Viewpoint: City staff, volunteers have worked hard to implement new stormwater program
BY RON SMITH
You may have heard about a new program under development in the City of Statesville. Since the Spring of 2016 the city staff has been preparing for the implementation of a new stormwater program that will directly or indirectly impact every Statesville resident.
The basis of these efforts is a federal mandate that governs stormwater runoff in urban areas. Federal legislation was adopted in the early 1970s, while the City of Charlotte initiated a fee and a program in the early 1990s, and now Statesville has grown to a point that the regulations now affect us.
STORMWATER ISSUES: Stormwater is the runoff associated with rain hitting impervious surfaces (parking lots, rooftops, sidewalks, etc.). This water hits these surfaces and flows downstream. In many cases downstream is to the closest storm drain along a city street. These drains lead to our largely underground pipe and culvert system, and eventually empty into creeks or tail ditches around Statesville.
As you would expect, the runoff carries with it everything on the hard surface it hits – grease, dirt, lawn chemicals, cigarette butts, and litter.
The City of Statesville’s Stormwater Program is in place to curb the effect of pollutants and help clean the streams and creeks that run through and near our city, so ultimately the water we drink has improved quality.
This will be done by developing a maintenance program to shore up problem areas, maintain existing stormwater facilities and develop ordinances to regulate new development.
For many years, our stormwater infrastructure has quietly done its job, with little attention unless there was a problem. Through those years the system was largely unchecked and unmaintained. This was mainly due to it being underground and/or on private property.
Don’t get me wrong, the system is not crumbling, but we need to shore up and maintain what we have.
STORMWATER FEE: A fee will be assessed to anyone that pays a utility bill in the City, including non-profits, churches, residents and businesses. The City Council has adopted a monthly fee of $4.70 per ERU (equivalent residential unit) that will be added to your utility bill. For an average house in Statesville, this means you will see an increase of $4.70 on your utility bill each month. This is because a single-family house equals one ERU.
For non-residential uses such as businesses and churches, etc., the number of ERUs will be higher and are calculated based on that property’s impervious surface.
STORMWATER ORDINANCE: On April 15, the City Council will consider a Post-Construction Stormwater Ordinance and Drainage Design Manual for adoption, as well as formally establishing the program ordinance. This will formally put in place the regulatory documents to govern future development under this program, effective July 1, 2019. These are mandated documents and will ensure that the principals of good design, as it relates to stormwater, are in place to hold new development to the mandated standard.
INFORMING THE PUBLIC: The city staff has been methodical in how we roll out this new program to those affected. We are using social media, as well as traditional media sources, and our staff is available to make presentations to groups. We have met with those most impacted and are holding public informational sessions for churches, non-profits, businesses and residents. It is our intent to make sure as many people as possible know about the Stormwater Program prior to the first bills going out in July.
Two years of preparation have gone into the development of this program. A special thank you goes to the City’s Stormwater Advisory Committee, made up of volunteers in various industries that deal with this subject. This group has put in countless hours to achieve this goal. This column only scratches the surface.
If you have further questions, our meeting schedule is listed on our website, www.statesvillenc.net. If you want to get more of an understanding and information on this subject please go to http://www.statesvillenc.net/Departments/PublicWorks/Stormwater
Ron Smith is the city manager for the City of Statesville.