The city’s stormwater program is adding two employees.

The Keizer City Council authorized creating two positions – an environmental technician and senior environmental technician – to work on the city’s stormwater systems.

Elizabeth Sagmiller, environmental program coordinator, said the hires are part of complying with three federal mandates.

A key component of the senior environmental tech’s job will be data management, Sagmiller said.

“If you consider that we have 2,300 catch basins in the city, then we need to know exactly where they are, and they need to go into a geographic information system (GIS) database,” Sagmiller said. “We’ll know what kind of basins they are; we’ll know if they’re connected to a UIC (underground injection control) device or just a solid piece of pipe, and what role it plays in discharging to a waterway,” Sagmiller said.

The city currently has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit (NPDES), which allows it to discharge stormwater directly into local waterways. This permit must be renewed, and the two employees, once hired, will assist Sagmiller in preparing a permit application.

It must meet two more mandates to fully comply with the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act:

• Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plan – The state developed a plan that shows how much pollution can enter the Willamette River before bacteria levels, water temperature and mercury contamination render it unsuitable for ideal fish spawning or human use, like swimming. Each government that contributes to the pollution – Keizer is one – must have a plan to reduce its contributions.

The city’s plan has been approved, and funding to comply with the plan was passed as part of the most recent budget.

• UIC Program/Water Pollution Control Facilities Permit – Many cities and counties in Oregon, for various reasons, are not fully served by an interconnected stormwater disposal system. In many of these areas, UIC (Underground Injection Control) devices take runoff off the surface and send it directly underground. Essentially, it disposes of stormwater on or near where it fell to the ground, as opposed to sending it to a nearby waterway via a stormdrain system.

The City of Keizer has approximately 83 of these. Federal and state requirements mandate that the city manage these, including a spill response plan and closing high-risk UICs.

This method of removing stormwater from the surface became popular as development stretched beyond the bounds of connected stormwater systems. Sagmiller said that, because Keizer’s water comes from an underground aquifer, correctly-performed stormwater management using UICs can be beneficial. And because of the aquifer, it must be done correctly in order to both comply with environmental regulations and preserve safe drinking water.

Part of the two employees’ tasks will be to monitor these – that is, know the quality of the water going into them – and to correct or close any that are malfunctioning.