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Elkhart River Walk – courtesy of Stormwater Magazine, January/February 2004

For the Elkhart River Walk project in Elkhart, IN, the engineering firm of Whightman Petrie chose a BaySaver Separation System with a treatment capacity of 21.8 cfs. The project is an expansion of the existing River Walk, and the city needs to treat a large volume of discharge in a high-impact location in public view. Among the pollutants with which Elkhart is concerned are sediments, oils, greases, and floatables.

The particular area being redeveloped includes public walking paths and other access points to the river, explains Dustin Sailor, the design engineer for Whightman Petrie. Parcels adjacent to the River Walk portion have been designated for new development.

"The discharge pipe for the storm system currently discharges into what was an old turbine room, and there used to be a canal that went through the area. They used the water power to operate the machinery. The turbine-room structure is still in place, and they started developing the River Walk around the turbine room," Sailor explains. "The intent is to keep debris from the storm system from ending up in that room, which is going to be a point of high contact with the people in that area. They've placed bridges and other things over the turbine room, and it's going to become a centerpiece for the River Walk."

Working with the city, Sailor's job is to design a system that will minimize the amount of large solids, such as trash debris, that will end up in the turbine-room area. The plan is to install the BaySaver at the effluent point.

"Our portion of development of this storm system also takes in multiple blocks of the city," Sailor says. "It's not just this development, but it is additional developments for which we're actually rerouting the storm sewer."

The city will be responsible for maintaining the device. Mike Machlan is a network engineer in charge of water and sewer systems for Elkhart. "I'm anxious to see how [the BaySaver] performs because we have around 40 combined sewer overflows [CSOs] in the community, and CSO treatment is always an issue," he says. "If that effluent is clean enough that a reasonable UV system can be put in, it might save us a lot of money. It would be easier to treat at source for CSO discharges than try to store it and pump it all back to the treatment plant. That's a side benefit to using this product at this time."

The city will be testing the runoff to determine how well the product works. "If it doesn't really produce what we need for a disinfection process on visual inspection, then we probably wouldn't go to the next step. But all of that is really a dream right now," says Machlan. "We just thought, ‘hey, it would be kind of cool if we could do this as well.' Especially on our smaller CSOs - we have some that are only an 8-inch line or 12-inch line that flows into the river. At sites like that, a small treatment system might be fairly economical compared to our deep-tunnel process."

It's all part of a BMP plan for Elkhart. The city has done NPDES mapping with geographic information systems and now knows where nearly all of the sewers exist.

"We have them distinguished by whether it's a storm sewer, a sanitary-only sewer, a combined sewer, or a separate sewer going into a combined area or a totally separate area. We're making sure that we actually have all of the outfalls located," Machlan says. "We have two rivers going through Elkhart, so a lot of neighborhoods have two catch basins going through a 10-foot easement out to the river. Those are some of the things that we're trying to make sure we've got tied down really well."

Additionally, the city is moving forward with its BMPs. "Some of it is pretty simple, but [if] you think about it, it helps the public," Machlan says. "We use a symbol indicating where all of our catch basins go to the river. For a number of years, we've stenciled on some of the inner-city areas on the curb, ‘this inlet goes directly to the river; anything that gets poured in here will go to the river.' We try to educate the public."

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