Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A prepared by the city of Richmond Hill concerning its stormwater management program.
What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff is the water that flows over the land when it rains. It flows into gutters, storm sewers and drainage ditches that empty into our local creeks and streams and ultimately discharge into the Ogeechee River.
Impervious areas (areas that cannot absorb rainfall) are the single most important factor influencing stormwater runoff. Development replaces natural ground surfaces with impervious surfaces, causing more stormwater to run off the land rather than soaking into the soil, resulting in increased stream flows and potential flooding. Impervious areas also contribute pollutants that are eventually carried into our rivers via stormwater runoff.
What is the city’s responsibility for managing stormwater runoff?
The city of Richmond Hill is responsible for the management and regulation of stormwater runoff and drainage issues within the city, including the cleaning of ditches and pipe systems, replacement of aging culverts and drainage structures and construction of new culvert systems to increase or improve conveyance capacity. New stormwater regulations from the state and federal governments, combined with aging infrastructure and lack of resources to implement priority capital drainage projects, have driven the city’s need to implement a more comprehensive stormwater management program. Although the state and federal governments have imposed permit regulations on the city, there has not been any corresponding funding from these agencies to assist the city with meeting its requirements. As such, these regulations are essentially an unfunded regulatory mandate that the city must address.
What stormwater regulations must the city comply with?
As of March 2014, the city was required to seek coverage under a national permit requiring the city to undertake activities to address water quality protection and stormwater pollution prevention, including public education and involvement, illicit discharge and dumping enforcement, development regulation, drainage-system inspections and maintenance.
Why worry about stormwater runoff?
• Flooding can damage property and become a public-safety and health issue.
• Good infrastructure management protects the public investment.
• Maintaining or improving water quality enhances quality of life.
• New and increasingly restrictive stormwater regulations require city attention.
• Future stormwater program implementation will require the allocation of additional city resources.
How can you assist with stormwater management?
You can reduce flooding and protect our local rivers and streams with a few simple actions:
• Do not sweep or blow yard debris or soil into the street or stormwater system. This clogs up the pipes and prevents water from draining.
• If your property is near a drainage ditch, keep the banks clear of brush and debris. Dumping in ditches is prohibited by the Stormwater Management Ordinance.
• Do not dump anything down a storm drain that you wouldn’t want to swim in or drink.
• To report someone dumping trash in the canals, storm-drainage system or drainage ditch, or to request needed maintenance of drainage facilities, please contact the city at 912-756-3345.
How does the city propose to address expanding stormwater needs and new regulations?
The city of Richmond Hill requires additional resources to better address the city’s stormwater needs, meet customer demands and comply with the unfunded federal and state regulatory compliance mandates. Up until now, drainage-system construction and repair activities have been funded by the city’s general fund, which consists primarily of taxes. This process is unreliable and unstable due to the nature of competing priorities within the city’s annual budgeting process for lower tax revenues.
One way to effectively fund the stormwater management program would be to implement a stormwater utility for properties within the city limits. If the city implements this, a stormwater user fee will be charged to all developed properties within the city based on the amount of impervious surface on the parcel. The city believes this is a more equitable method for funding stormwater services because all properties will pay their fair share for stormwater services received.
What benefits will you receive from a stormwater utility?
If implemented, the funds received will be used for:
• Enhanced and proactive drainage-system maintenance,
• Improved response to customer complaints and service requests via additional resources,
• Reduced flooding and improved drainage conveyance,
• Increased investment in the public infrastructure,
• Improved stormwater quality,
• Compliance with state and federal regulations, and
• Reallocation of city funds to other priority needs.
For more information about the city’s stormwater management program, please go to www.richmondhill-ga.gov or call 912-756-3345.