Letter to the editor: Stormwater questions
To the editor:
Given that city commissioners plan to raise stormwater fees (again), I’m still hoping for an in-depth news story about this long-running issue. Although the late Nancy Shontz proposed a stormwater management master plan back in 1980, it took the flood of 1993 to finally push the city into action. Today, Lawrence utility-payers need to know which of the 41 projects from the 1996 Stormwater Management Master Plan have been completed and which still remain in limbo. Back then, the city recommended a $4 stormwater fee, but cries from the Chamber of Commerce foolishly reduced it to $2 (1997). This small but crucial fee rose all too gradually from $3 (2001) to $4 (2003) to $5 (by 2013, per my utility bill), with added cents since then.
How large is the current backlog of stormwater projects, and by what priorities? What new major and minor projects have been created by the over-development of impervious surfaces within our 17 watersheds, including the special case of North Lawrence (2005)? How much stormwater revenue does the city actually need to install (and repair) both old and new projects? What stormwater fee would it actually take to raise sufficient revenue to address prioritized projects over the next five to 10 years? I encourage residents to fully understand our stormwater needs before the next “surprise” flood wreaks havoc on our community due to ongoing climate change.