FAIRBORN – The City of Fairborn receives numerous complaints each year regarding storm water drainage. However, city officials are currently working with a firm and taking steps to alleviate these concerns.
“We have documented probably about 500 different complaints every year regarding storm water, and it really impacts almost every area of the city,” Assistant City Manager Pete Bales of the City of Fairborn said. “Certainly some are worse than others, but most every area has some documented storm water issues.”
In a recent council work session, it was reported that when some of the storm sewer lines were implemented within the city, the current regulations in relation to such were not yet in place. The city has also expanded since the lines were constructed. Therefore, the current storm water sewer system is not compatible with the city’s current needs.
“We have several areas in the city that have very limited, if not hardly non-existent storm water infrastructure and so when it rains, we do not have the adequate infrastructure to convey all the water away,” he said. “Some areas … are so flat that there’s not enough slope to convey the water away quickly enough, so we see a lot of flooding … The storm water infrastructure is under-sized, it was built 50, 60, 70 years ago, and just isn’t adequate to handle today’s needs.”
The firm has developed a model, and is currently in the process of assembling master plan that will allow officials to identify areas of concern, as well as potential solutions.
“A model will actually determine how storm water flows through the city,” Bales said. “They’ve taken a look at all of our storm water infrastructure through our GIS, the size of our pipes and everything else, and they’ve also monitored the flow through active rain gauges and flow monitors that they’ve put inside the pipes. They’ve got a real-time model so they can determine how water moves through our system. With that, they can determine solutions to adequately solve our issues. But none of that goes without a price.”
The firm has determined a cost of approximately $45 million to completely solve the issue; Bales said the solution would come in time. There is currently no funding mechanism in place for the matter. However, city officials are in talks of a storm water utility, which is similar to a water and sewer utility in that it would be a dedicated revenue source that would generate an annually fixed dollar amount and would be dedicated solely to storm water matters.
The recent discussion allowed officials to determine that a storm water utility would generate $700,000 each year. Bales said that amount would help, but not solve the issue. The master plan, which Bales suspects will be completed within the next month or so, will allow them to prioritize the areas that will first receive attention.
“City council is going to be faced with difficult decisions because it’s not easy when tackling a subject with a scope so large,” Bales said. “I think ultimately funding of the solution is going to be the largest challenge, and implementing those solutions will be a timely process. There’s not an overnight, blink-of-an-eye solution, but we’re going to tackle it as responsibly and systematically as possible.”