News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Columbia County calls itself a storm-ready county, and with the help of a stormwater utility fee in place for homeowners, the county is ready with a comprehensive plan to prevent flooding and reduce the number of problems created by stormwater.
"This infrastructure has always been out of sight, out of mind," said Mark Inglett, the operations director for Storm Water Utility. "Folks don't think about it a lot."
Until their own property is affected.
Bill Clayton, the director for stormwater utility, said, "When you start having 4 inches of rain an hour, places are going to flood."
One major problem area used to be Stevens Creek Road.
"Oh yes, Stevens Creek Road used to flood all the time. Above average rain, it would flood, make that area impassable," Clayton explained.
However, over time, a lot of change has taken place. The road was raised at least 10 feet above its original point. Now, flooding isn't an issue during major rainfall.
"At some point and time, pretty much all of us ride down Stevens Creek road," Clayton said. "Everyone benefits from it. Some more than others because they have problems right in their backyard."
The average homeowner pays around $2 to $4, depending on things like the size of their roof and driveway, which create runoff stormwater.
"Just through operations and rehabilitation of systems that have failed and new construction projects, I think we have done a lot of good in a lot of places," Inglett said.
The fee has helped pay for more than $3 million in projects, such as pipe replacements, drainage improvements and stormwater control.
"The area that feeds Reed Creek has been one of the major areas where we've been working," Inglett said. "We'll help alleviate choke points in the system."
The stormwater utility director said the end result is one homeowners or drivers in the county don't usually see, since a sign of improvement is less property damage or fewer roads flooding. A lot of the stormwater drainage systems are designed to withstand 25-year storm conditions.