Is there a need for a storm water district in Clermont County?
According to Clermont County Stormwater Department Program Manager and Technical Advisory Committee Member John McManus, the answer is a resolute yes.
The EPA recently mandated that all county cities, villages, and townships reduce pollution from storm water runoff. It has also been determined that storm water runoff is the primary source of stream impairment in the county.
Therefore McManus, on behalf of the Clermont County Board of Commissioners, will be attending village and city council meetings in the next several months to present the project proposal and solicit councilmembers’ opinions and advice, beginning with Amelia.
“In the growing villages of Clermont County, there is more than a fair share of storm water runoff,” said McManus. “The deterioration of existing systems, pipes, and catch basins have created many problems that need to be addressed, sooner rather than later.”
The problems are indeed many. In his presentation, McManus outlined the problems that villages face when storm water builds up and current systems of pipes and catch basins fail. From 1997 to 2005, the Engineer’s Office said that they received an average of 173 complaint calls a year concerning storm water runoff and damage.
“The primary storm water problem is standing water in residential areas. Where there is standing water, there are drainage issues. Of course, this leads to mosquitoes, vermin, the infectious diseases they carry, and other headaches,” said McManus.
Other problems include flooding of roadways, homes, and buildings, the aging and damage to existing infrastructure, water quality problems (In Milford, excess storm water floods the sewage system into the Little Miami River), and the lack of any local coordinated management.
Amelia councilmembers were most concerned with the cost of implementing a storm water drain project in the Village.
The county storm water utility project, which would take five years to complete, will cost an estimated $30.8 million. For the first five years, the rate for the average citizen will be $3.81 a month, which is based on the cost that the storm water project’s services would provide. Even non-residential areas with acres of impervious space, such as schools and churches, would not be exempt.
“The fee would show up as a special assessment charge on tax bills,” said McManus. “Administratively, this option made the most sense. No one would be exempt from the fee.”
Amelia village clerk and Treasurer Kerry Schulze said that there will be a need for public education on this and that resident’s opinions and ideas also would need to be solicited.
McManus will report back to the commissioners on his findings and they will then either approve or reject moving forward with the the project. In any case, Clermont County village, township, and city councilmembers will have the final say on the matter.
“The commissioners see a need for this project, but they are also very sensitive about other living expenses, such as heat and gas. They have sent me on the road with this proposal as a fact finding mission. My personal opinion is that if we do this now, we can plan better for the future. One way or another, homeowners and county residents will have to pay eventually.”
The Board of Commissioners could take action on the proposal as soon as February of next year.