City Council debates storm water

COLUMBIANA –Storm water problems that have plagued the city for decades need to be addressed–and soon, a member of council said this week.

Crystal Siembida-Boggs said she believed that if something is not done now the city will be faced with an unfunded mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency in the future.

“Storm water needs to remain on the city’s radar,” she said, adding that she would like to see a plan in place.

City Manager Lance Willard assured her it was on the radar, and indicated that solving the problem will take time.

Last year Willard said that most of the trouble areas have little to no storm water lines, while other areas have a system, but it is not working.

He also said at that time that correcting the problem would consist of installing a system in areas where one is needed and removing old lines and placing new lines in the ground where a system exists.

Councilman Ted Souder recalled that the project was last estimated to cost around $18 million, and Councilman Dick McBane said that was part of the reason nothing has been done yet.

Herbert, Rowland and Grubic Inc. provided the city with an $18.5 million estimate back in 2011.

City officials have discussed creating a storm water utility to help offset the cost, but no formal action has been taken to implement one.

“It damages roads and properties and is going to continue to be a problem,” Siembida-Boggs said. “Eventually that is going to get mandated, and we will get stuck with a huge bill.”

Souder said he felt the city was “ahead of the curve” with regards to a mandate.

McBane noted that he is currently the only member of council serving that was also serving when a storm water project was initially proposed.

He suggested that the company come back before council and revisit the plans.