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Georgetown considers stormwater strategy

June 23, 2010
With heavy spring rains extending week after week, this has been a trying year for Georgetown officials dealing with stormwater run-off in the town's outlying areas.

Subdivisions and developments inside the town limits have experienced problems with stormwater for several years. Excessive stormwater may not have been taken seriously when some of the developers designed and built the subdivisions and, through the years, property owners who now live in those developments, are showing up at the town council meetings wanting answers and solutions to their water run-off problems.

The town's engineers and town officials have admitted there are problems in some of the areas and are willing to work on solutions, but those solutions are costly.

At a meeting last Monday evening, residents got an opportunity to voice their concerns about the stormwater problems and how they are affecting their properties. And even before the meeting, the town already had identified more than 15 stormwater projects that need to be addressed.

"Basically, we have a lot of old storm drains that need repairs," Jim Reynolds, public works director for the town, said. "Now, we have to comply with MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer systems) regulations. This is a challenge for the town. We need a lot of help with finances and resources. In order to follow through with specs right now, I'd need $1 million. We get $1 a month from each of our water customers for MS4, and that revenue is all I have to spend for these projects. However, just one project is going to cost $32,000 to fix. The last thing we want to do is increase rates. We may have to get a loan or use some creative financing to get the work done in a timely manner."

Town Council President Billy Stewart believes that the town will need $400,000 to $500,000 to address all the stormwater problems that the MS4 calls for.

"We're just now finding out how many stormwater projects there are in the town that we need to address," Stewart said. "That's why we had the public meeting — to see if there were problems out there we didn't know about.

"This is another one of those things that the federal government requires but doesn't fund. So, the financial burden falls on the town. Any town with less than 7,000 people is exempt from the federal requirements, but Georgetown, and Greenville as well, has been added as part of the Louisville metro area, so that puts us in the same category as New Albany and Floyd County, and we have to comply with the same rules."

Georgetown knows there are problems with the town's stormwater run-off and storm drains, and it plans to make repairs, but financing will probably be the first hurdle for the town.

"I'll admit that some of the developers probably didn't look at the big picture, like where the rainwater was going to go, when some of these developments were being built," Stewart said. "But, Georgetown accepted these developments into the town and, now, we have to fix them. We're looking at our options, like getting a low-interest loan or a grant. With only $1 a month from the customers' bills going into an account for this, that just gives us about $1,300 a month, or $15,000 a year, to use for these projects. So, we're going to have to be creative and find more funding in order to get these repairs done."

"We have plenty of projects," Reynolds added, "but not much money to address them."

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