What is a Stormwater Utility?
No matter whether you live in an older or newer part of City of Ravenna, you may notice some flooding in your neighborhood after an extended heavy rain.
The City’s storm drain system is a separate system from the one that collects wastewater from your home. The wastewater collection system (sanitary sewer system) carries wastewater to the Water Reclamation Facility for treatment. Stormwater, on the other hand, is produced by rain or melting snow and runs into the city’s storm drains. Storm drains are usually located in the street along the curb. These empty into a collection system that eventually empties directly into area lakes and streams. This is why street drains should never be used to dispose of pet wastes, oils, paint cleaners, or other household materials.
The City of Ravenna faces the dual challenge of maintaining its aging stormwater infrastructure in the older portion of the City and overseeing an expanding drainage system in developing areas. The city has a list of many projects that would contribute to better stormwater management if they were completed. These projects, located in areas throughout the City, range from correcting smaller drainage problems to reconstructing whole sections of the storm drainage system. These projects are able to be completed using funds collected by the stormwater utility.
On October 29, 1999, the US EPA issued new stormwater regulations that require communities with populations under 100,000 to control water pollution caused by stormwater runoff. Known as the EPA Phase II Stormwater Rule, these regulations require communities to implement municipal stormwater programs that will reduce stormwater pollutant discharges to the “maximum extent practicable.”
The EPA has listed six control measures that communities must implement as part of any municipal stormwater management program. In addition to meeting the city’s current stormwater needs, Ravenna’s stormwater utility provides the City with the tools and funding necessary to meet the EPA regulation requirements.
What is a Stormwater Utility Fee?
Residential and business owners see a small charge on their monthly utility bill, with the revenues earmarked solely for stormwater purposes. Residents of City of Ravenna will pay just $3.00 per month per residential unit for the stormwater utility. Non-residential properties (including stores, industries, office buildings, schools, and churches) will be charged an amount that is calculated by measuring the area of the hard surfaces occupied and dividing this area by the 2750 square feet (average area occupied by a residence known as an ERU – Equivalent Residential Unit) and multiplying that number by the $3.00 fee rate for a residential unit. A property that has ten times more hard surface area as a residence generates ten times more stormwater than a residence so the property will pay for ten units. Each non-residential property will thereby be billed the flat fee amount for each equivalent residential unit (ERU). The minimum bill for any property will be the flat fee.
What Are Illicit Discharges and Who Should I Report Them To?
Because everything that enters the City storm sewers finds its way to our lakes and streams, nothing is allowed to be discharged to the storm sewer system except for stormwater. Anything going into the storm sewer system besides stormwater is known as an Illicit Discharge. The City storm sewer system includes storm pipes, catch basins, swales, ditches, and roadways.
Some exceptions to this rule include water line flushing or other potable water sources, landscape irrigation or lawn watering, diverted stream flows, groundwater, non-commercial washing of vehicles, swimming pools (if dechlorinated – typically less than one PPM chlorine), firefighting activities, and any other water source not containing pollutants.
Penalties for violating the City Illicit Discharge Ordinance may include disconnection from the sewer system, cleanup, fines, or imprisonment. If you suspect someone of violating this Ordinance, please contact the City of Ravenna Engineering Department at 330-296-5666.
Chestnut Hills Stormwater Demonstration Park
In 2014 the City of Ravenna received a grant from the State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act. This grant allowed for the construction of a Stormwater Demonstration Park at Ravenna’s Chestnut Hills Park. The Stormwater Demonstration Park consists of a parking lot and several stormwater best management practices that demonstrate innovative ways to handle stormwater on development projects. These stormwater best management practices include porous pavers, rock infiltration berm, rain garden, and bio-swale.
Porous Pavers and Rock Infiltration Berm
Porous Pavers consist of manufactured concrete units that reduce stormwater runoff volume, rate, and pollutants. The impervious units are designed with small openings between permeable joints. The openings are filled with highly permeable, small-sized aggregates. The joints allow stormwater to enter a crushed stone aggregate bedding layer and base that supports the pavers while providing storage and runoff treatment. Porous Pavers are highly attractive, durable, easily repaired, require low maintenance, and can withstand heavy vehicle loads. Rock Infiltration Berms provide the same stormwater storage and infiltration, but without the vehicle bearing paver surface on top.
Porous Pavers and Rock Infiltration Berms can be used for municipal stormwater management programs and private development applications. The runoff volume and rate control, plus pollutant reductions allow projects to meet regulatory water quality criteria. Porous Pavers can replace traditional impervious pavement for most pedestrian and vehicular applications except high-volume/high-speed roadways. These pavers have performed successfully in pedestrian walkways, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and low-volume roadways. In addition to providing stormwater volume and quality management, light colored pavers are cooler than conventional asphalt and help to reduce urban temperatures and improve air quality. The textured surface of the pavers also provides traffic calming and provides an aesthetic amenity.
Rain Gardens and Bio-Swales (Bioretention)
Bioretention areas, including rain gardens and bio-swales, are landscaping features adapted to provide on-site treatment of stormwater runoff. They are commonly located in parking lot islands or within small pockets of residential land uses. Surface runoff is directed into shallow, landscaped depressions. These depressions are designed to incorporate many of the pollutant removal mechanisms that operate in forested ecosystems. During storms runoff ponds above the mulch and within the soil in the system. Runoff from larger storms is generally diverted past the facility to the storm drain system. The remaining runoff filters through the mulch and prepared soil mix. The filtered runoff can be collected in a perforated underdrain and returned to the storm drain system.
Bioretention systems are generally applied to small sites and in a highly urbanized setting. Bioretention can be applied in many climatological and geologic situations, with some minor design modifications. Bioretention features can be incorporated easily into ultra-urban areas, areas with concentrated stormwater pollutants, retrofits in existing developments, and areas surrounding sensitive cold-water trout streams.