ELYRIA — Some residents frustrated with repeatedly cleaning flooded water and sewage from their homes after heavy rains are not against a stormwater management program and the fee that comes with it.
However, at Monday’s public hearing, held before City Council unanimously voted to implement the program, residents had a message for city leaders: Fix the city’s crumbling infrastructure fast.
“You guys chose not to maintain our infrastructure in the city and because of that, I am going to have to pay upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 to stop water from coming into my basement and to fix work to my foundation,” said Pasadena Avenue resident Ann Rothel.
“I’m not against paying fees, but I expect the city to use the money properly. The fees — I’ll pay them. Just get the work done.”
Rothel said she has lived in Elyria since 2004 and in the past five years she has had to clean her basement after numerous heavy rains.
Her sentiment was echoed by neighbor Michael Flannigan, also of Pasadena Avenue, who said his basement has flooded as well.
Residential property owners will pay $4.33 per month in the first year and $5.33 per month and $6.24 per month in 2016 and 2017, respectively. A credit program is available for businesses as they will be assessed per unit of impervious surface. Credits are earned from doing such things as installing a retention pond.
Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the areas around Pasadena Avenue and the St. Jude neighborhood are high on the city’s priority list with funds from the program.
However, city Engineer Tim Ujvari urged residents to be patient. The projects will take at least five years to complete, he said.
“We have been working on this stormwater management plan for three years,” he said. “We have a plan. I think it’s a very good plan with a rather aggressive schedule that will run concurrent with work at the wastewater treatment plant.”
The program will address state and federal mandates requiring the city to build a better system to manage how much stormwater runs into the Black River and ultimately Lake Erie. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency performed audits of the city’s systems in 2010 and 2012 and found deficiencies in the amount and way sewage and stormwater are entering the river.
The timing of the meeting couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.
Toledo residents dealt with a weekend-long water emergency after city officials there warned residents that toxins had reached dangerous levels in the city’s water supply. The toxins’ presence was blamed on algae in the water, which accumulated from fertilizer and farming manure runoff. Residents couldn’t drink, cook or boil the water for fear the toxins would cause health concerns.
Siwierka said Elyria’s water supply — drawn from a deeper and colder point in the lake — was fine.