Saturday, March 29, 2008

Seeking Volunteers for Environmental Solutions For Waverly Storm Drain Project and Others By Councilwoman Debbie Campbell

As many already know, the vote on the Waverly Storm Drain project was a particularly difficult one for me, as well as for Councilwoman Cohen. We are supportive of the project to move storm water out of residents' yards, but believe concerns we raised about moving the problem to another area of the floodplain, the blank-check opportunity for change orders to be paid by city taxpayers, and the adverse impact to our already endangered river are valid issues to be addressed.

It is possible to be environmentally responsible to our river at the same time we devise relief for property owners. This should not need to be an "either/or" choice.

To the end of finding solutions on this issue, I have continued to pursue ways of treating storm water released into the Wicomico and its tributaries. I have done quite a bit of research and was able to make contact with the Center for Watershed Protection. They have expressed interest in assisting with retrofit proposals and have shared a link to their recently released Urban Storm water Retrofit Practices manual, which will provide you with much more information on the retrofitting process – everything from scoping (e.g. to address problems such as downstream flooding, water quality, etc.) to site assessment to concept design.

The manual is available for download, free of charge, from their website. Center for Watershed Protection

If you scroll about halfway down their home page, you will see a link for the manual – just click on it and the download process will begin. I’d recommend that you take a look at Chapter 1, which provides some basics about storm water retrofitting. Chapters 2 and 3 get into some of the technical details, describing the locations where retrofitting can be accomplished (Ch. 2) and the storm water management practices that can be used (Ch. 3). Chapter 4 provides details about identifying storm water retrofit opportunities – this describes the protocol that one would follow to actually come up with a concept and design for a storm water retrofit.

I have also identified some potential sources for grant funding for at least some of the implementation. At a recent meeting, the city administration presented a list of projects to fund with some unspent bond proceeds. I suggested that retrofit of the Waverly system be added, but only Councilwoman Cohen supported my suggestion, so it died due to lack of support by the council. Therefore, I have been pursuing other funding options.

The work on this particular issue may have yielded a resource for solutions that will be much more far-reaching and could benefit the river and our community beyond what I had anticipated. This could be a "silver lining" in the debate and offers a great opportunity for us to effect city-wide storm water treatment options for existing release points to our river.

Because city staff resources are limited and because projects have an additional level of success when citizens are involved early in the process, I am asking for citizen volunteers to work with me or independently on developing these resources into a set of options for the city to consider for implementation. Please contact me right away so that incorporating a filtration method into the Waverly Storm Drain project can be addressed as soon as possible, with the added benefit of developing resources and sound policy options for the rest of the city's waterway release points.