Storm drainage $6M price tag means fees could double
by John Hales
The Times-Independent
Dec 14, 2017 | 1601 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Drainage infrastructure projects planned near 100 East and 100 South, and another near Stewart Canyon, are projected to cost the City of Moab a combined $1.8 million.                                          Photo by Greg Knight
Drainage infrastructure projects planned near 100 East and 100 South, and another near Stewart Canyon, are projected to cost the City of Moab a combined $1.8 million. Photo by Greg Knight

The City of Moab had adopted a master plan for its storm-water drainage system that calls for more than $6 million of improvements.

For residents, the practical effect of the plan — the “upshot,” as Moab City Manager David Everitt put it at a meeting of the Moab City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 12 — is a proposed doubling of a fee the city assesses to maintain the drainage system.

But while a 100-percent increase sounds like a lot when presented those terms, in reality it’s an increase of only $2 a month.

That increase, projected to raise an additional $142,000 for the storm water fund, will be badly needed as the city begins to address deficiencies in the drainage system, Everitt indicated.

“We had great examples of this last year when we did not have adequate storm-water infrastructure in place,” Everitt said, specifically identifying an area near 100 East and 100 South, and another near Stewart Canyon.

Drainage infrastructure projects planned at both those locations are projected to cost a combined $1.8 million.

At the end of the city’s fiscal year last June, according to city financial information, there was a balance of about $1.4 million in the storm water fund.

“[It] looks awesome until you go back and look at what we’re going to have to pay out,” said Everitt, for Stewart Canyon and other projects, again totaling approximately $6 million. Those projects were identified in the storm water master plan adopted by the council.

While not a first of its kind for Moab, the plan is enough of an overhaul of the original one created in 1999 that it might as well be new, said Lisa Church, the city’s communications manager.

Moab City Engineer Chuck Williams indicated much the same thing when he presented the finalized plan to the council for approval on Tuesday.

Master plans generally look forward and project over 10 to 20 years to identify upcoming needs. But Williams said Moab’s drainage system is so old and outdated that the city can toss that standard right out the window.

“One thing that’s different than some of our master plans, is this isn’t the needs for 20 years, this is pretty much the needs today,” Williams said.

Williams described the current system as “hodge-podge … put together over time.” Some components, he said, go back as far as 1903.

The master plan identifies “deficiencies” in the system — 72 of them — that need correction in order to handle 10-year flooding and runoff events in some cases, or to withstand 100-year floods in others.

“Once we understood the inventory and we understood the problems, we came up with a proposed capital improvements program that would allow us to upgrade the problem locations,” Williams said.

All told, those improvements add up to 41 different projects. The city would be responsible for 27 of them, accounting for the $6-million cost figure. The remaining several projects, totaling another $2.4 million, would fall under county or state jurisdiction but would ostensibly require the city’s financial participation.

A written-comment period is open on the storm water fund rate increase until Jan. 9, when the council expects to vote on the measure.

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