Firm’s development of city’s stormwater plan nearing end of second phase

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 8, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — For more than a year, Charlotte-based HDR Inc. has helped the city in developing its first 10-year capital improvement plan for stormwater-related projects.

In November 2019, the city contracted with HDR to analyze and develop a strategy for the city’s stormwater needs. Public Works Director Craig Powers said the plan will help the city better utilize its resources. Using citizen input from surveys, maintenance history and flooding hot spots, the plan is being prepared in two phases, costing a total of $231,800. The goal of creating such a plan is to prioritize needs using a strategic ranking system, allow the city to budget for projects more efficiently and have all-around better stormwater infrastructure.

The first phase cost $84,600. Phase two will amount to $147,200.

Assistant Public Works Director Chris Tester said the contract is now in the second phase. By the end of June, the firm will have more concretely defined capital improvement projects and be able to provide “the deliverables” on top-ranked projects.

Among those projects, he said, are drainage improvements on Jackson Street and Eaman Park.

“These projects are so expensive and costly,” Tester said. “So there needs to be some way to prioritize that intent in moving forward.”

After that, the design phase of the selected projects would ensue. Similar to an approach taken in 2018, Tester said the city would likely release a request for quotes for on-call engineering firms.

City Manager Lane Bailey has proposed for the 2021-22 fiscal year budget an 8-cent increase to stormwater fees intended to offset inflation. The stormwater fee increase also would provide funds for stormwater projects to reduce flooding and pollution to maintain compliance with the existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Tester told the Post the new capital improvement plan will help the city better determine if the increase is feasible enough to generate the funds needed to maintain stormwater infrastructure, especially with the increased cost at the time for construction.

Tester said it’s important for locals to know, while the plan will allow the infrastructure in place to relieve some flooding issues or remove water more quickly, it cannot prevent or significantly impact the potential for flooding. The stormwater infrastructure currently used in the city is designed to carry 10-year floods, which he explained translates to a “one-in-10 chance you’ll have a flood in a year’s time.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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