By Sean Tubbs
Monday, November 1, 2010
Charlottesville Planning Commission
has received a briefing from city environmental staff on the multitude of efforts planned to protect the city’s water resources.
“Within our own Charlottesville watersheds [we] have a lot of challenges and opportunities that are driven by local water quality goals, and development and redevelopment challenges,” said Kristel Riddervold, the city’s environmental administrator.
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“We have impaired streams and our short term goal really should be to prevent further deterioration of those streams,” Riddervold said. “And then the longer term goal should be towards the improvement of the water quality and trying to see what places we can actually enhance and protect those resources.”
One of the new tools at staff’s disposal is a new layer in the city’s geographical information database that maps the location of all streams that pass through Charlottesville. This gives developers additional information about the location of streams that is not available by solely using data from the U.S. Geologic Survey.
One of the challenges faced by municipalities is handling stormwater runoff. The city owns and operates over 50 miles of pipes that convey rainwater within the district. About 25% of that amount needs to be replaced.
“As a result of that you start seeing sink holes and collapses in roadways,” said Dan Frisbee, the city’s stormwater coordinator.
In November 2008,
city council opted not to institute a stormwater fee
to help pay for a $2.5 million a year program to replace and maintain the pipes. For now, that money comes out of the city’s capital improvement program. Riddervold said that could change as the city takes steps to implement the Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates.
“If and when we to back and revisit the comprehensive stormwater program and the fee, the new environment of 2011 is going to inform that discussion because there will be significant requirements that have increased,” Riddervold said.
New construction projects undertaken by the city have given the opportunity to impound stormwater for other uses.
“We’ve got a 40,000 gallon tank at the high school,’ Riddervold said. “We’ve put in a 50,000 gallon system out at the transit maintenance complex. That water is being used to wash buses, because why would you use drinking water? It’s a way to manage and use on an ongoing basis the rainwater and keep it on site.”