>> Stormwater Utility
Stormwater management has become an increasingly important responsibility for local governments. Like other counties, Rockdale has traditionally managed stormwater runoff by collecting it through storm sewer systems, holding it in detention ponds and releasing it into our creeks and rivers. Now, Rockdale faces newly mandated, but unfunded, federal and state regulations that require a new approach to stormwater management. These new mandates require communities to manage stormwater in ways that not only minimize flooding, but also protect and enhance water quality.
Every time it rains, the community's water resources are threatened by stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is the portion of rainwater that is unable to soak into the ground. Stormwater can pick up debris, litter, trash, dirt, leaves, grass clippings, sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, grease, chemicals, pet waste, and other contaminants as it runs off of developed land. This polluted runoff is considered "non-point source pollution" because the pollution comes from many different sources as opposed to "point source pollution" that would result from a spill at a factory or sewage treatment plant. Stormwater runoff eventually flows into storm sewer systems and releases into nearby lakes, rivers, creeks, streams or wetlands. Anything that enters a storm sewer system or drainage ditch, is released untreated into bodies of water used for swimming, fishing and drinking.
Urbanization is considered the removal of natural vegetation, construction of impervious surfaces (anything that does not allow rain water to soak, or absorb, into the ground) and land development. Urban growth increases the need for effective stormwater management because land development alters the natural landscape and flow of surface water, which increases the amount and speed of stormwater runoff. All impervious surfaces increase stormwater runoff. Flooding, erosion, and the discharge of pollutants occurs more often and is made more severe by urbanization.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) regulates the discharge of pollutants in stormwater through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and the requirements of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. Communities that fail to comply with stormwater requirements could face significant monetary penalties as well as an inability to obtain necessary permits to operate their water and wastewater systems.
The Rockdale County Stormwater Utility (RCSWU) has been formulated to manage and regulate stormwater management issues within the unincorporated areas of the County. The RCSWU will be focused exclusively on the implementation of the County stormwater management program and all revenues from the stormwater utility will be dedicated solely to addressing stormwater and drainage issues. The RCSWU stormwater management program includes the following:
- Achieve Compliance with Applicable Local, State, and Federal Regulations
- Public Education & Outreach
- Public Participation & Involvement with Reducing or Preventing Stormwater Pollution
- Detecting & Eliminating Illicit Discharges and Illegal Connections to the County’s Stormwater Drainage System
- Reducing Pollutants in Stormwater Runoff from Construction Activities
- Regulating Stormwater Runoff from New Development or Redevelopment
- Reducing and Preventing Stormwater Pollution from County Operations and Facilities
- Routine Inspections of Stormwater Drainage System
- Drainage System Cleaning / Repair / Replacement
- Service Request Investigations / Resolutions
- Implementation of Capital Improvement Projects
- Capital Construction
- Drainage System Water Quality Improvements
- Stormwater Master Planning
- Floodplain Mapping
- Expanded Development Regulations
- Ordinance Implementation
- Land Development Plan Reviews and Site Inspections
- Increase Funding Via State & Federal Grants, Revenue Bonds and Service Fees
To implement the stormwater management program, the RCSWU will undertake various activities including the cleaning of ditches and other stormwater conveyance systems; replace aging and failing culverts and drainage structures; and construct new culvert systems to increase conveyance capacity. In addition, the RCSWU will formulate and implement an ongoing regulatory compliance strategy as well as increase development regulation activities. The County aniticpates implementing an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) program that is focused on being more proactive through routine and scheduled maintenance. In order to successfully implement this enhanced level of service, a stormwater user fee charge has been calculated for each customer receiving stormwater services from the RCSWU and will encompass all residences, businesses, institutions and government facilities.