Stormwater committee discusses new budget and possible projects

The stormwater advisory committee met on Monday, November 20.

Liberty Stormwater Issues: The meeting started with questions for the city engineer Lynn Miggins regarding costs of a potential storm sewer outfall project that would cover from Liberty Ford to Liberty Auto Wash on Liberty and North to Elberta Road. Miggins explained that the estimate was $950,000 with additional costs such as inspections and administrative services, the project total would be approximately $1,050,000. She went on to explain that the last time it was proposed, the council then decided they didn’t have the money for the project and instead choose to go forward with the drainage project along Elberta Road that opened up all the ditches. She said if they were to build something like this today, they would take the trunk sewer up Niagara rather than Elberta. Also, Morton Road would be another option.  The west side of Elberta Beach that abuts up to the Crystal Cove Condominiums is the end of the drainage area.  Properties to the west drain to another outlet; they don’t come to the Elberta outfall.

Miggins went on to explain that the city does have a 20’ strip of property along Niagara Road and is where the properties on the east side abut up to Edison Village and to Kingston.  She went on to say even if they were willing to build the trunk sewer in that 20’ strip of land and not tie into all the individual properties; just make it a trunk sewer basically to service the properties on the south side of Liberty; once adding up the costs of all the main lines on Liberty and the north/south run, it was still about $600,000.  Even if they chose to not run it down a street and not to have all the costs of time in the individual property owners, it would be a sizable project.  They would also have to add 10% to the $600,000 for engineering inspection services.

The committee and Miggins spent some time discussing which commercial properties have expressed concerns over stormwater issues, so they could further explore their options to determine what would be the most cost-effective route. Board member R.J. Hickey said relative to the ditch that runs down the Norfolk & Southern line is there any way to pursue conversation with the railroad as far as tying into that.  Miggins responded that they could try, but in the past the railroad company has been very resistant to anything involving their property.

Riverside Drive Drainage: Councilman Frank Loucka sent a letter and photos to board member Matt Hasel regarding a problem area on Riverside Drive roughly 80-feet from the catch basin. Hasel asked Miggins about estimates to fix the problem. Miggins responded that her and service director Tony Valerius had been to the site several times to consider their options. Miggins suggested it was actually a paving project since the road was caved in causing water to collect. She went on to say they could repave that portion of the road for $15,000 – $20,000. While Hasel agreed with her assessment, he suggested that while waiting for street funds, could they put in a catch basin or dig a swale to prolong the pavement life. After much discussion, the committee presented and passed a motion to recommend to the administration to put in a 2-foot by 2-foot precast concrete catch basin and to match the outlet size.

Stormwater budget summary: Hasel said currently with the 2018 projections, the commercial fees are capped at $30.00 per month, which will increase to $60.00 in 2018.  He asked what the funds are today and what they will go up to once the cap increases to $60.00 per month. Valerius said he received some figures from the finance director and it stands at $88,040.  For 2018, it is expected to be around $400,000. Hasel asked if this number included the debt taken out.  Hickey responded that he believed the first $3 of the $5.50 stormwater fee was pretty well committed to principal and interest retirement.  Based on that, he asked if the $2.50 difference is generating the $400,000. Hasel believed it was before anything was taken out because they were at $190,000 before the increase. Hickey said then slightly over half of this amount won’t be available, so they are getting down closer to $180,000. Hasel said it looks like they have around $200,000 per year they are able to spend on stormwater projects.  The committee also voted to re-recommend to city council to amend Chapter 1080.08 entitled “Deposit and Proceeds of Collections” to increase the annual $100,000 to $200,000 for payment of debt. If this recommendation is accepted, it would allow the committee to look at larger projects.

Stormwater problems by Ward: Hasel stated that now that the stormwater fee has increased and they are recommending an increase in the amount that can go towards debt, they can start making a priority list of projects by Ward. He asked council to provide their priorities to the clerk by email prior to the next stormwater meeting.

Sewage problems: Councilwoman Barb Brady said in Vermilion on the Lake they had their sanitary lines rehabilitated about 10 years ago, but every time they get a heavy rain they get sanitary backup.  It’s getting to the point where people can’t flush their toilets, use their sinks, or run their dishwashers or washing machines. She said two weeks ago they had a lot of rain and people are getting flooded in their house with sanitary water.  The city at this point doesn’t seem to have a solution, so she asked the board to spend some money for a study to find out how this water is getting in.  Hasel agreed this is a frustrating problem but questioned how the ordinance is written from a city level, but with it being sanitary he understands that it is stormwater that’s infiltrating the sanitary lines.

Hickey said most of those lines are clay tile and they are deeper than the storm system and most of the older homes are tied into it because they are based on gravity fall, so their footer tiles are running into it.  However, when the water table comes up above the level of the sanitary system you’re going to get water because the system is immediately inundated with water.  He went on to say that unless they go to a PVC water tight system; unlike the clay tile that is currently in use, they are never going to be able to keep the stormwater out of there when the water table comes up above it.  He said until they get money to replace the sanitary system it is what it is.

One Edgewater resident was at the meeting and asked to speak. He stated that he is one of the victims that Brady mentioned. He disagreed with Hickey’s assessment of the problem and asserted there is a serious enforcement problem. He doesn’t think its ground water coming in laterals; when there is more than an inch of water those sanitary sewers overflow and flow into the stormwater drains, and eventually empty to the lake.  He assured council that when this happens for a few hours, the city is not in compliance with federal and state law. If they go up and down the streets he is sure they can find and make reference to the fact that many of the houses tie into their drains underground.  If you see a drain going from a roof to a gutter to the underground, then you know it’s not going to a storm sewer. However, Hickey argued with him asserting that it could be and he can’t make assumptions simply by looking at drain spouts. Miggins offered some suggestions on projects that might help alleviate the problem, but after further heated discussion regarding the actual cause of the problem, the meeting ended with no real resolution.




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