North Augusta Stormwater Collection System
Questions or concerns? contact: Tanya Strickland at 803 441-4246
The Stormwater Management Department operates and maintains the city owned stormwater collection system to provide for the efficient removal of stormwater from streets, to prevent impacts to residential or commercial property and to protect water quality. Part of the effort requires inspections of city stormwater ponds, street drains, city parking area drains, yard inlets in your neighborhood or at municipal buildings, vegetated or paved ditches and all of the piping and other infrastructure associated with the collection system. All of these systems drain to a point (outfalls) located either in a stream, creek or the Savannah River. The outfalls are also inspected to ensure that they are working as designed. If the inspection reveals a problem with the system, the problem is analyzed and either repaired, replaced, cleaned or re-engineered to work more efficiently. Inspections are conducted throughout the community.
Many times a problem may occur in-between inspections. Residents are a good source of information when a problem arises in the stormwater collection system. If you are aware of an issue, please contact us. We will send someone out to determine what needs to be done.
Stormwater Management Service Fee
Stormwater runoff from a property is dependent upon factors such as property size and percentage of impervious area.
Residential Property Service Fee
In order to determine the charge for each individual customer, a base unit of measurement was established. This base unit is called the Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). An ERU is the average size residential lot and its corresponding Runoff Coefficient ("C" factor). The ERU in North Augusta is 1/3 acre with a "C" factor of 0.35. All single-family residential utility customers are charged for 1 ERU ($5.00) per month.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is impervious surface? (roads, driveways, parking lots, roofs). Impervious surface means those improved, harder-surfaced areas that either prevent or inhibit the natural entry of water into the soil. Rooftops, buildings, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, asphalt, concrete, other paving, driveways, gravel, patios, artificial turf and storage areas are all examples of impervious surfaces. These improvements affect the natural infiltration or runoff patterns of water. If I am renting a home or leasing space for my business, do I pay or does the owner? If you normally pay the city utility bill, then, in most cases, you will be responsible for the stormwater utility fee that is included with the water bill.
Am I still charged even if it does not rain for a long time? Yes. The pollution potential is actually much greater when it has not rained in a long time because pollutants can build up on all impervious surfaces. In any storm, the initial runoff, or first flush, is the most contaminated. Contrary to what some people believe, stormwater charges are not based upon rainfall. Costs are incurred to reduce pollution. Rainwater is simply the carrier that transports the pollutants to open waterways.
Hasn't the city always had storm drains? Nothing has changed at my home or business so why am I being charged now when I wasn't several years ago? Yes, the city has had storm drains for a long time. However, the federal regulations that require a comprehensive stormwater quality management program are new. The utility fee enables the city to meet its responsibilities to manage the storm drain system more closely, study the contents of stormwater, seek out and eliminate illicit connections and illegal dumping, enforce codes more strictly, educate citizens, and construct storm drainage improvements throughout the city.
Why a fixed rate for household properties? The cost of measuring each single-family residential property would be prohibitive and would not significantly increase the equity of the rate structure. Trying to update information on new additions, patios, driveways, and storage buildings would be very cumbersome and prone to error.
I live on a hill and have no drainage problems, why should I have to pay? You may not have a drainage problem, but the runoff generated from your property is contributing to problems downstream. The approach being taken through this program recognizes that everyone contributes to runoff and pollution problems and everyone will share in the results (improved water quality, reduced flooding, etc.).
Why are churches and other tax-exempts required to pay? All properties within the city that have impervious surface must pay regardless of ownership or tax status. All impervious surfaces contribute to the pollution problem, therefore, all property owners should pay their share of the costs.
Is there a difference between a Sewer Drain and a Storm Drain? Yes. The sewer system and the storm drain system are two completely separate drainage systems. The sewer system, or sanitary wastewater system, takes all household wastewater from toilets, showers, washers and sinks etc., and routes it through the City plumbing/sewer system to the Horse Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Aiken County. Once there, the polluted water receives treatment (is cleaned) before being discharged to the Savannah River just below Horse Creek. The treated wastewater is tested repeatedly to ensure that it is safe to discharge to the river.
