New fee projects impact for environment
The City of Storm Lake is one 43 communities and university campuses in the State of Iowa regulated under the Federal Clean Water Act to implement guidelines outlined in a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit. This permit determines how the city will treat storm water before out letting it to public water ways, including Storm Lake and Poor Farm Creek.
There are six basic requirements:
* A plan to control erosion and retain sediment on construction sites
* Develop and implement a plan to improve storm water management to control flooding and protect water quality
* Development and implementation of a plan to inspect storm drain outlets regularly for the purpose of detecting and eliminating any illicit discharges
* Implementation of "good housekeeping" practices to ensure that municipal operations are not contributing to water quality degradation
* A plan to educate community members on how to contribute to water quality protection practices
* Development and implementation of a plan to involve the public in storm water management plans.
The City has been active on working on issues over the past several months in preparation for a more detailed and aggressive plan that covers all the six basic requirements.
City staff has been taking a comprehensive look at the City's Storm Water system and the location of areas where improvements can be made both in terms of adding new storm sewer systems to areas that don't currently have storm sewer systems and ways to improve existing systems to filter and prevent potential pollutants from entering the public bodies of water.
The first of these projects is set to begin in the upcoming months in the southeast section of the community. It will provide for filtration of storm water in a large potion of the system. A total of 500 acres will be filtered in the project. The project includes a number of innovative methods of filtration including the use of rain gardens, detention ponds and filtration beds. The overall cost of the project is 1.2 million dollars, $477,000 of which will be funded with a grant from the Watershed Improvement Board.
Funding for the remainder of the project and the implementation of additional projects will come from the implementation of a Storm Water Utility.
The Storm Water Utility fee will be based on an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). Each ERU will represent 2,750 square feet of impervious surface area and will cost users $2 per month on their utility bills. Residential units will be limited to one (1) ERU and multiple family residential units will be charged one (1) ERU per housing unit.
Commercial and industrial users' storm water utility monthly fee will be based on the total impervious surface area of the facility divided by the standard ERU unit, 2,750 square feet, times the per ERU unit cost of $2. Included in the impervious surface area calculation are parking lots, roof areas, private walkways, and any other land area that is altered from its natural state and does not allow for the infiltration and retention of water equivalent to that of undisturbed soil.
Most commercial and industrial users will be receiving in the mail notification of the utility and the specific affects that the utility will have on their business.
Anyone with questions on the utility can call City Hall during normal business hours for further information.
Additionally, City staff has been working on the development of an educational and public relations effort to help inform the community regarding the requirements of the permit and the things that all of us can do to help preserve the public waterways.
In March 2006 the Storm Lake City Council adopted a Storm Water Illicit Discharge Ordinance. This ordinance helps to limit the potential pollutants that can be put into the City's storm sewer system and outlines a process for eliminating known illicit discharges and a penalty system for potential cases where violations of the ordinance occur.
"The efforts already underway combined with the illicit discharge ordinance that was recently passed are a great start to compliance with the NPDES Permit requirements," according to a city-issued statement. "The next processes that will take place including the public education elements and maintenance and construction of storm water systems are beginning and will continue to improve the City's storm water system and improve the quality of the public waterways."