Storm water specialist hired

The new county engineer will focus on rules and compliance.
Friday, May 13, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:02 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

It’s not just water under the bridge for Boone County engineer Sandra Wilbur. Handling that water is her job.

Wilbur, 37, was hired by the Boone County Public Works Department in early May to be an infrastructure engineer. She’ll spend most of her time monitoring storm water and helping the county develop storm water rules that will bring the county into compliance with mandates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Wilbur is the first full-time engineer dedicated to the task. She’ll be paid $54,608 per year.

Storm water is a concern to both Columbia and Boone County because it carries pollutants that harm water quality. The city, county and MU have a joint permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to regulate storm water. It’s called a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, or NPDES.

One of Wilbur’s largest responsibilities will be keeping the permit up to date and helping meet its goals.

The job, she said, is “pretty clear-cut since we have this permit,” Wilbur said. “But I still have to dive in and get all the background.”

Don Abell, manager of design and construction for the Public Works Department, said the county has been subject to the second phase of the permit requirements since 2003. With the extra requirements came extra work.

“We just felt we could use some additional staff to work toward that end,” he said.

Abell said that the Public Works Department chose to not fill an open surveyor position to make room for Wilbur’s job.

Wilbur previously worked in Wentzville, a city just outside St. Louis, where she said her job was similar but didn’t focus quite so specifically on storm water. She said she’s excited about working in Boone County.

“I kind of like the challenge of having it as a new position,” she said. “It’s something that I’m personally interested in.”

Abell said that Wilbur was an easy choice because of her 15 years experience in the field and her experience with storm water management.

Wilbur said her previous work with cities and private consultants gives her a good feel for how to cooperate with both sectors. In this case, Wilbur will work with MU, Columbia and the city-county Storm Water Task Force to accomplish storm water management goals.

“We have separate ordinances, but we’re all cooperating together,” Wilbur said.

To meet some of the permit’s requirements, Wilbur will begin working on an erosion control ordinance similar to one being developed by the city. The ordinance would require developers to submit site plans for approval and to use methods such as silt fences or sediment basins to keep soil from flowing into streams.

The NPDES permit also requires the city and county to educate the public about illicit discharge, pollution prevention and control of runoff from construction sites.

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