Burlington, News

City to explore master planning of storm sewer

By Jason Arndt

When the City of Burlington experiences heavy rainfall, some residents have reported nuisance ponding and slow drainage into the community’s storm sewer infrastructure.

Officials look to clearly identify problems and potential solutions through a task order with Kapur and Associates, Inc. at a cost of $165,000 for storm sewer system modeling and master planning, set for consideration on July 2 by the Common Council.

Peter Riggs, director of public works, presented the proposal during a June 18 committee of the whole meeting and outlined the task order’s key objectives.

“Storm sewer master planning is a goal of the current strategic plan,” he wrote in a memorandum. “Portions of the city’s storm sewer system are again in need of repair, or do not effectively convey storm water resulting in chronic nuisance ponding and slow drainage during rainfall events.”

Riggs noted the master plan completed by Kapur and Associates would offer detailed analysis of the city’s storm sewer system and identify areas in need of improvement.

Unlike 2019, when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission facilitated a study focused on the McHenry Street corridor and businesses experiencing persistent flooding following rainfall, the latest task order will include the entire community.

“We will expand that to the entire community,” Riggs told the Common Council on June 18. “I am sure you have been contacted by constituents after rainfall events, or noticed yourself, problem areas with the storm sewer system.”

Gregory Governatori, engineer for Kapur, said the 2019 study only consisted of about 1.5 miles along McHenry Street.

But the proposed task order would substantially expand the storm sewer master planning process.

“The remaining part of the city is about 26.5 miles of storm and about 30 individual areas that need to be assessed,” Governatori said.

Riggs said the task order consists of two phases, with the first focusing on problem areas, followed by modeling for the rest of the community.

He noted the task order will also help the city better understand the municipal storm sewer infrastructure, offering a long-term vision for the Common Council and the Department of Public Works.

“These are complicated systems that require a lot of understanding in order to guide the council and the department of public works in their decisions on how to maintain that infrastructure and avoid regulatory compliance issues,” Riggs said.

Using the storm system modeling and master planning, city officials plan to present a set of recommendations to the Common Council for future capital improvements that would be included in the final report.

The final report would then be integrated into the city’s capital improvement plan.

Previously, the Common Council rejected a proposal to create a Storm Water Utility, which would have assessed property owners for the total amount of impervious surfaces, such as rooftops and parking lots.

“Identification of needed capital improvements and their associated costs was mentioned by members of the Common Council as a reason why they did not support the creation of a storm water utility,” Riggs wrote in a memorandum. “Completion of the master planning study will provide this information, thus allowing more accurate capital project expenses to be included when, and if, a storm water utility is considered in the future.”

City officials included the total cost of the task order of $165,500 in the 2024 capitol improvement program using $60,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Although the task order exceeded the expected budget, additional ARPA funds could be available because the city did not use all expenses from the funding source, according to Riggs.

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