Newport News wants to upgrade its stormwater drainage systems, but that means residents will pay more

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Newport News Stormwater Dept. workers Abdul Lindsey and Corey Sweetenburg feed a hose down a storm drain on Corbin Drive preparing to blast high pressure water through it in order to clear out debris.

Newport News residents may have to pay more in stormwater fees.

City Manager Cindy Rohlf’s proposed budget would increase the stormwater management fee by about 40 cents per month, or $4.80 per year for residents.

“This is really driven by the need to address projects about drainage and stormwater,” said Lisa Cipriano, the city’s budget director. “A lot of it is mandated by federal and state guidelines.”

The fee increase was included in last year’s budget proposal, but the city decided not to go through with it, Rohlf said. The fee has remained level for two years. She didn’t think the fee increase could be delayed any longer though because of the work that has to be done to improve the city’s drainage system.

“I can tell you probably the things we hear the most in our office are about flooding, stormwater or a drain that’s clogged,” Rohlf said.

Last year, Public Works received more than 1,000 calls for maintenance, repairs or replacement of the drainage system and the engineering department received about 150 calls for drainage issues, according to a document provided by city spokeswoman Kim Lee.Advertisement

The fee is a dedicated revenue, which means it can only go toward stormwater management-related expenses. Newport News has about 40 projects in various stages of design or construction and another 15 projects slated to begin within the next five years. The city wants to develop a stormwater management master plan, a floodplain management plan and a climate change and resilience master plan to identify projects and develop a framework for the next 10 to 15 years.

The city’s drainage network includes about 3,000 structures, 200 miles of storm sewer, 60 miles of major ditches, more than 60 stormwater management facilities, 50 miles of roadside ditches and 53 miles of back and side lot ditches.

One of the projects would include making improvements to the drainage system on Warwick Boulevard from Raleigh Road to the Government Ditch. The main system is in “poor condition (and) was built under outdated design standards,” the document says. About 50 businesses along the roadway would benefit from the new system.

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