Keep the Water Flowing
Since 2010, Mayor Kennedy’s administration has focused its resources on projects and initiatives to improve North Olmsted’s drainage system. The presentation below documents a wide range of stormwater and sanitary system projects and policies that, in combination, have reduced instances of flooding in the city after major storm events. The city’s approach to tackling the issue of stormwater management is a wide range of effort, with projects large and small, public and private, new improvements and retrofits along with ongoing maintenance efforts.
Investments and Initiatives in our Stormwater and Sanitary Sewer Presentation (2020)
Investments Map (2012-2016)
Resources and Studies
The citywide sanitary sewer system map and storm system map are linked below. More information about the city’s stormwater management efforts and other items of interest can be found on the Engineering page.
Sanitary Sewer System Map
Two studies were completed in 2019 specifically focusing on the sanitary sewer and stormwater infrastructure in the south and west areas of North Olmsted. The studies tested a number of alternative capital improvements for improving capacity and flow in these systems. Read the studies below.
South Interceptor Study (2019)
Roots Ditch Hydrology Study (2019)
Immediate and Next Steps
Our storm sewers are routinely inspected and jetted to keep them clear and functioning as designed, as vegetation, trash and road debris wash into catch basins and collect in pipes. City crews are now inspecting storm sewers focusing on those in Bretton Ridge, Park Ridge and the Dorothy/Decker development, to look for breaks and cracks, obstructions and other deficiencies preventing flow of water. Our camera truck and vac truck are used by crews to identify and remove debris or blockages. This “flushing and filming” is part of the city’s overall preventative maintenance strategy to ensure the integrity of our sewer infrastructure.
The city is working with residents on things they can do to help keep water flowing by locating property drains that need to be cleaned (which are residents’ responsibility) and sharing information on cost-effective ways to help prevent backups.
City crews have begun smoke testing of sanitary sewers in the most impacted neighborhoods, as well, as another means to determine where in the system that inflow and infiltration is occurring. Smoke testing is one method to find problem locations that require repair, either by the city or the responsible private property owner. Read our Smoke Testing FAQs and find our testing schedule here.
As shown in the investments presentation, the city has prioritized projects that increase the capacity of our systems to hold storm and sanitary overflow during heavy rain events, demonstrating success in reducing flooding impacts in many areas of our community. More projects are on the horizon that will significantly increase storage capacity in areas south of Lorain Road.
Improvements to the sanitary system will be funded from collections based on the rates all users pay for sanitary sewer service. Improvements to the stormwater system will be covered by remaining funds the city borrowed several years ago specifically for stormwater management, which included the construction of the Pine Basin.
Potential Capital Improvements Map
This map shows potential locations for both sanitary and storm improvements consistent with the South Interceptor Study and Roots Ditch Study recommendations. The city is working to secure the land necessary for the large underground tanks or above ground basins needed for storage. Once land is acquired, the city will be able to proceed with engineering, bidding and construction for these projects.
September 2020 Update: The city is soliciting Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) from qualified professionals to provide engineering services for the South Interceptor Equalization Tank Project. SOQs are due October 21, 2020.
Resident Meeting Frequently Asked Questions
In June, Mayor Kennedy held a series of small group meetings with North Olmsted residents impacted by the rain event of May 15, 2020. Questions from all meetings were recorded and responses to FAQs are included here.
Maintenance and Operations
What proactive maintenance is taking place to prevent blockages and keep water flowing during storms?
- City crews routinely perform inspection, cleaning and maintenance of storm sewers, as well as inspection, grass cutting and removal of obstructions in ditches.
On Somerset during the storm, water was backed up, but then city crews came by and water quickly receded. What did the crews do to get the water to flow again?
- We are not aware of a modification to the system or blockage removed that caused the water to quickly recede. This was likely a coincidence that the crews were in the area while the rain stopped and pipes re-gained their capacity.
Drains appeared to have been removed on Somerset and cemented over. Why was this done?
- No, there were no drains removed or paved over within the Somerset Drive right-of-way.
A city official said the city is intentionally holding water in the streets. Is this so?
- Catch basin flow restrictors can be an effective way of controlling the rate of surface runoff from entering the underground storm sewer system. The intent is to prevent basement flooding during extreme storm events by storing excessive rain water on the surface rather than surcharging the sewers. However they are not preferred in areas with split level homes or sunken driveways. While their use has been tested in certain areas of the city in the past, there are currently none installed in city street catch basins. Examples of various types of commercial flow restrictors include Hydro-Brake and Reg-U-Flow by Hydro International, Vortex Valves by Contech and EX-Flo Restrictor Plates.
Where can I find information about drains and storm infrastructure in my yard/neighboring yards?
- You can make an appointment to visit the Building Department to view information within the street file for your property. You can also email the Engineering Department through the city website for available infrastructure records.
Where does water drain from Bretton Ridge? Where do the storm lines go?
- Linked are maps (Map 1, Map 2) showing drainage of Bretton Ridge. The majority of Bretton Ridge is tributary to a storm sewer trunk line that travels from west to east through the middle of the development. Stormwater runoff from the north quarter of the development flows north towards Root Ditch.
Specifically regarding Cinnamon Woods, who is responsible for the sewers and drainage, the city or private property owners?
- The city maintains the sanitary sewer mains throughout the development, however property owners are responsible for the laterals from the main to the building. The city maintains the storm sewer main within Cinnamon Way, because it is within a public right-of-way, however house laterals and storm sewers outside of the Cinnamon Way right-of-way, such as Bayberry Circle, Ginger Lane, Sugar Sand Lane, etc., are the responsibility of the property owner or HOA.
