Town approves stormwater utility


BROWNSTOWN — In August of 2023, the Brownstown Town Council started the process of establishing a stormwater utility to address flooding issues created by the town’s storm sewer drainage system.

To pay for improvements and maintenance to that system, the council moved forward Monday night during a meeting at town hall with the utility that will be financed with residential and non-residential user fees.

The average residential customer could begin paying a fee ranging from $13 to $23 a month as early as June 1. That fee will be added to the bill they currently pay the town for sanitary sewer, trash and recycling services.

There are 10 large nonresidential customers that will pay higher user fees.

The user fees are based upon how much hard surfaces residential and non-residential customers have on their property and how much money the town needs to maintain the system and complete priority projects. Hard services such as roofs, parking lots, patios and sidewalks prevent or limit the natural entry of stormwater into the soil.

Mary Atkins, an engineer and vice president with Wessler Engineering, said a stormwater study conducted by that firm shows there is a need for the repair/replacement of failing and deteriorating stormwater infrastructure. There also is a need for on-going maintenance of that system, which includes underground pipes, inlets, ditches, catch basins and other items. Those issues are presently addressed by the street department or contractors as needed.

There also are eight priority projects that will be addressed once the utility is up and running.

Two of those projects are located in Ewing while a third runs the length of Main Street in the downtown area. The other projects include an area along Water Street on the east side of town, Oak and Bridge streets and Poplar Cove.

The projects would address places where water often stands and fails to drain quickly after it rains, Atkins said.

“There’s definitely a lot of missing infrastructure,” she said. “There’s areas of town where there are not swales or pipes to carry a lot of that water away.”

Once the stormwater utility is established, potential funding sources will be explored and engineering and design would be conducted before the priority projects would go out for bid. That process could take a year or so to complete.

Atkins said the user fee will be decided in a phase approach tied to when the priority projects can be designed versus when they can be funded.

“… and looking for grant opportunities, forgivable loans and those types of things will ultimately help you balance out what that final user rate is going to be,” she said. “Let’s hope for some grants and forgivable loans.”

A public meeting for the first reading of a rate ordinance to fund a stormwater utility in Brownstown is set for 6 p.m. April 15 at town hall, 116 E. Cross St. A second public hearing and second reading of that ordinance is tentatively scheduled for May 6 with final adoption of an ordinance implementing the utility tentatively set for May 20. The location of the May 6 has yet to be determined.

The town plans to mail a letter to non-residential customers and mail a pamphlet prepared by Wessler to residential customers with their sanitary sewer and trash and recycling bills.

For information contact city hall at 812-358-5500.

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