On a 4-1 vote, the Redwood Falls city council officially adopted Ordinance 66 during its Nov. 5 meeting.

What had been officially introduced in October was up for discussion during the meeting, and the council faced a room full of community members with questions and concerns about the proposed ordinance.

Prior to allowing the approximately 25 people who attended the meeting talk about the ordinance, Chris Larson of ISG, who is providing guidance and assistance to the city during the ordinance approval process as well as the implementation of that ordinance, offered some information regarding the ins and outs of the ordinance as it relates to prohibited clean water drainage into the wastewater system.

The origin of the proposed ordinance stems from the increased number of major rainfalls in the city that have been creating strain on the wastewater treatment facility.

According to Jim Doering, city public works project coordinator, the city has seen heavy rain that is increasing the amount of water entering the wastewater treatment facility and is causing a dramatic increase in the amount of water that is ending up in the Minnesota River.

Doering said the average amount of wastewater discharge coming to the city’s facility on a daily basis is 876,000 gallons, and it permitted to discharge up to 1.3 million gallons of water into the river per day. When a heavy rain falls the amount of discharge has far exceeded 6.5 million gallons per day. 

Doering said in some cases he estimated the more recent heavy rains have meant in excess of 10 million gallons have been discharged.

The city recently received a notice of violation of its discharged allowances from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and in that notice the MPCA indicates the city must come up with a plan to address non-compliance. Approval of the ordinance related to inflow and infiltration is part of that solution, said Doering, adding the city is also currently in the midst of a review of its water and sewer comprehensive plan that will also help to find compliance solutions for the city.

One of the concerns for those who attended was the fact that the ordinance requires an inspection of each home’s sump pump. Doering indicated that having a sump pump inspection ordinance is not new, as an ordinance has been part of the city for a number of years.

So, why doesn’t the city just begin implementing a process that would lead to new pipes throughout the community? Doering indicated there are 39 miles of pipe in the city, and 85 percent of that pipe is more than 50 years old. Replacing all of that pipe would come with a price tag of approximately $280 million.

The city had planned to begin conducting smoke testing of pipes in the city yet this fall, but because of the cold temperatures and the snow, the decision was made to postpone that testing until next spring.

The first round of sump pump inspections is scheduled to begin in early 2020.

To help provide information to those who are first on the list, the city will be having an open house at the Redwood Area Community Center Dec. 5. The hours for that open house have not yet been determined.

To learn more about the ordinance, visit the city’s Web site at ci.redwood-falls.mn.us.

In other action during its meeting, the city council:

• Approved a purchase agreement with Katelyn Torgerson for the property at 508 Veda Drive at $150,000.

• Approved the employment of Paige Ebner as a full-time clerk at the Redwood Falls Public Library effective as of Nov. 6 at a starting wage of $14.83 per hour.