SALISBURY — Salisbury residents could soon see an increase on their water and sewer bills as the city attempts to identify a funding stream for its growing list of stormwater management projects.
Salisbury Mayor James Ireton, Jr. said this week during his monthly roundtable meeting with community leaders the city is preparing to undertake several stormwater management projects to decrease the amount of pollution in the form of runoff from getting into the rivers, creeks and streams that ultimately feed into the Chesapeake Bay.
State mandates for reducing the volume of pollutants running off impervious surfaces in Salisbury has forced town officials to tackle several proposed stormwater management issues and city leaders could be asking the residents to help foot the bill.
“It’s something I’ve said for a while we need to start working on,” said Ireton. “If we aren’t progressive and get some of these things done on our own, the state is going to come in here and tell us to do it.”
Salisbury officials are embarking on a wide variety of projects aimed at reducing the level of pollution the city contributes to the rivers, streams and ponds that reach the Chesapeake from improvements to the town’s aging stormwater infrastructure to reducing impervious surface to sweeping its streets.
“We’re moving along slowly in the process and we’re trying to work with the non-profits to do as much as we can without going to high-paid consultants,” said Ireton. “We’re trying to find out what projects we can do now and what we’ll need to do in the future. There’s a cost associated with this and it could end up being a new fee on the resident’s water and sewer bills.”
City Engineer Weston Young said the fee could come in the form of a nominal flat rate for residential property owners. Commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners would pay an extrapolated rate based on their amount of impervious surface.
For example, a typical single-family property might have 2,000 square feet of surface, while a commercial or industrial property would have 20,000 square feet. In Young’s example, the commercial or industrial property would pay 10 times the amount the residential property owner would have to pay.
“With the infrastructure we have now, and the condition it’s in, we going to have to start getting proactive with this list of projects,” he said. “We’re going to need a dedicated funding stream to help pay for it.”