News Flash

Monthly City Manager Column

Posted on: February 22, 2021

Message from City Manager Patrick Bryant - February 2021

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There’s a storm brewing… and Avondale needs to be ready for it. 

Every year, Avondale adds pressure to our overburdened stormwater system with more pavement and less pervious surface. Our infrastructure is simply insufficient -- the inlets and pipes are just getting old, worn out, and not working like they are supposed to. Here is the history of our stormwater system and the steps we will take to fix it.

The City has not always been responsible for its stormwater system. In 2004, DeKalb County withdrew from an agreement to provide stormwater services for its cities, leaving us to repair and manage aging infrastructure. The time is now for us to develop a proactive, comprehensive stormwater management program to meet our regulatory requirements, address flooding issues, and maintain and repair our aging storm sewer system. 

B&C Study

Our first step was to hire Brown and Caldwell to assess the condition of existing stormwater infrastructure and prioritize repairs throughout the City. The engineers were charged with identifying key issues, proposing solutions for our top five problems, and helping to guide our short-term and long-term investments. A video discussion about the plan, presentation, and low resolution version of the plan are currently available at www.AvondaleEstates.org/StormwaterMP

There are some big takeaways from this effort. The cause of flooding ranges from insufficient infrastructure to overburdening the system, to disrepair. Fixing our stormwater system will require a multi-pronged approach: a) repairing or replacing existing infrastructure b) adding new or increasing the size of facilities, and c) green infrastructure to manage water onsite.

Repairing and Replacing Infrastructure

Repairing or replacing existing infrastructure is the first step. This report provides us with a road map for the next several years. 

Adding New Infrastructure

Adding new infrastructure is very difficult, if not impossible in some locations. The costs, impact on the community aesthetics, lack of space, and overall disruption makes new infrastructure a less desirable solution. Also, when you make pipes bigger or carry more water away from one area, you will likely impact your neighboring communities. This is not the solution we are looking for, but new infrastructure may still be the right course of action in some situations. 

Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure is a natural way of managing stormwater using vegetative practices that fits with the DNA of this community. Many Avondale residents have a green thumb and all of us enjoy the community because of its parks, tree-lined verges, and rolling front lawns. Green infrastructure is not the panacea to all problems, but it can help if done strategically and frequently. 

It will not be cheap or fast to fix our storm water system, but green infrastructure can help limit costs. The $130,000 collected annually for the stormwater fees plus reserve funds are anticipated to cover the estimated cost for urgent and emergency repairs. Beyond that, we will need to identify other sources of funds or increase fees.

5 Simple Steps

We will need to work together to manage our stormwater. There are some things that you can do now that will help your property, as well as your neighbors. 

  1. Clean up litter, leaves, and yard waste from around drains. 
  2. Use less fertilizer or use biodegradable fertilizers that do not contain harmful chemicals.
  3. Allow plants and trees to grow in their natural and original habitats.
  4. Do not dispose of toxic products such as paint, motor oil, or cleaners by pouring them into drains.
  5. Capture stormwater through rain barrels and other methods.

Community “Green” Leaders

In the coming months, we will also create a new committee charged with serving as ambassadors for green infrastructure solutions and leading through example. For those master gardens, landscape architects, garden club members, and green thumb enthusiast, I invite you to join in our efforts. 

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