New fee for storm water management issues

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- The Grand Valley Drainage District said a new fee is necessary address storm water management issues.

“If and when you get this bill, take a good hard look hard look at it, ask a lot of questions,” said Diane Schwenke, the President of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce.

A man hole to us, a bit of a nuisance, but something many have come to expect on our roads.

"There are 1 billion gallons of water a day diverted during irrigation season out of the Colorado River, it’s our charge to get most of that water back to the Colorado River," said Tim Ryan, the General Manager of the Grand Valley Drainage District.

Gallon after gallon, water flows under our feet, cars and homes and this flowing water has become a problem. Especially since the Grand Valley has expanded leading more water through our impermeable roads -- like asphalt. A new fee hopes to fix this problem by changing the way storm water is diverted back to the Colorado River.

"It's hard for people to visualize $36 for every 2,500 square-feet of quote ‘impermeable surface’.” Schwenke explained, “So it’s not just your square-footage of your building, but it’s also your paved parking lot, you’re driveways, those sorts of things. That’s where we run into some really big concerns in regard to how this is going to impact businesses."

Working towards EPA standards, the Grand Valley Drainage District is sending out bills to business and residents that will offset the cost of this multi-million dollar project, but it's a concern for some local businesses.

"We cannot say that is won’t affect their bottom line because that would be an inaccuracy," Ryan said.

While some are upset about the new fee, others like Haliburton have already set up an account to pay.

“Haliburton has the single highest bill, of over $14,000,” Ryan added. "Understanding it’s their responsibility to the community to help with the environment, here where the EPA has said storm water is a pollutant."

Currently, a Mill Levey tax is already given to the Drainage District for another project which is why the community questions, how many added fees before it's just too much?

“Which is why, we feel like there should be a lot more discussion about this. Again, it’s only looking at a segment of the valley,” Schwenke said. “This is a valley wide problem. It requires a valley wide solution.”

The fees should not be news to businesses in the valley as the Grand Valley Drainage District says they sent notices to companies giving them a head up of this upcoming fee. Still though, some businesses say that there is better way to solve the valley wide issue.

Because of this fee, some grass roots organizations are planning to recall some board members of the drainage district. Others say that if this fee is really considered a tax, legally it needs to be voted on by community members.

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