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MWA Taking Over Stormwater Management

Dec 9, 2020 by Chris Wood, Ph.D.

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Mayor Robert Reichert (right) turns the keys to Stormwater Program Management over to MWA Chairman Sam Hart (left) during a news conference announcing the transfer of the program's oversight and creation of a stormwater utility.

Even during the challenges of a pandemic, the Macon Water Authority (MWA) continues to make progress on establishing a comprehensive Stormwater Management Program by the first of the year. During ceremonies held at the Macon-Bibb County Commission Chambers (today), the Authority took over the reins as the provider of stormwater services, locally.

For years, the MWA has been overseeing and implementing capital improvements for the local stormwater infrastructure, funded through various SPLOST appropriations.

In July of 2019, at the request of the Macon-Bibb County Commission, the Authority entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Macon-Bibb County to assume responsibilities of the Stormwater Management Program, laying the legal groundwork for operations and maintenance via more comprehensive Stormwater Utility Services.

This transition manifested into a huge undertaking by the MWA, say Authority officials, who believe they have an obligation to “do the right thing” in order to: (1) bring Macon-Bibb County back into compliance with regulatory oversight following an EPA Consent Order and $145,000 fine for Macon-Bibb County’s failure to comply with related permits; (2) provide a higher level of Stormwater Services to accompany its environmental stewardship; (3) oversee critical infrastructure that’s essential for the quality of life, economic well-being, and health and safety of citizens; and (4) provide an independent and autonomous funding source for a sustainable Stormwater Management Program and Utility.

Why should the MWA assume the responsibility of Stormwater Management?

• Macon-Bibb County asked the MWA to do so, with the target date of Jan. 1, 2021, for the Authority to assume this responsibility for the Stormwater Management Program.

• The MWA has a successful record of performance in managing linear assets – water distribution and sewer collection systems – and this expertise will be critical to the maintenance and rehab of aging stormwater infrastructure.

• The MWA understands best management practices for water quality and watershed-based monitoring programs to document impact on water resources.

• The MWA already successfully manages (NPDES) regulatory permits and inspection programs impacted by stormwater pollution, so the Authority has the necessary credibility and experience to bring the Stormwater Management Program back into compliance with relevant (MS4) permits for Stormwater Utility operations.

• The MWA has in-house expertise and skilled staff to support Stormwater assets and to implement a successful and sustainable Stormwater Management Program.

To create and implement a plan of attack for taking over the Stormwater Management Program and integrating these services into the existing mission and vision of the water and sewer utility, the MWA first conducted extensive research, with the help of consulting engineers. The results of this data collection helped the Authority establish policy recommendations, a budget for the Stormwater Management Program and Utility, and preliminary stormwater rate structures, which were presented to the MWA Board at the beginning of this year.

Since that plan began formation years ago, the MWA has been hard at work making preparations to roll out more comprehensive Stormwater Management Program Services by Jan. 1, 2021. The MWA already has accepted the regulatory responsibilities of the Stormwater Management Program from Macon-Bibb County. In addition, the Authority has been implementing a public education and outreach program, beginning with communications to key customers within Macon-Bibb County who will be impacted most by this transition of Stormwater Program Management oversight.

Now, MWA consultants are wrapping up a Stormwater Program Guidebook, which will provide standard operating procedures for the Stormwater Management Program. With that, the Authority and its consultants have conducted an inventory and condition assessment of the stormwater infrastructure that’s currently in place.

“We needed to know the general condition of the stormwater infrastructure before moving forward on rehab, maintenance, and operations,” says Tony Rojas, MWA Executive Director & President.

After conducting the condition assessment of the existing stormwater system, the Authority moved to the customer side of the equation. The MWA is compiling a Master Account Database of all residential and non-single-family residential properties in the service area of Macon-Bibb County, followed by a Detail Rate Study to determine Stormwater Utility Rates for MWA customers.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the MWA will begin to bill residential customers a Stormwater User Fee of $4.99 per month, while billing non-residential customers a monthly fee of $4.99 per 2,200 square feet of impervious surface on their property, for stormwater services. The 2,200-square-feet figure represents an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU), or the amount of impervious surface for the average single-family home in Macon-Bibb County. The Stormwater User Fee will be applied directly to a customer’s monthly MWA water and sewer bill.

The first year of rollout of the Stormwater Utility in 2021 will be dedicated solely to the operation and maintenance of the stormwater system, allowing the public to receive utility services and monitor MWA progress in Stormwater Management for an entire year, prior to having to pay for those services. This “grace period” during the Authority’s initial delivery of Stormwater Services will allow the public to see the value of the MWA’s Stormwater Management Program prior to the utility billing for the use of those services.

For continual updates on the MWA Stormwater Management Program, consult the Authority’s Facebook page and the News and Announcements on this website (www.maconwater.org).

Media contact:
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
P: 770-757-1681 OR E: chris@jwapr.com

MWA contact:
Lisa Golphin, MWA Sr. Executive for Strategic Planning
P: 478-464-5623 OR E: lgolphin@maconwater.org

Tagged: mwa, macon water authority, maconbibb county commission, mwa stormwater management

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