Metro East counties poised to adopt stormwater planning - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Metro East counties poised to adopt stormwater planning

Nearly 80 people from three southern Illinois counties turned out for a stormwater planning workshop.

Tackling flooding problems in Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties was the topic of discussion among county, municipal, state and federal leaders at a half-day workshop on Jan.31, 2007, at the Collinsville Area Recreation District in the Metro East St. Louis region. The workshop was convened by the three county board chairmen: Alan Dunstan (Madison), Hale Haudrich (Monroe), and Mark Kern (St. Clair). The workshop was planned by the Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands under the auspices of the Campaign for Sensible Growth, as a part of the organization’s efforts to advance stormwater planning in Illinois to preserve water quality, prevent flooding and improve regional planning efforts.

The capacity attendance of 78 participants developed strategies for moving forward with county-wide stormwater management planning as authorized by new Illinois legislation (55ILCS5/5-1062.2). The legislation is based upon earlier legislation that allowed counties in northeastern Illinois to pursue countywide stormwater management planning and regulation with their municipalities. It extends similar authorization to nine additional counties in Illinois, including Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in the Metro East area, as well as six additional counties in northern Illinois. Under the new legislation, counties may establish countywide stormwater management committees composed of county and municipal representatives. Stormwater management committees are authorized to prepare stormwater management plans and to prepare an implementing ordinance that is effective in unincorporated and incorporated areas after adoption by the county. Municipalities may also be certified by the countywide committee to enforce stormwater management requirements within their own communities.

Workshop Agenda

The workshop agenda provided background information on the evolution of stormwater management legislation in Illinois, explained the basic provisions of the new legislation, and then demonstrated how other counties have approached the use of a stormwater management committee and then moved on to develop plans and implementing ordinances. Finally, county-based breakout groups discussed conditions in the individual counties and identified steps for moving ahead.

Stormwater Management Background

Laying the groundwork were Mike Fruth, director of the Metro East Stormwater Agency, Lenore Beyer-Clow, director of policy for Openlands, an open space preservation and conservation organization in northeastern Illinois, and Scott Goldstein, vice president of policy and planning at the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), which promotes sensible growth and development policies in northeastern Illinois. Both MPC and Openlands worked intensively with Metro East leaders and county governments and legislators to create the new stormwater management legislation, recognizing its importance in rapidly growing counties throughout the state.

Getting Organized

Kay Whitlock, vice president of Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., has worked with many of the counties and municipalities that have already been through the process of creating stormwater management committees, developing stormwater management plans and implementing ordinances. She emphasized the value of a cooperative county-municipal approach and the flexibility provided in the legislation for developing a committee and a planning process suited to individual county needs. The history of stormwater management in DuPage, Lake, Kane, Will, and more recently with start-up efforts in Kankakee, Grundy and other counties has provided many lessons and examples regarding different approaches.

Developing a Stormwater Management Plan and Ordinance

Mike Warner, executive director of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, explained the basic steps for developing a stormwater management plan and the range of possible elements of such a plan. In addition, he illustrated how Lake County developed its stormwater ordinance, how it administers the ordinance, and how the Commission has, over time, developed a comprehensive program that includes watershed planning, ecological restoration, promotion of Best Management Practices, and outreach and education programs for many audiences, including drainage districts and homeowner associations. Lake County has used multiple funding sources to support these efforts. The Lake County stormwater management program started with a staff of three individuals and has incrementally grown to employ twenty employees involved in all aspects of stormwater management.

Breakout Sessions: Moving Forward in Madison, Monroe and St. Clair Counties

Following the presentations, questions and discussion, a breakout discussion group was created for each county. The breakout leaders and participants described the current status of stormwater management in the county, the level of interest in pursuing cooperative county – municipal stormater management under the new legislation, the resources available and needs for undertaking such an effort, and strategic next steps for moving forward to organize a planning committee.

A. Madison County:

The Madison County Chairman is working to identify county board members for stormwater committee membership. The Council of Mayors is viewed as the appropriate body for the selection of municipal representatives to a stormwater committee. A strong representation by mayors is important. A county board resolution for creating the stormwater committee is in the process of being developed. Work continues on compliance with Phase II NPDES requirements.

