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Cleaning up: City has new Environmental Compliance coordinator

Jon Sites, Environmental Compliance coordinator for the City of Ironton, knows a thing or two about caring for the environment.

After graduating from Ohio University with a degree in Environmental Management Services, he worked for the forest service as a forestry technician and a firefighter. Now, he’s working to clean up Ironton.

Part of his job is to execute the goals of MS4, or the Ironton storm water management program. The mission is to improve the water quality of Ironton’s creeks, tributaries and drainage systems that lead to the Ohio River.

“I’ve been what I call ‘alley hopping,’ finding mattress, couches, things that get thrown out,” Sites said of his current efforts. “COVID has put handcuffs on everything, so I have not gotten to do any public outreach, as far as meeting with kids in schools or anything like that. But we’re trying to do some clean-up days in the future. It was talked about last council meeting. Council had proposed three clean-up days.”

In addition to general cleanup within the city, there are some larger projects Sites is involved with, including trying to separate rainwater that overflows into sanitation.

The city’s wastewater and storm systems are monitored by the Ohio EPA.

Sites referenced a specific part of this project involving residences.

“When houses were built, they were allowed to tap straight into the storm sewer. Their runoff off their house, off their gutters was allowed to go directly into the storm sewer,” he explained. “Well, we’ll be doing smoke testing to try to disconnect people from that. That’s going to be a big project as far as finding funding for people on fixed incomes or older generations who can’t afford to fix these problems right away.”

The MS4 program also hopes to add a river sweep and tire amnesty, prescription takeback and shred days to the calendar.

“That goal was not hit last year, because of COVID, they were all canceled,” Sites said.

As far as what residents can do to help keep waterways healthy and clean, Sites recommends some basic actions that can be taken.

“Keep it cleaned up, try to watch what you throw out,” Sites said. “We’re out to help you guys out whatever way we can, but as far as openly, blatantly dumping, we can find somebody to get rid of it for you or line something up. We’re trying to keep from writing citations. There are some clean-up days coming up.”

If Ironton residents have questions about how to dispose of a particular item, or know of an area that needs attention in relation to cleanliness, they can reach Sites at 740-532-3121.

“They can always leave a message for me and I’ll get back to them,” he said. “Also, you can call the mayor’s office in general and we can direct you on how to dispose of some bigger things.”