ELKHART (August 22, 2018) – The City of Elkhart wastewater treatment plant was recently recognized by the Indiana Water Environment Association (IWEA) with the 2018 Laboratory Excellence Award and the 2018 Collection Systems Large Facility Award. The first award recognizes laboratories that document and demonstrate a commitment to good laboratory practices and accurate data reporting. The latter is one of the most prestigious environmental awards programs in the state and recognizes facilities making substantial improvements to the collection system profession. The City of Elkhart collection system consists of both separate and combined sewers (carrying both sewage and storm water in the same pipe). During periods of heavy rain, these combined sewers can overflow into local bodies of water such as Christiana Creek, the Elkhart River and the St. Joseph River. In receiving this award, the City was recognized for achieving and surpassing regulatory requirements to reduce overflows ahead of schedule while also working proactively to anticipate future regulatory requirements and develop plans for compliance. “I am proud to see Elkhart leading the way in this important public safety and quality of life issue,” said Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese. “What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is that we have been able to do so with a relatively small staff and low residential sewer rate. I want to commend our team at Public Works and Utilities for their pro-active approach to service and encourage them to keep up the great work.” One of the unique features that helped Elkhart stand out amongst other Hoosier communities was their recent development of a public notification system aimed at alerting residents to combined sewer overflows (CSO). This provides an additional tool to notify the public that caution should be taken when choosing to engage in recreational activity in local rivers and creeks during and after a rainfall or snowmelt event. Elkhart is the first Great Lakes Basin community to provide this important information through a very simple and user-friendly method – a map. The map indicates if there has been an overflow within the last seven days or if an overflow is currently taking place.
The public notification system and mapping tool were developed and deployed by FlowWorks, Inc. – a Seattle based company that provides water and wastewater data management tools to communities across North America. Kevin Marsh, Vice President of Business Development adds, “We’ve worked with The City of Elkhart for years and recognize the city as very proactive in their approach to managing the collection system. We were not surprised to see the city taking the lead on this initiative and hope other communities will follow suit.”
Visitors to the City’s website can check on the status of Elkhart’s 29 discharge points by scrolling to the bottom of the page and locating the CSO Overflow symbol. This symbol changes from wavy blue lines when there have been no overflows for the last 48 hours, to the same symbol with a red circle and a line through it with the word “UNSAFE” for 48 hours following an overflow event.
By clicking on this symbol, users will be directed to a map that contains all of the City’s CSO discharge points and red, yellow, or green pins that indicate the status of each location. Red denotes an overflow is currently happening, yellow signifies an overflow has occurred in the last seven days, and green means no overflow has occurred at that location in the last seven days.
The location of the discharge points can be identified by simply moving the cursor over any of the pins on the map. By clicking on the pin, residents can access additional information including the body of water the CSO discharges to, the access points potentially impacted, the start and end times of the overflow event, and the approximate volume of the overflow.
To learn more about the City’s CSO long term control plan, visit www.elkhartindiana.org.