- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - The city of Rockford will pay nearly $330,000 to state and federal environmental protection agencies as part of a settlement of a complaint that it violated clean water standards on storm water that runs into area rivers and streams, officials said.

The (Rockford) Register Star (http://bit.ly/1FnxsIs ) reports that the City Council is expected to vote Monday night on the agreement that not only sends half the money to the state and half to the federal government, but also sets storm water management requirements that the city must meet to avoid more penalties.

“It’s something we have to do so we’ll just do it and move forward,” said Alderman John Beck.

The agreement is the latest chapter in the city’s long - and expensive - effort to comply with the Clean Water Act as well as mitigate flooding over the years. City Legal Director Patrick Hayes said maintaining the storm sewer system that complies with the act is expected to cost more than $5 million a year, an expense the city has already taken on this year. The city has also taken steps not linked to the EPA requirements that resulted in the fine - including spending $10 million buying homes in Churchill Park “to reduce the flood risk,” said Hayes.

With a storm water management plan that includes cleaning the city’s 30,000 storm water inlets and industrial inspections to ensure water discharged off company property is clean, the city is trying to get ahead of storm water problems and not just react to them.

“We used to respond to issues on complaint, or on notice there was something wrong,” Hayes said. “Now we’re doing a proactive inspection program.’

Further, he said that even though the city has already implemented many elements of the plan, “We are adopting that (plan) as a formal action of the City Council to make sure it has a weight and authority.”

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com

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