Currently, the city is a patchwork of methods used to control storm water. Storm water drainage in the Kanawha City neighborhood, for example, is already largely separated from the sewer system, Elkins said.
Ultimately, the goal of the regulations and storm water management is to improve water quality of streams and rivers, which will increase the health of the waterways and create a side benefit of increased recreation.
However, simply separating storm water and sewer systems doesn't always achieve the reduced pollution goals set by the Clean Water Act and is also very costly, said Brandon Vatter, a consultant with Hatch Mott MacDonald, a firm assisting the city with its new storm water plan. Instead, other options, such as increasing the amount of green space in the city and incorporating plants into streetscapes can help absorb storm water and thus reduce pollution.
Whatever solutions are proposed don't have to be implemented immediately. Elkins said that having a plan and having a hierarchical list of projects to be completed over time will allow the city to show the EPA that it is moving forward with compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Yet, the city can only do so much to improve water quality on its own. Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, who is a member of the task force, said that she would like to see cooperation from the county and other municipalities to work on the issue together.
"We need everybody at this table," she said.
The task force will meet again before the Labor Day holiday to hear updates on the process. Information about the entire undertaking is available at www.charlestonstormwater.org.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.
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