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Stormwater update from the city of Roanoke

By: Christopher Blakeman – City of Roanoke, Environmental Administrator – Blakeman manages the city’s Office of Environmental Management and is responsible for ensuring the city’s compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations. or (540) 853-2425.

A considerable amount of news media coverage and discussion has recently been generated as a result of the presentation made to Roanoke City Council on Jan. 22nd by myself and staff from our Engineering Division, and Planning Department. I’ve been asked by your association’s Executive Director, Wendy Jones, to provide a summary and clarification of some of the key issues.

Stormwater Review & Update
Everyone who lives or does business in the City of Roanoke benefits from our storm sewer system. In most cases, when we get a good rain, it doesn’t flood our streets where it would impede traffic and hinder emergency services, and our sidewalks and parking lots are generally free from standing water that may create a hazard, or nuisance. So we all benefit, and for those conveniences we can be thankful for our storm sewer system.

Urbanized areas need such a system to channel stormwater away due to their high concentration of hard surfaces like rooftops and streets, but those same areas also have higher concentrations of people. Human living generates pollution such as garbage, oil/grease, heavy metals, sediment and more.

These pollutants are harmful to our waterways, to the point where prior, current, and likely future, generations of citizens ask that it be stopped, or at least minimized. But how? This issue crosses vast areas, and if an upstream community does nothing to curb the pollution, it stands to limit the beneficial efforts by a downstream community. This is a case where a grand fix is called for. In the US, our government answered this call with the 1972 Clean Water Act, and some of the regulations of that Act are just now getting down to us at the community level.

Watershed Assessment = Doctors Visit
To determine a fix for all of this pollution, we need an understanding of the scope of the problem. Here, a variety of experts have closely examined our water ways and the pollution sources to see what’s wrong and where, much like going to the doctor if you’re not feeling well, or for a regular check-up. ……

Click here for the entire Spring 2013 Newsletter

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