Utility fee would fund stormwater improvements

Tammy Kranz
Posted 6/14/12

The Adams County Public Works division wants to implement a utility fee for unincorporated Adams County residents to fund future stormwater …

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Utility fee would fund stormwater improvements


The Adams County Public Works division wants to implement a utility fee for unincorporated Adams County residents to fund future stormwater construction and rehabilitation projects.

Adams County stormwater coordinators Andrea Berg and Kelly Hargadin said the stormwater utility fee would apply to property owners in unincorporated Adams County west of Shumaker Mile Road, which runs through the town of Bennett. Berg said those living in Westminster or Northglenn are already charged stormwater utility fees and would not have to pay the proposed fees, which are expected to range from $5 to $6 per month for a single-family home.

Berg said it is a move that would allow the county to address several backlogged stormwater infrastructure improvements and comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Stormwater improvement projects have been traditionally funded through the county’s general fund or road and bridge fund, but she said project costs are increasing and can no longer be supported by the county alone.

“Time is now of the essence to implement the stormwater utility because Adams County faces increased federal enforcement of stormwater quality regulations,” Berg said in an email. “The county general fund has also been stretched to the limit, leaving very little money for construction of new stormwater infrastructure and maintenance of existing stormwater infrastructure.”

Hargadin said engineering studies conducted by the county and the state’s Urban Drainage and Flood Control District discovered a backlog of about $376 million in stormwater construction and remediation projects in unincorporated Adams County. The types of infrastructure projects to be funded by stormwater utility will include the construction of channel improvements, culverts, storm sewers and tributary improvements throughout the county, including five high-priority projects in Centennial, Watkins, Brighton and Thornton.

What makes these projects so expensive, Hargadin said, is the incorporation of mandatory stormwater-quality treatment measures.

Currently, Adams County is not required to monitor for nutrients such as phosphate, nitrogen and nitrates that are found in household cleaners, dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents and yard fertilizers. However, Berg said, monitoring and remediating these nutrients may be necessary for the county to get a new discharge permit when it has to apply next year. She said that could cost millions of dollars.

Stormwater-discharge permits cover industrial, construction and municipal discharges and are issued by the state’s Water Quality Control Commission on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. Failure to comply with water-quality requirements can result in the revocation of a permit or fines in excess of $10,000 to $25,000 per contaminant per day.

Eric Weis, a senior drainage engineer for the county, said these fines could be financially detrimental, especially since Adams County has experienced numerous flood events in the past, mainly along Brantner Gulch and Big Dry Creek.

He said many summer thunderstorms produce local flash flooding along roadside ditches and streets that could largely be eliminated by storm-sewer improvements.

The county is conducting six public meetings to address the stormwater utility, including three that were held on June 11 and 14. The three remaining public hearings will be 6:30-8 p.m. Monday, June 18, at the Brighton Fire Rescue District - Station 54 on 15229 Great Rock Road, and from 3:30-5 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. at Hodgkins Elementary School, 3475 West 67th Ave. in Denver.

For more information about the stormwater utility fee, visit the Adams County Stormwater Quality division’s website at www.adcogov.org/stormwater.

Residents may also contact the Adams County Stormwater Quality Division by phone at: 720-523-6400 or by email at swq@adcogov.org.


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