If the city were to smoke test sewer lines and find areas of infiltration or inflow, where does city responsibility end and homeowner responsibility begin to make needed repairs?
- The property owner is responsible for installation, maintenance and repair of the building drain, also known as the sewer lateral, from the public sewer main to the house (refer to definitions in NOCO 911). The building drain only serves one user, while the public main serves multiple users. However, as a courtesy, a means to protect other utilities, and to relieve homeowners from costly repairs within the right-of-way, the city may assist with repairs from the main to the right-of-way.
What is the PSI rating for the floor drain and stand pipe fittings? Won’t the pressure just blow them off the drain?
- There are various manufactures and models of the floor drain float-type check valve, however the manufacturers do not provide PSI ratings. However the stand pipe model is recommended for extreme and/or extended pressure.
Has the city considered a grant program like ones in Lakewood or Cleveland where the city could subsidize a portion of costs of backflow preventers?
- This may be referring to the NEORSD storm water credit program. This is for customers who are part of the NEORSD and pay a stormwater fee in addition to their sanitary sewer bill. North Olmsted is not a member of the NEORSD since we operate our own WWTP, therefore North Olmsted residents currently aren’t subject to the additional stormwater fee. The NEORSD credit program is intended to be an incentive for customers to install certain storm water improvement measures such as rain barrels, pervious pavement etc., however doesn’t cover the entire cost of the improvement.
Impact of Development Projects
Is there independent confirmation that the Vitalia system was working properly at the time of the rains? The timing of the project and flooding seems like more than a coincidence.
- In accordance with Ohio EPA NPDES Construction General Permit requirements, stormwater drainage improvements and erosion and sediment control measures shall be installed first on large projects. The project owner and/or contractor are required to inspect the entire site periodically as well as after large rain events, and maintain those inspection records. Site work is also continuously monitored by the city Engineering Department. The owner is notified immediately of any issues that require attention.
How many outlets are there from the Vitalia project? What size of pipes carry water from Vitalia to Roots Ditch? Has anyone checked the elevations to make sure water is flowing in the right direction? The ditch at the outlet didn’t appear to flow during the storm. The ditch needs to be maintained/cleaned out.
- Stormwater runoff exits the Vitalia development in two locations. Runoff from approximately half of an acre is tributary to an existing 15-inch diameter storm pipe located at the southwest corner of the site that is connected to the storm sewer in in Cambridge Drive. This is a reduction from over 4 acres that was previously tributary to this pipe before construction started. Runoff from the remainder of the site, over 8 acres, leaves the site through a 36-inch diameter pipe that crosses Christman Drive and discharges into Root Ditch at the HOA property. However, before entering the 36-inch pipe, stormwater runoff is detained in underground chambers and a basin on the surface near Lorain Rd, before discharge is slowly released by an outlet control structure with a 6-inch diameter primary discharge control orifice. Although runoff from all storms up to and including the 100-year event will be controlled by the 6-inch orifice, the 36-inch pipe is required by code to convey the 100-year storm in case of emergency should the 6-inch orifice become blocked, however this is not expected, therefore the 36-inch pipe is only needed under rare circumstances. In addition, the underground chambers and basin are located above permeable soils, therefore a portion of the runoff enters the soil and therefore isn’t discharged into the 36-inch pipe. According to city code, the developer was required to reduce the peak discharge after development from the 8+ tributary acres, to below the peak discharge before any development for 4 acres previously tributary to that discharge point.
What can residents expect when the sanitary system is operating at Vitalia? It will add to the problem by adding flow.
- Sanitary sewer systems are designed based on the land area and projected land use they will serve. The sanitary sewers were designed to account for the area occupied by the Vitalia site when they were originally constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. The sewer system is continuously inspected, maintained and improved as needed to assure it is operating as intended. The capacity of various portions of the system are also periodically re-assessed based on current land use and conditions, including most recently a study including this portion performed in 2017-18. However surcharging of the sanitary sewer system occurs when stormwater, for which sanitary sewers are not designed to convey, enters the system through inflow and infiltration (I&I). Inflow is from illegal cross-connection such as with downspouts, foundation drains and yard drains. Infiltration is from leaking pipes and manholes. The city proactively addresses infiltration in the public portion of the system, such as sewer mains and manhole located within the public right-of-way, and is planning to start a smoke testing program to identify I&I within private property. Violations located on private property will be responsibility of the property owner.
How much more development can we expect and what will be the stormwater impacts?
- Most of North Olmsted is already developed. There is not much vacant land still available. However, any new development or re-development of existing property must conform to current stormwater management requirements, which are intended to restore discharge from a site back to pre-development conditions. In other words, as sites are developed or re-developed, stormwater management will be improved.
What impact will development in Olmsted Township have on the city?
- Sanitary sewer flow from the proposed development along John Road in Olmsted Township would enter the North Olmsted sewer system at Pebblebrook Lane. Sanitary flow from the proposed development is within the threshold for Olmsted Township at this entry point, as well as overall from Olmsted Township. Stormwater runoff from the proposed development will travel east along John Road within an existing stream until it crosses Columbia Road and discharges into the Rocky River.
In other communities, there are reservoirs built with new developments. Is this a new approach?
- Stormwater management is required in North Olmsted in accordance with NOCO 928 and the Ohio EPA NPDES Storm Water General Permit. North Olmsted has had an ordinance requiring stormwater management as early as 1975 (see ordinance 75-122 on Engineering page of city web site), and is continually reviewing and updating the code to be in conformance with the Ohio EPA permit.