City of Springfield Environment News Releases

Posted on: September 23, 2014

Council learns more about stormwater policies and practice

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

City of Springfield stormwater engineer Todd Wagner addressed City Council Tuesday at the weekly lunch workshop. He presented information at the request of Council members, who had questions about the City’s stormwater management practices, particularly when it comes to approving new developments. Flood control measures are required on all new developments that increase runoff and water quality protection measures are required on all new developments with specific criteria on developments of more than an acre.

Good stormwater management benefits citizens and the community by both reducing potential flood hazards and protecting area waterways. The City's stormwater management program also includes construction of stormwater improvement projects to address flooding and enhance water quality, as well as public education, investigation of pollution, and other activities which the city is required to implement under its federally mandated stormwater permit.

To maintain compliance with state and federal requirements for storm water management on urban development, Wagner said City staff will bring a package of modifications to the City’s storm water requirements to City Council in the coming months. That package is expected to include ordinances addressing flood and water quality protection, and the adoption of a storm water design manual that is currently being used in draft form.

“We have very good stormwater management policies and practices regulating runoff from development in place already,” he explains. “There are always additional issues to consider as we continually strive for a balance between a healthy climate for economic development and regulatory compliance to protect our water resources.” Wagner noted that Springfield was one of the first communities to have stormwater detention requirements for new development back in 1983 and began requiring water quality protection measures in 1999.

He said that mistakes made decades ago still have an impact today. For example, many homes and businesses were built in flood prone areas years ago with little planning for future development. Over the past 20 years, the City has invested $13 million in removing houses and buildings from flood prone areas and acquiring priority tracts of land for the protection of streams and use as recreational trails. Between 1995 and 2010, the City invested over $60 million in projects to reduce flood damages, completing over 100 construction projects. It also acquired 200 flood prone properties.

And then there’s the challenge of a growing community coupled with aging storm water infrastructure. Wagner estimates more than $200 million is needed for “priority” projects to address the public’s requests for help with flooding. In addition, it is estimated that at least $160 million will be needed in the coming 10-15 years to replace stormwater structures that are currently 50 to 100-plus years old.

Since the sunset of the Springfield/Greene County Parks/Stormwater Sales tax in 2012, the City has no dedicated funding stream for stormwater improvements, maintenance or regulatory compliance for water quality protection. In 2013, the Springfield/Greene County Citizens Stormwater Tax force recommended a combination of a permanent 1/10 cent sales and a 7-year 1/8 cent sales tax as the best approach to funding the current and impending storm water system needs.

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Side note about the City’s Stormwater System:The City's stormwater drainage system is separate from the sanitary sewer system (indoor sinks, toilets, etc). The sanitary sewer system drains to the city's two wastewater treatment plants, while the stormwater system drains directly to area streams, rivers, and lakes.

What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is the runoff from rainfall and snow melt. In undeveloped areas such as grasslands and forests, much of the rainfall and snow melt soaks into the ground. Vegetation helps to slow runoff.

In urban areas, buildings and other impervious surfaces such as parking lots do not allow water to soak into the ground resulting in both increased amounts of runoff and faster flow. Along the way, runoff can pick up pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides from yards, motor oil from leaking cars, pet waste, and dirt from construction sites. This can cause downstream waterways to become polluted.

What are some best practices? Wagner said some of the better practices for stormwater management are: preserving natural waterways; minimizing impervious areas; disconnecting impervious areas with pervious areas; preserving existing natural vegetation and soil structure as much as possible and providing on-site measures to reduce runoff volume through infiltration, evaporation through plants or reuse for irrigation or grey water.

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For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), cscott@springfieldmo.gov.

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