Heavy rains that hit Owensboro hard Monday, which resulted in flash flooding and closed streets in Owensboro and Daviess County.
But Victor Cernius, Regional Water Resource Agency director of operations, said Tuesday that despite the flooding, it is important to look at how quickly the storm waters receded and the roads cleared once the heavy rainfall stopped.
“We do have a combined system here in town,” Cernius said. “The combined system does accept both stormwater and sanitary sewage, so anytime it rains, the flow that we treat at the west plant over on Ewing Road drastically increases.”
Cernius said that RWRA’s Max Rhoads Plant at 1201 Ewing Road will see its flow rate increase from about 8 million gallons a day to 35 million gallons daily anytime it rains.
Despite the fact that the David W. Hawes Water Reclamation Facility at 1722 Pleasant Valley Road is not a combined system, but strictly sanitary sewer, rain will still cause a flow increase because of inflow and infiltration into the system.
RWRA utilizes a Long-Term Control Plan, which is a 10-year plan designed by the agency and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency meant to complete RWRA’s combined sewer system in compliance with the EPA’s Clean Water Act, which is meant to stem the overall impact of untreated or partially-treated human and industrial waste, toxic materials and debris, as well as stormwater on bodies of water such as the Ohio River.
While RWRA works with the city and county, maintaining the storm system within Owensboro city limits is the responsibility of the city, while Daviess County is responsible for its own system.
Mark Brasher, county engineer, said Tuesday that the quick and heavy rainfall Monday afternoon did not seem to significantly impact Daviess County.
“That was pretty much isolated in Owensboro,” Brasher said. “Now Daviess County, we did get substantial amount of rain last night from around 7 p.m. until midnight.”
All things considered, the flooding was not dire out in the county, with Panther Creek maintaining its summer pool level, allowing for it to take in any runoff caused by the rainfall, he said.
Cernius said it is important for people to understand that stormwater inlets do become blocked from time to time. If someone notices this, it is important they call CityAction at 270-687-4444 to report the problem. Also, intense rain and a surcharge of air in the tunnels can blow off manholes at times.
“If anybody ever sees any manholes that are dislodged, just call our hotline,” he said.
In the event that a street is flooding, under no circumstances are individuals to remove manhole covers themselves, something Cernius said he watched happen on live TV Monday.
“Not only is that not what they are intended to do, and not helping us to comply with our combined sewer overflow policy, but also that is dangerous because you are opening up that manhole and people could get injured,” he said.