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Stormwater fee to be explored

By Billy Corriher

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners may fund a study that will help determine if, and how much, residents and businesses will have to pay for a new stormwater management system.

The board heard a presentation from the Clayton County Water Authority Tuesday morning about the need to consider a new stormwater management program that would protect the area water supply and would be funded through new utility fees.

If the management program is implemented, households will be charged a flat fee, and business fees will be determined by how much runoff they generate, CCWA Project Manager Mike Thomas said, adding that developers can pay reduced fees by taking steps to reduce the amount of runoff they produce.

The CCWA is asking the board to fund half of the study, which will cost around $148,000, so the county will have more information on how much the program will cost, how it should be structured, and how much it will cost residents and businesses.

The study will help the county determine the "most economical and most efficient" way to implement a stormwater management program, CCWA General Manager Wade Brannan said.

The program will enable the CCWA to gather information on the county's drainage systems and evaluate which ones need to be replaced, Brannan said. "It all has to do with protecting our water supply," he said.

The density of development and recent growth in Clayton County means there is more potential for pollution getting into the area's water supply. "We're one of the most dense counties in the state," Brannan said, "and because of that, we have the potential for causing more pollution."

The program will bring the county up to current state and federal standards, and Commission Chairman Crandle Bray said a management program is something the county will have to address sooner or later.

And the sooner the program is put in place, the more flexibility the county will have in updating the drainage systems, Brannan said. "The longer we put it off, the more expensive it will be."

If the CCWA has the information on the system sooner, the county will have the option of spreading out the costs of the projects, Brannan said. "We can prioritize better if we have more time."

If the board approves funding for the study at its meeting next Tuesday, it could be completed in about six months, when the commissioners would evaluate the results and determine how to proceed with the stormwater program.