Retention pond issue raises bigger concern about maintenance issues

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News 12 at 6 O'clock / Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Augusta, Ga (WRDW) -- "About one o'clock in the morning, looked out and we had lakefront property," said Bonnie Williams who lives in Whitney Place neighborhood.

This mess has since been cleaned up but Bonnie Williams and her neighbors are dealing with a bigger issue.

"That's private property, we can't go in there and that was the frustrating thing," she said.

This retention pond once owned by a business, has now been abandoned. Williams made her calls to get answers as to who owned it, and so did News 12.

"Trying to find who owned it to get the right legally to go in there and clean it up and work on it," she said.

Eventually, the city of Augusta stepped in after News 12 spoke about what could possibly be done. It's one of 12 retention ponds, Wes Byne is working to clean up.

It's also one that now doesn't have an owner. It's been gathering up dust and other things for years.

"They get a lot of debris, a lot of clippings, a lot of branches," said Byne.

With last months major ice storm and years of poor maintenance, this retention pond outside of Whitney Place, needs attention now.

"We're putting a pump out there to pump the pond down," said Byne. "Water level's still so high that we don't have good grip on what's actually happened."

But this is just part of a bigger issue across the city. Other areas are dealing with the same issues including backed up storm drains and clogged up drainage ditches.

"You have to maintain, keep them clean, keep them inspected, this one has pine trees growing out of it," he said.

The stormwater utility fee could help keep the water running...Smoothly.

"Will give us a level income stream, allows to keep up with the system and prevent problems like this from happening," he said.

Neighboring Columbia County has had their stormwater utility fee flowing for more than a decade, costing residents about four bucks a month. If passed in Richmond County, households would pay an estimated 6 dollars a month.

"You know we're willing to pay for it, the services to keep it from happening," said Williams.

The small fee could be what it takes to help prevent issues like these and keep things less clogged.

"The results are more expensive then maintaining it from the front end," she said.

Byne says it's only a short-term fix until the owners of the private retention pond is contacted. He says other retention ponds in the county are city owned and maintained but the Stormwater Utility Fee would help keep those privately owned retention ponds kept up, incase they are abandoned.