Why Develop a Stormwater Fee?
Augusta-Richmond County has real, growing, and unresolved stormwater infrastructure problems. The Augusta Engineering Department (AED) has studied these problems and has developed a fact-based, thoughtful, and reasonable plan to address these problems.
Currently, the General Fund is unable to provide sufficient funds for stormwater infrastructure maintenance, even when combined with voter-approved SPLOST funds. A stormwater utility, similar to a water and wastewater utility, charges a user fee proportional to the services provided and is the most equitable manner to fund the enhanced stormwater program.
What are the Benefits to Augusta of this Stormwater Fee?
The enhanced stormwater program would focus on the following three priorities:
(1) Manage Augusta’s stormwater assets in a sustainable manner
(2) Protect the health, safety, and well being of the community
(3) Support realization of the Garden City
These priorities include comprehensive management of the existing stormwater assets (pipes and ditches), implementing region-wide capital projects to alleviate flood risks, and projects to avoid costly failures such as the Mims Road, Birdwell Road, Walton Way, Wrightsboro Road, and Patterson Bridge.Some other benefits of the stormwater fee to Augusta include:
- Immediate Construction of Small Drainage Projects. Currently there are over 50 small drainage projects that have been designed but funds are not available for construction.
- Immediate Stormwater Related Maintenance Activities. AED will follow a schedule for vegetation control, storm pipe and structure cleaning, street sweeping, and detention pond cleaning.
- Ability to Bond Larger Stormwater Projects. In the future, the stormwater enterprise fund could be used to secure bonds for larger stormwater projects.
- Funding for Emergency Stormwater Projects. Augusta has experienced major collapses such as Wrightsboro Road Cave-in/Sinkholes, Mims Road Cave-in/Collapse, Birdwell Road Washout/Collapse, Patterson Bridge Road Sinkhole Collapse, Colony Park Culvert Collapse, etc. The stormwater enterprise fund would be used to address these problems proactively and/or address emergency needs.
- Fully Comply with Augusta’s Stormwater Permit. Augusta is required to implement a stormwater management plan as part of the Federal Clean Water Act (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit or MS4). Augusta only meets minimum levels of compliance under the current program and is under increasing pressure to implement additional programs to become more compliant.
- Generate a Stream of Revenue just for Stormwater Infrastructure. For the past three (3) years, there have been no General Funds allocated for stormwater infrastructure maintenance. SPLOST is currently the only source of revenue, which is unpredictable and competitive - with needs from the other City Departments and Organizations.
- Improve Appearance of Augusta, GA. More frequent mowing and maintenance activities will support realization of the Garden City.
- Revenue for Expansion of Existing Stormwater Infrastructure. Meeting the future infrastructure needs for Cyber Command and other Industries.