The storm drain system are the drains located on streets, parking lots, yards, or other areas that are there to collect stormwater when it rains. These pipes collect the rainwater and sends it to a stream, the river, a pond or ditch that takes it to the streams. The water is not treated (or cleaned) at a treatment plant. The purpose of this program is to work together to make sure that only stormwater enters these drains.
What is stormwater pollution? The storm drainage system is intended to route rainwater quickly off the streets during a heavy storm, unfortunately, the water is not cleaned before it is dumped into local streams or the Savannah River. Chemicals, trash and debris dropped or spilled on to surfaces (lawns, parking lots, roofs, improperly stored items, streets, walkways, etc.), are washed by rainwater into storm drains. The pollution from stormwater is discharged in every community in the United States. If you consider that, you should understand the importance of preventing stormwater pollution here at home. The ocean is the ultimate destination for every pollutant that rainwater washes out of every community. This is the one of the reasons for the regulations that created small community permits across the United States (small MS4 permits) to educate and prevent stormwater pollution at its source, our homes, streets and businesses.
What Are the Effects of Stormwater Pollution?
- Our Health: Stormwater pollution poses a serious health risk to people swimming, consuming fish or using the source for drinking (drinking water wells near the waterbody) in contaminated waters.
- The Environment: Countless plants and animals can become sick or die from contact with stormwater pollution and they can accumulate toxins over time (through the food web) that can alter their reproductive success or move the pollutants through the food chain at higher and higher levels, ultimately affecting many species including humans. The ocean has already been affected. Trash from the nations storm drains have become large floating islands of debris, as large as the state of Texas in several locations. Stormwater pollution and illegal dumping are the root cause of the floating debris fields in our oceans.
- Our Neighborhoods: Clogged catch basins significantly decrease the quality of life in many neighborhoods. These "nests" of trash and debris can attract rats and cockroaches, create foul odors, and clog the storm drain system. Thus affecting neighborhood aesthetics and property values, and creating the potential for local flooding during heavy rain events. Clogged drains back water up until it over tops curbs or driveways and that stormwater can wash yards and landscaping away and flood homes.
What is the City of North Augusta doing to help prevent stormwater pollution? The city has four education programs geared toward the general public, businesses, city employees, and schools (all ages). Free informational materials such as posters, videos, brochures, coloring books and other giveaway items are distributed at events sponsored by the stormwater management department to help inform the public. The city has implemented a permitting program that requires developers of new construction projects to install structural devices (BMPs) that improve water quality before it can be washed off their site to enter the storm drain system.
Why is sediment considered a pollutant? Sediments are a very serious stormwater pollutant that can wipe out a stream and its population by burying the stream. Sediments also carry spilled or historical chemicals to the stream. Sediments can create significant discolorations in the water that is enough to block sunlight, stopping natural processes killing plants and animals over time.The city checks for pollutants through our illicit discharge detection inspection program.
What can a resident do when they notice a stormwater impact? The city’s Stormwater Inspector is on hand to take calls reporting stormwater impacts between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Inspectors can be reached by calling 803 441-4240 or you may submit a problem by submitting it through our reporting page. If the inspector is busy, callers can leave information on voice mail and will receive a prompt call back. During non-business hours, calls can be made to public safety who contacts a Stormwater Inspector to respond to the report.
Stormwater personnel follow a formal protocol to ensure that spills are quickly cleaned up or contained and that hazardous materials are handled in a manner that does the least damage to the environment. The city also has a procedure for identifying and informing responsible parties to seek reimbursement for cleanup when possible and appropriate. Once the full course of action has been taken, the inspector generates a report of the incident.
Storm drains are for the sole purpose of handling rainwater overflow. Dumping trash, pollutants and debris into stormwater catch basins is illegal. If you know the person dumping, you might explain to them how their actions negatively impact the neighborhood as well as the environment and that this behavior is illegal or contact our office to handle the situation. Safe legal alternatives to disposing of waste materials are available throughout the city.
