See What the Stormwater Fee Funded in Its First Year

Friday, June 30, 2017
See What the Stormwater Fee Funded in Its First Year
The town maintains this stormwater control measure at Gold Park, which it installed in 2009. Stormwater control devices help slow and filter stormwater runoff, removing pollutants.

July 1 will mark one year since the Town of Hillsborough implemented a stormwater management utility and fee to comply with expanding state and federal stormwater regulations.

The annual stormwater fee applies to all developed properties within town limits, regardless of tax status, and pays for stormwater services, including:

  • Citizen assistance and education
  • Maintenance of stormwater infrastructure
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Programs for riparian buffers and new development.

When rainwater hits hard surfaces and runs off, it carries pollutants to streams and rivers.

“Once that stormwater runoff pollution reaches a waterbody, it can cause impacts to the aquatic ecosystem, pose human health risks and can greatly increase the cost of treating drinking water,” Hillsborough Stormwater and Environmental Services Manager Terry Hackett said. “That’s why our mission is to reduce stormwater runoff impacts to the Eno River.”

Here are some highlights of what the stormwater management fee paid for in its first year:

New positions

Two positions were added, bringing the number of full-time employees that the stormwater fee now funds to three.

  • Stormwater program coordinator to manage programs on illicit stormwater discharge, pollution prevention and new development. Heather Fisher joined the town in April in this role.
  • Public Works equipment operator to help with stormwater infrastructure maintenance.

Regular stormwater duties

These are among the regular duties of staff in the Stormwater and Environmental Services Division.

  • Reviewed and approved stormwater management plans for five new projects and completed preliminary reviews on seven others.
  • Conducted seven educational programs, reaching about 607 students; participated in six special events, including Orange County’s Earth Evening and West Fest’s Eno River cleanup; and provided stormwater related assistance to five citizens.
  • Conducted 22 pollution prevention inspections; investigated two illicit discharge complaints; and conducted seven inspections of stormwater control measures on town-owned property and more than 20 inspections of active construction sites.
  • Reviewed 11 stormwater fee appeals, approving 8.
  • Provided technical support to Public Space Division staff on the conversion of a swale in Cates Creek Park into a linear pollinator rain garden.

Special studies

Three stormwater studies were conducted.

  • Update and completion of stormwater infrastructure and outfall mapping. The town contracted with Summit Design and Engineering Services for the work, and data was updated in the town’s geographic information system. The mapping is critical when investigating illicit stormwater discharges and assessing maintenance needs. Cost: About $8,000.
  • Retrofit design for bioretention infrastructure at Cates Creek Park to capture and treat stormwater runoff from the parking lot. The infrastructure now only captures stormwater runoff from the restrooms. The parking lot runoff is causing erosion and affecting the water quality of a nearby stream, which drains to Cates Creek and then to the Eno River. The town contracted with Wildlands Engineering to investigate the feasibility of the project and to design a retro-fit. Construction is expected to occur in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Cost: About $13,000.
  • Assessment of the Cornwallis Hills neighborhood’s stormwater maintenance needs within street rights-of-way. The town contracted with Summit Design and Engineering Services to develop an assessment process that also will be used in other neighborhoods to systematically inspect and schedule stormwater infrastructure maintenance. Cost: About $9,800.

Major maintenance projects

The Public Works Department maintains stormwater pipes, ditches, swales, catch basins and other stormwater conveyances within town-maintained streets and town-owned property.

  • Faribault Lane — In November, a contractor made repairs to a failing stormwater pipe at a stream on the lane. The technique of repairing in place vs. replacing the pipe saved at least $45,000 and eliminated the need for road closure. Cost: $31,000.
  • Town Cemetery — Two stormwater pipes were replaced and asphalt repairs were made. Erosion from a stream was washing out the pipes, causing the pipes to separate at the joints and the road to begin to collapse. Cost: $19,600.
  • Allen Ruffin Avenue — A retro-fit to add flared ends to the stormwater cross pipe under the road was completed. Roadside repairs also were made, with riprap and fill added to correct severe erosion at the pavement edge and to widen shoulders. Cost: $11,600
  • Summit Drive — A damaged stormwater catch basin was replaced and repairs were made to the surrounding curbing. Cost: About $700.
  • Drainage conveyances — Maintenance was performed on about 1,168 feet of drainage conveyances in town. Work typically involved cleaning out ditches to improve stormwater drainage; replacing driveway pipes in disrepair; building catch basins; and installing erosion-control landscaping by reseeding and by adding erosion-control matting and riprap where needed.  Cost: 223 hours of Public Works staff time.

More information

For more information, see these town resources: