Like the proactive code inspection sweeps along main city corridors that started a few years ago, Independence's Water Pollution Control Department this year started conducting inspections of non-residential facilities to determine compliance with the city's stormwater and sanitary sewer codes.

“It's environmental enforcement; not just the aesthetic side but also the environmental side. It's along the same mission of what the council is wanting to do (with proactive inspections),” Assistant Director Mike Jackson said.

He said Water Pollution Control worked in the fall to get policies and procedures in place and many times does inspections in concert with public works and code enforcement.

“Some things don't work the same as code enforcement,” he said. “Some are more with DNR (Department of Natural Resources), and some are with health and community development.”

WPC is looking for improper storage of potentially hazardous materials and/or potentially harmful disposal processes and started routine inspections through a fats, oils and grease program.

“It saves us money in the long run, because we have to treat all this water coming in and we have to repair the (main) breaks,” Jackson said. “If we're at a business that requires a grease trap and the trap is failing or breaking, we can require them to fix it, rather than years later we have a grease ball clogging our main, and then we have to dig it up.”

So far this year through May 31, the WPC department has made 264 site inspections that led to 47 corrective actions. The first tickets were issued in February.

Jackson said the proactive enforcement is a bit unique for Water Pollution Control.

“We've been focused more on the bigger industries and not really done a whole lot with restaurants and residential area unless there's been a complaint. Sometimes those people didn't know where to send (complaints), so they wouldn't send them.

“It's not a matter of making revenue; we're just trying to get things taken care of.”