Photo by Neil Dampier Photography.
, is taking a
comprehensive look at the city's urban/suburban polluted runoff
in order to improve local
The effort includes developing a master
plan that will prioritize needed projects, such as best management projects and
low-impact development, all funded with proceeds from a new runoff utility
City Council adopted the fee in April to fund the city's runoff management
program, which is intended to meet Virginia's commitments to clean up local
streams and the Bay. Petersburg property owners will pay a
monthly amount based on the impervious surface on their property. The fee for
residential units will be $3.75 per month, a value generated by the average
impervious surface of each residential property.
Property owners looking to reduce the
fee will have the option to receive credits for implementing best management
practices, such as rain barrels and buffer systems that cut down on water
rushing across impervious surfaces.
Steven Hicks, Petersburg director of Transit, Utilities, and Public Works, said that revenue generated by the fee
will create sustainable funds that the city can use to repair existing drainage
structures and properly manage erosion and sediment runoff. The funds will also
be used to devise new projects to improve water quality, such as low-impact
development and runoff management best practices.
Petersburg has hired Timmons Group, an
engineering firm based in Chesterfield County, Va., to help the city design and
develop a runoff master plan that will organize the city's future water quality
"This stormwater master plan is really
going to make a big difference in protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed," said Hicks. "We have partnered with Timmons Group as an extension of our staff
to assist us in prioritizing projects, [from] small projects that we know will
make a big difference quickly to large-scale projects that will require
significant design and capital investment."
Petersburg has plans for several new
runoff projects, including storm sewer replacement projects in Western Hills
and along Forest Lane, North Park Drive, and Walnut Boulevard. In addition, the
city plans to incorporate environmentally friendly development processes such
as Low Impact Development (LID) that involve altering site planning, design,
and construction practices. These will reduce the impact of polluted runoff on
the surrounding land.
Hicks estimates that the annual runoff
management program will cost approximately $1.5 million and will be funded
entirely by revenue from the fee and grant money. The city was recently awarded
a $150,000 grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for research on
improving runoff management.
"They [the foundation] are instrumental
and wonderful people to work with [and] have helped us fund our geographic information
system to provide an accurate and easily accessible repository for physical
data so that we can improve our watershed. Without the foundation's support, we
would not have been successful in establishing our stormwater management
program and utility fee," Hicks said.
Petersburg is also applying for state
funding to assist the city with its runoff management. The 2013 Virginia General
Assembly appropriated $35 million to help localities with polluted runoff projects.
While some citizens may be
uncomfortable with another user fee required by the city, Hicks said, the
public has been open to discussion and understanding of the need for the
"The City Council had a series of work
sessions to gain input from the citizens," Hicks said. "I think that by and
large citizens realize that they have a duty and environmental responsibility
to protect our natural resources and our streams and rivers and our Bay for
The fee took effect July 1 and billing
started in September.