Study for Flood Management and Water Quality Funding

Stormwater utility study logoWith our community’s growing population, stormwater drainage and flooding are becoming increasingly important issues. The City currently has no dedicated funding source to address its backlog of drainage needs or to meet regulatory mandates

The bond election approved by voters in April, 2019, included funding for implementation of the City’s Drainage Improvement Plan, developed after the major flooding event of 2017. The drainage projects outlined in this plan have been identified as top priorities to kickstart improvement of the city’s stormwater management. However, once these projects are completed, an ongoing and sustainable effort will be required to maintain a quality stormwater management system over time. 

In order to avoid future drainage issues as our community grows, the City recognizes that there is an immediate need to find sustainable funding options for stormwater management. We also recognize that these options must be guided by some of the City’s key principles, such as ecosystem preservation, well-maintained infrastructure and facilities, and a financially sustainable City government. 

In 2018 the City embarked on a Flood Management and Water Quality Funding study to assess what services are currently provided in our stormwater management system, and compare those efforts with a more proactive approach to reduce flooding and pollutants that impact water quality. 

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study was to present options for sustainable funding for stormwater management, to reduce flooding, and protect water quality. As part of the study the consultant will:

  • Review the City’s existing stormwater system and program
  • Collect input from the City Council, staff, and citizen stakeholders regarding the current state, and the necessary/desired future state of stormwater programs in the City
  • Develop options for funding, based on the current and desired future states of the program, and present those options to the City Council for consideration

What Were the Study’s Findings?

Proposed Stormwater Utility Fee rate scheduleIn general the study finds that the most equitable way to fund the stormwater needs into the future is with a fee for service based on the customer’s impact to the system. The amount of Impervious area on a customer’s property was selected as the basis for the fee, as it is directly related to the customer’s impact to the system.  Impervious area causes an increase in the amount of water entering the drainage system, and runoff from impervious area also carries pollutants that can impact water quality.  

Given the feedback from stakeholders, residents, and the council committee, the study recommended a service level that includes a 20-year capital program schedule and routine maintenance.  This maintenance would include cleaning/inspecting approximately 20% of the overall drainage system annually (approximately 400,000 LF), replacing 2.5% of the drainage system annually (approximately 8,500 LF), performing maintenance on residential detention basins (approximately 110 total) and providing for approximately $1.1 million annually for capital projects.

What is the Current Status?

At the November 5, 2019, City Council meeting, City staff recommended acceptance of the study results, along with an amendment to the  contract  with the study providers to further refine the recommendations for the extent and level of service with associated rates and other services, most notably including: 

  • Stakeholder engagement and education: through workshops, public meetings, etc. in order to further educate the public and targeted stakeholders of the need for a sustainable stormwater program.
  • Stormwater program extent and level of service definition and rate analysis. This will include a review of an alternate rate structure using percentage of impervious area to lot size rather than an absolute rate based on public feedback.
  • Sustainable Credit System: define the credit system and how it will apply to the various tiers shown in the current proposal
  • Fee-in-lieu-of Program Assessment: assessment of the potential for a fee-in-lieu-of improvement in instances where the project site may be limited and there is potential for the City or other parties to make regional improvements.

These additional tasks could take up to one year, at which point an ordinance to establish the utility could be presented to the Council.  An additional period would then be required to finalize the billing database and begin collecting the fee from users.

Chart showing projected life cycle of the project moving forward

Public Engagement Events

Public outreach events were held: September 20, 2018 (Ozark Natural Foods); September 22, 2018 (Fayetteville Farmers’ Market); January 9, 2019 (Fayetteville Public Library); January 10, 2019 (Arkansas Research & Technology Park); and January 17, 2019 (Boys & Girls Club). 

The City conducted two surveys to help staff determine the scope of work desired and to set priorities.  

Click here to view the results of the first survey. (pdf)      
Click here to view the results of the second survey. (pdf)

Additional Information

Related Documents