The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday March 24th

Town Talk

Chapel Hill approves stormwater management plan

After years of planning, the Chapel Hill Town Council adopted a plan that will improve stormwater drainage systems and educate the public about good water management practices.

At the close of a public hearing Monday, the Chapel Hill Town Council voted to approve the second phase of the town's Stormwater Management Master Plan.

The town contracted with Jewell Engineering Consultants, PC to develop the Stormwater Management Master Plan.

According to the plan, there are over 100 miles of streams and open channels, 63 miles of culverts and pipelines and approximately 5600 storm drain inlets within the town’s corporate limits.

“The program mission is to protect the health and safety of not only the residents but also the ecosystem addressing both stormwater quality and quantity and meeting or exceeding state and federal regulations,” said Sue Burke, a senior stormwater engineer for the town's public works department.

Mickey Jo Sorrel, a stream manager for Booker Creek and a member of the Booker Creek Watershed Alliance, said her group supports the town going ahead with the plan.

“The Booker Creek Watershed Alliance seeks to improve the health of our creek and we are excited about our Stormwater Master Plan and we are eager to partner with the town to solve the persistent erosion and flooding problems as well as control the many nutrients that are flooding out waterways,” she said.

But she said the Alliance is worried about how the town will fund the plan.

“We’re concerned that the funding be adequate to implement an action plan,” Sorrel said.

Longtime Chapel Hill resident Lynne Kane said the plan should be more flexible to account for climate change.

“While I think that the stormwater management is a good idea and this plan should be approved, I caution against looking for 100 percent improvement,” she said.

Councilman Jim Ward expressed his support and even discussed the potential for a bond to help pay for the program.

“We need a more rigorous revenue source, such as bond funding,” he said. “It makes sense for future generations to help pay for this program.”

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