Jan 13, 2005

N.C. Town Begins Assessment of Stormwater Challenges

The town of Sylva, N.C., soon will begin advertising for engineers to help leaders develop a stormwater management plan.
A federal mandate has pushed stormwater management to the forefront of many city and town’s planning departments as development has increased impervious surfaces. These impervious surfaces—such as large shopping center parking lots—leave no natural escape route for rainwater.
Rather, rainwater picks up vehicle pollutants such as oil before making its way into creeks and streams. Stormwater management is an effort to reduce the pollutants carried into water supplies. The federal mandate to implement a stormwater management plan has hit larger cities first.
"Right now there is no official word on when Sylva might fall under this mandate, but it is one of the largest unfunded mandates to ever hit municipalities," said Sylva Town Manager Richard McHargue. "When we do fall under the requirements, we better be ready to respond."
In July, Sylva received a $40,000 grant from the N.C Clean Water Management Trust Fund to develop a stormwater management plan. The plan, to be developed by environmental engineers, will identify existing stormwater controls such as catch basins and ditches and recommend future improvements such as wetlands or underground storage vaults, McHargue said.
The town’s street committee members, McHargue, Public Works Director Dan Schaeffer and Mayor Brenda Oliver will review each submitted engineering plan before making a final recommendation to the town board for approval. However, the town is only to the point of developing a plan, not necessarily implementing it.
"Once we are mandated, figuring out how to create and manage an ongoing, active stormwater management program that will include establishing and enforcing development ordinances will be another ballgame," McHargue said.