Palmer Engineering has been tapped by Winchester Municipal Utilities officials to begin studying the Lower Howards Creek Watershed to determine what projects might be feasible to complete in the area in the future.
The WMU Board of Commissioners approved the $203,000 at Thursday’s regular meeting in an attempt to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s consent decree.
Mike Flynn, WMU general manager, in a separate interview.
By completing the Lower Howards Creek study, WMU will pay a reduced fine to the EPA. The utility has been working under a consent decree since November 2006, which required the elimination of 27 sanitary sewer overflows.
“It’s something to try to improve the environment,” Flynn said.
According to a memo provided by WMU, several significant sanitary sewer overflows have been identified in the Lower Howards Creek Watershed, and several projects have been designed to eliminate those overflows, as part of the consent decree.
The supplemental environmental project is optional, but officials decided to conduct the Lower Howards Creek study in order to lower fines. The study will determine what further steps the utility can take to make the watershed more environmentally friendly and improve water quality.
Palmer Engineering will focus on stream restoration and public education. There will be public meetings scheduled at a later date to keep community members up-to-date on information.
“They’ll prioritize projects. They’ll identify the important players,” Flynn said.
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