Apr 18

Surprised by how City employees make a difference? (Part 1)

Posted on April 18, 2022 at 4:09 PM by Bryan Taulbee

City of Dayton employees perform a vast variety of jobs, including some that many residents are probably not aware of.  

All employees make a difference, but there is a group in Dayton’s Department of Water that I would like to shine a light on—a technical team at a little-known (but very important) laboratory at Dayton’s water reclamation facility. 

These well-trained professionals quietly go about work vital to the area’s environment and public health, at an out-of-the-way spot tucked into a bend of the Great Miami River at Dayton’s southern border. 

“Water reclamation,” by the way, is a somewhat-recent way of saying “wastewater treatment.” The importance of this work—making sure the outflow of sanitary waste treatment is sufficiently clean to enter the river, every day, all year—is matched by its complexity. With the increasing use of local waterways for recreation, “reclamation” (or re-use) is the right approach for your public water system to take. 

So, what exactly do the lab workers in the Division of Water Reclamation do, and what special abilities do they bring to their own brand of public service?

Laboratory staffing currently includes five jobs filled by employees specializing in instrumentation, bacteriology/chemistry, and a variety of technical analysis methods. These analysts are, in effect, the “eyes and ears” of the treatment process.  

They are certified to run a multitude of analyses to monitor for potential problems caused by substances and compounds we ordinary water customers would never think of:  metals such as cadmium and dissolved hexavalent chromium, plus suspended solids, cyanide, e Coli, and ammonia nitrogen, just to name a few.  

The names of some of these contaminants send me straight to Google for an explanation, but be assured, we do not want them entering our waterways at amounts considered potentially harmful by Ohio EPA or other health authorities.

For the past two years the lab team has also regularly sampled for the presence of the genetic markers of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater, a way of helping state health officials monitor the spread of COVID-19 in various localities. 

The team members maintain certification from Ohio EPA and other entities, reflecting the City of Dayton’s commitment to good environmental stewardship and our efforts toward operating the water reclamation facility efficiently to help keep water rates low. Water Reclamation Lab Team 2022

Water Reclamation Division management supports employee trainings and certifications required for this vital work. In fact, all five lab team members are actively pursuing Ohio Water Environment Association Voluntary Lab Analyst Certification, in addition to other credentials they have already earned. 

Recently, the City of Dayton recognized our own “Women in Water” who contribute in so many ways to providing safe, affordable water for approximately 400,000 users of Dayton water in the city and much of Montgomery County. We are proud to count Emily Mazur, Kimie Kilgore, and Britton Bauer of the water reclamation lab among these scientifically adept and publicly minded women. 

Photo: The self-named “mad scientists” at the Division of Water Reclamation lab (left to right): Emily Mazur, Britton Bauer, Kimie Kilgore, Jian Cao, Walter “Fritz” Schroder (lab supervisor).

Look for a tribute to another group of City of Dayton public servants in an upcoming edition of “City Manager’s Perspective.”

Mar 18

Dayton Recovery Plan - Inclusion, Imagination, Investment

Posted on March 18, 2022 at 3:47 PM by Alex Despain

2020 Photo of City Manager Shelley Dickstein

There’s been a conversation going on in Dayton over the past year–a discussion involving neighbors, businesspeople, community activists, elected leaders, city planners and administrators, financial analysts, and many others. 

What’s the topic of that special conversation? Well, nothing more than the future of our city and an extraordinary opportunity to have a giant, positive impact on that future. 

You may have already heard a few things about the Dayton Recovery Plan–a roadmap for helping our city emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and its $138 million grant to the City of Dayton.

Here are the priorities identified in the plan developed under my direction and adopted by the City Commission, following the community conversation involving meetings, a survey and other participation opportunities:

  • Demolition of up to 1,000 blighted properties throughout Dayton;
  • Park enhancements and eight additional spray parks (in addition to park improvements made possible by the voter-approved Issue 9 measure in 2016);
  • Housing construction and renovation in targeted areas;
  • Sidewalk/curb repairs and tree lawn upgrades in targeted areas;
  • Support for black- and brown-owned businesses, economic development and job creation;
  • Investment in essential City services and City facilities.

The plan provides a framework for infusion of ARPA funding into targeted areas and focus neighborhoods:  Wolf Creek, Edgemont, Carillon, Miami Chapel, Five Oaks, Old North Dayton, Twin Towers and the Wright Factory Site in West Dayton, as well as other special investments across Dayton, all with a goal of disrupting multi-generational poverty, income, and health disparities, while enhancing the city as a community attracting further, ongoing investment. 

An opportunity of this magnitude calls for what we might call a series of “I-words”:  Inclusion (a broad community conversation); Imagination (creative problem-solving); and Investment (strategic, data-driven actions that can make a difference). 

Though there’s currently a lull in the conversation, there is still much work going on to ensure the prudent finalization and then implementation of the Dayton Recovery Plan. That work involves evaluating available data to guide important decisions—for example, examination (on a case-by-case basis) of structure conditions, tax delinquencies, ownership status and more when making housing renovation plans, or analysis of neighborhood population data and trends to help determine new spray park locations. 

During 2021, the City solicited applications from community groups and local businesses to apply for a portion of the recovery funds to address community needs. There were 93 eligible applications, with 42 recommended for potential funding. We expect the successful applications to be announced by the time spring flowers are in full bloom and awards to be finalized by mid-2022.

For more information on the Dayton Recovery Plan, visit the daytonohio.gov/arpa.