In addition, a technical advisory committee with broad expertise is being formed. To that end, an inventory of entities and people concerned about water resources, drainage and flooding is being developed via contacts with mayors in the county.

Among the concerns identified related to stormwater management were inadequate enforcement of existing ordinances (e.g. soil erosion and sediment control), the need to include older developed town and neighborhoods in the stormwater management planning process, the equitable use of available funds across watersheds, the current availability of financial resources to establish the stormwater committee and begin working on a stormwater plan, and the need for public support for stormwater management based upon expectations that it can actually help solve the problem.

Next Steps for Madison County:

  1. Pass a county resolution to establish a stormwater management committee and appoint members to the committee based up on defined boundaries.
  1. Develop recommendations for a technical advisory committee with assistance of county staff.
  1. Work with the stormwater committee and the county board to allocate start-up funding for the stormwater planning process. County board members will need good information as to the benefits of this approach.
  1. Develop a newsletter or other information piece that will describe the stormwater issues and support the start-up of a stormwater management planning process.

B. St. Clair County:

The breakout participants identified a process intended to lead to the creation of a stormwater management committee, provide broad education and outreach which will support the allocation of funds to the planning process, identify existing and needed information regarding water and other resources, and arrange for staff support of the committee and the planning effort.

Next Steps for St. Clair County:

  1. Provide education and outreach to municipal leaders, township officials and to the general public regarding the need and the potentials for creating a stormwater management committee and a plan.
  1. Pass a county board resolution to establish a county – municipal stormwater management committee and define the structure of the committee.
  1. Educate the public about funding stormwater programs and the distribution of benefits across the county.
  1. Collect a resource and knowledge base that will support the work of the committee and the development of the plan.
  1. Identify the funding and other resources for staff support of the process.
  1. Create an advisory committee and use it to get the process moving.
  1. Use current municipal support to bring in other agencies, organizations and interested citizens to work on the planning effort.

C. Monroe County:

The breakout group revisited the history of stormwater concerns starting with the flood of 1993, the creation and expansion of a Metro East stormwater group, and eventual loss of momentum. Monroe County established a stormwater control plan prior to the new legislation that applies to projects in its jurisdiction exceeding 5000 sq. ft. in area.

The group recognized that Monroe County does not have county board districts and for this and other reasons the county needs to tailor the planning approach to its particular structure and needs. The group quickly agreed that a stormwater planning committee should be established and there was considerable discussion about how to move in that direction while involving all interested parties, such as builders and trade groups, and achieving a proper balance of representation from incorporated and unincorporated areas. The group felt that it was critical that the municipality of Waterloo be involved and fully integrated into the stormwater committee and the planning process.

The group also identified and briefly discussed the various available avenues for developing financial support for the stormwater process, including real estate tax, fees, permits, create a utility and a head tax.

Next Steps for Monroe County:

1. Request, at the next meeting of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, that a small ad hoc committee be established to work on broadening the constituency for stormwater management planning and advising on the membership of a stormwater committee.

2. Assure that all municipalities are informed of the initiative and effectively encouraged to participate, especially the municipality of Waterloo.

3. Identify and develop information and outreach information to county board members, municipalities, other units of government and key organizations regarding existing and potential problems resulting from past and future potential development. Such information should indicate the benefits of the new legislation as a basis for a county-wide approach to stormwater problem-solving.

4. Pass a county resolution for the creation of a stormwater management committee and appoint members to that committee. Consider Earth Day as an opportunity to launch the stormwater management committee.

5. Identify potential funding and other support mechanisms for the work of the stormwater committee and the development of a stormwater plan.

Workshop Planning and Support

The planning of the workshop was guided by a local steering committee consisting of Mike Fruth of the Metro East Stormwater Committee (Madison County); Pam Hogan, executive assistant of the St. Clair County Board Office; Mark Kurtz, county coordinator and director of economic development for Monroe County; and Ed Weilbacher, coordinator, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Southwestern Illinois Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.

In addition, Scott Goldstein of Metropolitan Planning Council, Lenore Beyer-Clow of Openlands and consulting planner for both organizations, Richard Mariner, coordinated workshop planning.

The workshop was funded by the McKnight Foundation and Lumpkin Family Foundation.


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