April 1, 2024 at 7:50 a.m.

Town Talk: A River Runs Under

By JASON ECKART | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

With the spring rains beginning already this year, I wanted to write about something that not many of us ever really think about. Have you ever wondered what happens to the excess rainwater along the edge of a street or next to a street or sidewalk flowing into a large steel grate? It is called stormwater!

The definition of stormwater is water that originates from precipitation, such as snow or rain. Stormwater can soak into the soil and become groundwater, be stored on depressed land surfaces in ponds and puddles, evaporate back into the atmosphere or contribute to surface runoff. Most runoff is conveyed directly as surface water to nearby streams, rivers or creeks without treatment.

A stormwater system is designed to manage surface runoff from rainfall. It typically includes various components that work together to collect and release water back into the environment. This is done through a system of grates and piping underground and released at a known strategic point. This system in our community uses several different types of pipe, clay, steel and plastic, and requires constant supervision.

Stormwater utility fees are crucial for our small town. They are used as a dedicated funding source for stormwater infrastructure investments. These fees also help support the maintenance (including pipes, connectors, etc.) and improvement of aging stormwater systems. In essence stormwater fees are a practical approach to ensure that our small town can maintain and improve our stormwater system, which is vital to this community’s overall health and sustainability.

The fund equates to around $50k annually and directly helps to repair and replace problem areas in town. Just recently our utility department noted a sink hole forming on Washington Street. The sinkhole was caused by a failed clay pipe. The section of clay pipe was removed and replaced with a corrugated plastic pipe. The utility department is continually doing improvement projects and maintenance on our system. In the last two years I can think of several upgrades and repairs that they have accomplished. If you happen to see them out and about, please give them a “thumbs up” or a wave of appreciation.

While you may not see a direct change on your property, please know that your fees are being used throughout the entire town to improve and repair the existing system. While this system can’t do much for the occasional flash floods, it serves its purpose very well and, with improvements and repairs, it will only continue to get better over time.