While leaders in Roanoke push forward with a proposed stormwater utility fee, leaders in the Roanoke Valley's other localities are weighing their options as they work to get their stormwater system in compliance with new federal guidelines.
Roanoke County recently hired a consultant and put together a committee made up of people representing various stakeholders (community members, churches, Tanglewood Mall, real estate agents, and others) to examine the stormwater issue. They'll look at the county's existing stormwater system, identify what needs to be done to get it in compliance with the new regulations, and come up with options for how the county can pay for those fixes.
"Everything that we've done in the county so far has been predominantly based around flood control and erosion control," said Richard Caywood, Assistant County Administrator for Roanoke County. "The new regulations also get into water quality."
The Town of Vinton is joining forces with Roanoke County on this venture and is contributing $10,000 to the study.
"For the water to go through Roanoke County, it has to go through the town [of Vinton], and then continue on into the Roanoke River," said Chris Lawrence, Town Manager for the Town of Vinton. "So we have partnered with the county to conduct the stormwater study."
The committee has already met twice and will meet again Thursday, October 24. They have already scheduled several other meetings (http://www.roanokecountyva.gov/index.aspx?NID=1412) and are expected to make their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in Spring 2014.
Caywood and Lawrence say it's too early in the process to know if they'll have to adopt a stormwater utility fee like what Roanoke is proposing -- but they acknowledge it's a discussion they'll likely have to have.
It's certainly something the committee will discuss because that's an option," said Caywood.
"We don't have extra money necessarily laying around in Vinton, said Lawrence. "We've programmed all the taxes that we receive. So we will have to look at what other revenue sources are available."
The City of Salem says it hopes to manage its stormwater challenges without a utility fee. City officials are currently updating city ordinances related to stormwater to get them in compliance with the new regulations. They're also bidding out stormwater improvement projects.
"We prioritize, list them, figure out where the money is, figure out where we're going to put that in the rotational order, and then address those issues," said Chuck Van Allman, City Engineer for the City of Salem.
This Spring, Salem also plans to conduct a public survey as part of an outreach program to educate citizens about the dangers of stormwater pollution and how they can help improve water quality.