City Taps Stormwater Team

Committee Will Help Aid Meeting New State Regs

Posted: January 16, 2014

Drainage pipes lead into Blacks Run in downtown Harrisonburg. City Council has named an advisory panel to help make recommendations on how best to deal with new state-mandated stormwater regulations. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — Clarke County resident Jeff Kelble is highly complimentary of Harrisonburg’s proactive work to address new state-mandated stormwater regulations.

It’s labor he’s now partly responsible for seeing through to the finish.

Kelble, head of the advocacy group Shenandoah Riverkeeper, was one of eight people City Council named to Harrisonburg’s new stormwater advisory committee Tuesday night. The panel will make recommendations and help guide the city through millions of dollars in improvements to reduce nutrient runoff.

Kelble said Harrisonburg is forward thinking for setting up the committee, instead of reacting to mandates.

“I’m glad they are doing things now and not in five years,” he said. “The longer we wait, the more our stormwater work will likely cost.”

Other committee members include Dale Chestnut, stormwater coordinator for James Madison University; Eldon Kurtz, director of Eastern Mennonite University’s physical plant; and Daniel Michael, founder of Valley Engineering.

Mayor Ted Byrd is the council’s representative to the panel.

The city is working with a consultant on a plan to meet nutrient runoff requirements mandated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Like all localities, Harrisonburg must meet certain benchmarks toward reducing sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen from stormwater discharges off developed lands over the next 15 years.

The requirements call for public involvement, outreach, construction stormwater controls, post-construction maintenance and more.

Early estimates show that capital costs to retrofit projects for runoff improvements could reach $4 million to $6 million per year, city officials have said. Funding options could include developing a stormwater fund through increasing the real estate tax or imposing a user fee similar to the one for trash pickup.

Byrd said the committee will function much like the advisory committee for Heritage Oaks, the city’s municipal golf course. That panel offered cost-cutting ideas and ways to boost revenues for the municipal course in 2011.

“We’ll see where we can get the biggest bang for our buck,” he said.

The panel will meet once a month beginning in February.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or

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