Storm water costs to rise in 2011Another buck won’t be enough to solve Red Wing’s storm water runoff issues, according the city’s Public Works brass.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Another buck won’t be enough to solve Red Wing’s storm water runoff issues, according the city’s Public Works brass.
Last year, the City Council bumped Red Wing’s storm water fee from $4 to $5 per household. Money collected from that fee funds Red Wing’s efforts to manage rainwater that falls in the city and runs into the Mississippi River, Lake Pepin and other local waterways.
“That $1 increase is not enough to help this fund,” Public Works Director Rick Moskwa told council members Saturday during a planning retreat.
Red Wing, like other cities close by major waterways, is mandated under the federal Clean Water Act to manage its storm water.
To that end the city conducts street sweeps and has planted rain gardens, installed storm ponds and maintains other storm water infrastructure. These measures curb the sentiments and harmful chemicals that enter storm drains and rural ditches.
But these efforts aren’t cheap, Moskwa said, and control measures are only going to become more expensive.
Up until now, Red Wing has been charged with controlling the amount of storm water that enters local waters.
But this year regulatory requirements will be ratcheted up, said Bob Stark, Red Wing deputy director of utilities. Stark said Red Wing will be charged with monitoring the quality of its storm water.
“The biggest issue for us is going to be the water quality issues,” he said.
If the City Council doesn’t allocate more money for storm water management, the city will incur fines handed down by environmental regulators, Moskwa said. Meanwhile, he urged council members to talk to residents about storm water.
Some have complained they should not have to pay the fee because the city has not built storm water infrastructure on or near their property.
Moskwa, however, argued that while there may not be a storm drain in front of their home that does not mean storm water does not run off their property.
City Council took no action during the workshop Saturday. Council members did say they would continue to monitor the issue.
Council members have previously expressed frustration that storm water regulations are an unfunded mandate. Moskwa said while that is exasperating, managing storm water is the right thing to do environmentally, even if it costs a lot. He added that’s why reaching out to the public is important.
“If people can be educated about this they’ll support it,” Moskwa said. “The populous will agree it’s the right thing to do.”