I have some paint/thinners/chemicals/ at home that need to be disposed of. Where can I take these? The city holds an annual Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Collection event in May of every year. At the event you can bring all of the these types of wastes that you would like to properly dispose of so that they don't end up in the landfill where they can be exposed to the environment. The event is a "drive-through" service where you drive up, pop the trunk and we unload it safely and expose of it in the proper way depending on what the chemical make-up is of the item. We offer the annual event for all city residents. Information on the event is advertised in local papers, the city website, in the Resource newsletter.
What if I miss the Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Event and I have paint? Please hold on to all chemical hazardous wastes until the next event. If you have paint only, Aiken County Drop off center will take paint cans that have only dry material within them. So you may put sand or kitty litter in the can to dry up the paint. Once it is dry, you may drop it off at the drop off center in Belvedere located at 537 Edgefield Road, behind the EMS and Magistrate’s Office. Do not take any other hazardous chemicals or spray cans of paint. Please hold on to these until the next event. BUT PLEASE REMEMBER, DO NOT STABILIZE OR PUT SAND IN ANY PAINT CANS YOU INTEND TO BRING TO THE CITY EVENT! We are charged by the pound and this will add a lot of weight to the paint.
What is a catch basin? A catch basin is a curbside, box-like receptacle that drains water from the street gutter to the underground storm drain pipe. They are entry points to the storm drain system. This system was designed to prevent flooding on city streets. The city either attaches markers on catch basins, or the lids are imprinted with "Drains to River".
What is the frequency in which catch basins and storm drains get cleaned out? The city's Stormwater Department, currently cleans basins by hand or jetter-vacuum equipment on an as-needed basis or if we are alerted to an issue by a homeowner. All catch basins are inspected and/or cleaned on rotating schedules and the schedule is generally prioritized annually based on historical issues and community density. The city tries to put markers on catch basins, so look for the symbol or text that says "Drains to River". The more people, yards, trees, pets and businesses, the more often the system is inspected and cleaned. Lower priority areas (outlying areas with few homes or businesses) are inspected and cleaned also, but at a lower frequency. So if you live in those areas, please make sure to alert the city immediately if you notice a problem with any drainage from your streets.
Why doesn't the city install filters or screens in front of catch basins? The city has installed several types of pollutant abatement devices on certain catch basins around the city. In some instances, these devices can become clogged with trash during a rain event, so their use is limited to areas where less debris can be expected. In high density areas, clogging can be a serious problem with filters such as these. We are devising systems (for example, the stormwater treatment wetlands at Brick Pond Park) across the city through new ordinances that require all new developments to devise stormwater treatment systems to be built to provide filtration or pollutant removal. Stormwater ponds and/or storm drains are now built (since 2005) to filter and remove pollutants prior to discharging to the City storm system. For older systems, the city is investigating ways to upgrade them to provide filtration and pollutant removal. Older businesses that upgrade can receive a monthly credit on their stormwater fees.
What kind of pollutants are found in the storm drain system? Paint thinner and paint products, motor oil, pesticides, plastics, toys, aluminum cans, car mats, car parts, yard waste such as lawn clippings, Styrofoam cups, cigarette butts, paper products, human and animal feces, antifreeze, golf balls, auto fluids, fertilizers, sediment, dirty diapers and dead animals are but a few of the pollutants found in the system.
You name it, any trash or spill in our community (large and small) can end up in the storm sewer when it rains and carried to streams, the Savannah River and the ocean. Please be sure to properly dispose of wastes in the community,
Stormwater pollution is a problem that each of us create and can help to prevent. So let's do what we can individually to protect our natural resources in our beautiful city.
If you have additional questions or suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the stormwater management fee structure, please contact:
Tom Zeaser, Director of Engineering and Public Works at 803 441-4220
Tanya Strickland, Stormwater Manager at 803 441-4246