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Carrboro residents share concerns about stormwater utility inspections

Storm drains pictured on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022.

Stormwater infrastructure inspections and maintenance work took place last week and are continuing this week in Carrboro.

The infrastructure is designed to carry runoff away from streets, parking lots and buildings, while inspections of it are to determine the condition of the pipes as well as clean them, if necessary. 

As initiated by Stormwater Utility within the Town of Carrboro Public Works Department, equipment will help to determine the amount of debris and sediment buildup, as well as necessary actions to take to address that. 

According to an email from Randy Dodd, stormwater utility manager, inspection and cleanings will be conducted on infrastructure at Town facilities and several streets using a closed circuit television camera and Jet Vac cleaning equipment. 

“Part of the responsibility of our Stormwater Utility is to find those places that require some kind of larger investments and plan for those investments over time,” Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said. 

A fairly recent addition to Carrboro’s Stormwater Division, the Stormwater Utility was established in 2017 and is funded by property owners' fees based on the amount of impermeable surfaces on their property. It is responsible for better addressing drainage, flooding, infrastructure concerns and resilience for changes due to climate change.

However, Barbara Higgins, developer and manager of The Clay Centre questioned whether or not Carrboro is addressing the stormwater issue adequately. 

“The stormwater system is problematic,” Higgins said. “...I hope they're gonna use those funds for upgrading the infrastructure because the infrastructure in Carrboro is pretty old.”

According to Higgins, the Clay Centre experienced flooding due to a blocked easement to a railroad near the building. The issue has since been fixed, but she said she still thinks Carrboro needs to pay more attention to the stormwater problem in the Town. 

Other residents in neighborhoods, such as Barred Owl Creek, are left without a homeowners association and depend on advocacy and volunteer efforts to improve stormwater maintenance, Diana Newton, a Barred Owl Creek neighborhood advocate, said. 

Barred Owl Creek faces major flooding issues during storms, and despite neighbors expressing concern to the Town, Newton said the Town has not been very responsive, according to Newton.

“They are very willing to talk and walk, but they don't walk their talk,” Newton said.

Newton explained she and fellow neighbors have approached Stormwater Utility, attended Town meetings and made several Federal Emergency Management Agency proposals for funding of stormwater problems on behalf of homeowners, to no avail. 

FEMA is an organization that coordinates with the federal government to prepare for and respond to disasters, according to its website.

Newton noted that, while she believes the overall intention of the inspections is an improvement, there are homeowners that have never received notice of their responsibility to pay for the inspections, such as the Quarterpath Trace Homeowners Association. 

Newton said she also believes the program could do more around the Town.

“I think change in the future would depend on Carrboro making a commitment to undertake a large-scale assessment to look at a systemic solution to the stormwater problems that are only worsening with climate change,” Newton said.

Stormwater Utility is determined to pursue and expand its inspections over time by keeping it free of obstructions — an important component of the stormwater program, according to Dodd.

For more information on stormwater management in Carrboro visit this website. To request stormwater services please file a request form to the Stormwater Department here.


@DTHCityState | 

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