Managing stormwater is an important quality-of-life issue for Mason neighborhoods and business areas.
No matter whether you live in an older or newer part of Mason, you may notice water collecting in your neighborhood after an extended heavy rain.
The city’s storm sewer system is a separate system from the one that collects wastewater from your home. The wastewater collection system (sanitary sewer system) carries wastewater to the Water Reclamation Facility for treatment.
Stormwater, on the other hand, is produced by rain or melting snow and runs into the city’s storm drains. Storm drains are usually located in the street along the curb. These empty into a collection system that eventually flows directly into area lakes and streams. This is why street drains should never be used to dispose of pet wastes, oils, paint cleaners, or other household materials.
The City of Mason faces the dual challenge of maintaining its aging stormwater infrastructure in the older portion of the city and overseeing an expanding drainage system in developing areas. The city has a list of over 80 projects that would contribute to better stormwater management if they were completed. These projects, located in areas throughout the city, range from correcting smaller backyard drainage problems to reconstructing whole sections of the storm sewer system.
Stormwater management began in Mason in November 1998, when the city established a Stormwater Advisory Committee in recognition of the impending federal mandate. This committee of Mason residents and business representatives presented their recommendation to create a new Stormwater Utility to City Council in 2001.
In April 2001, City Council approved the stormwater utility. Collections for the utility began in October 2001 and are a funding source for stormwater management projects in the city. These projects will help maintain and improve the existing stormwater system, improve water quality in all streams throughout Mason, and educate residents and businesses about the need for good stormwater and water pollution management practices.
Management efforts have included projects on the city’s Capital Improvement Projects list, creating an inventory of the stormwater collection system components, maintaining and repairing those components, and implementing several of the Best Management Practices required by the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II permit.
Considerable progress has been made since 2001. Projects have alleviated flooding in Mason’s downtown area along Reading Road and in the area south of Tylersville between Reading and Mason-Montgomery Roads. Neighborhoods have received assistance with managing their detention basins, and education efforts have made more residents aware of how their actions may affect area waterways. Prioritizing and implementing future projects continues.
Stormwater Utility Fee
The Stormwater Utility fee is a fee charged to property owners in Mason according to how much stormwater runoff they create. The amount of water running off the property is directly related to the amount of impervious surfaces on the property (surfaces that do not absorb water.) Impervious surfaces include roofs, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.
Residents pay a fixed stormwater utility fee because there is relatively little variation in the amount of impervious surfaces from yard to yard. Businesses pay a fee based on the actual amount of impervious surfaces on their property.
Revenues from stormwater fees are used solely for stormwater management and education.
Stormwater Management Program
Governments and environmentalists have long been concerned about pollution in our nation’s lakes and streams. Over the years, as new regulations were put into place and industries and corporations stopped discharging wastes into waterways, pollution levels dropped significantly. Now, pollutants that are carried into local streams off of driveways, roads, lawns, and fields by rain and melting snow are being targeted for control.
To address these stormwater pollutant concerns, the City of Mason, along with over 480 other local governments across Ohio, was required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to apply for a Phase II stormwater permit by March 2003. As part of the permit process, cities are required to implement a Stormwater Management Program to reduce stormwater pollutant discharges to the “maximum extent practicable.”
On March 10, 2003, City Council approved the Stormwater Management Program for the permit application. The program is a combination of existing Best Management Practices and new practices suggested by the U.S. EPA that specifically address water quality.
As cities across Ohio and the nation implement their stormwater management programs, pollutants carried into streams and lakes by runoff from stormwater will be reduced, creating a more healthy environment for everyone.
SWMP Update PDF