Memo for fiscal year 2021, updated 2020-02-27

[Archived] Question # 37: Explain the proposed capital investments.


How do the proposed capital investments align with the requirements of the City’s MS4 permit? What reduction targets (nutrient, sediment, etc.) will successful completion of these projects allow the City to achieve? What overall system capacity improvements are proposed? What additional investments or acceleration would be feasible if further stormwater utility funding were made available during the 10-year CIP? (Mayor Wilson)


Alignment of Proposed Capital Investments with City’s MS4 Permit

Proposed capital investments align with planning of the three phases of 5-year MS4 permit requirements to achieve Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction targets.  Approximately 50% of the entire proposed Stormwater CIP is programmed for water quality improvement purposes and meeting these targets.  Each phase is associated with a 5-year MS4 permit reduction targets of 5%, 40%, and 100%, respectively.  The City is currently in the second permit cycle (2018 – 2023) requiring the City to meet 40% of the total target. With the recent completion of the Lake Cook Retrofit, the City has now achieved 55% of its target and is thus ahead of the regulatory goal.  

 Regional pond retrofit projects are effective pollution reduction projects with high return on investment, because the facilities treat hundreds of acres of runoff.  The City’s strategy to meet its MS4 permit goals now also includes urban stream restorations that are also cost-effective ways to remove pollutants.  The City has several stream restoration projects planned (discussed below) that should drive down the overall cost of Bay pollution reduction compliance. 

Targets Reached by Completing Planned Projects

With the completion of Ben Brenman Pond Retrofit scheduled for spring 2020, the City will be at approximately 70% reduction needed for the current total phosphorus reduction target.  Through the implementation of the planned urban stream restorations, including Lucky Run, Strawberry Run and Taylor Run, the City will be on track to achieve approximately 90-95% of the total target.

The most recent Watershed Implementation Plan Phase III (WIP III) that outlines Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup targets discusses local area pollution reduction goals for localities that are not currently required in localities’ MS4 permits.  The WIP III and discussions with regulatory agencies indicate the potential for these new local area pollution reduction goals to be added to the City’s current MS4 permit pollution reductions.  If this were to occur, the City would need to achieve pollution reductions beyond the known mandated levels.

System Capacity Improvements and Potential Accelerations

These are large, complex, multi-year, multimillion-dollar CIP projects.  Funding for design and construction is currently proposed in the Storm Sewer Capacity CIP project. Due to the complexity of analysis, design, and construction, staff believe that a slight acceleration in funding may accelerate implementation.  Moving funding forward in the CIP will provide for accelerated service delivery; however, staff do not believe additional funding beyond current proposed levels will accelerate service delivery. 

Based on previous work, we have prioritized problem areas.  More data and work on feasibility is required in the near term and is included in the CIP.  Following that work, staff anticipate one or two large projects that will take about a year to design and take 1 – 2 years to construct that will cause a lot of disruption in the right-of-way.  Currently staff have proposed funding in FY 2025 and again in FY 2028 for these large projects.  It is possible that the FY 2025 funding could be moved up to FY 2023 to allow for starting the construction invitation to bid (ITB) process, with work taking place second half of FY 2023 or in FY 2024. Subsequently, funding currently proposed in FY 2028 could be moved up to FY 2026.  This would be contingent on keeping the proposed civil engineer III FTE for stormwater management that is currently in the Manager’s proposed budget.  While the overall 10-Year CIP would not be impacted, the stormwater utility rate would need to be adjusted in the 10-Year Plan coincident with the changes in funding for those fiscal years.

Although changes to the scheduling of projects could allow for some acceleration, this is not the recommendation of staff at this time. In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the City Manager recommended deferring the FY 2021 Stormwater Utility rate increase. An increase in the Stormwater Utility rate may be examined as part of the FY 2022 budget development process; and evaluated relative to the City’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Reexamining the rate may also impact the use and timing of borrowing to support major Stormwater Management projects.

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