City to charge stormwater fee starting on Sept. 1


News staff writer

August 9, 2006

Hood River residents will soon begin paying a $2.50 monthly fee for maintenance of stormwater drains.

The new service charge takes effect on Sept. 1 and an explanation is being mailed out next week with the water/sewer utility bills.

“We thought that it would be a good idea to anticipate the questions that people might have and then try to answer them,” said Bob Francis, city manager.

The fact sheet covers 10 issues related to the user fee, including how stormwater runoff can cause flooding, pooling, erosion and water pollution.

The City Council approved the fee in July to cover the cost of unfunded water quality mandates set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Francis said the $30,000-$50,000 generated from the user fee will finance the costs incurred by the city to control stormwater runoff in compliance with federal and state regulations.

“The City of Hood River is striving to protect its infrastructure, businesses and homes from damage due to flooding. It is also working toward improving the water quality of streams and rivers so that residents and visitors may boat, fish, swim, windsurf and kiteboard in clean water. A stormwater service charge is a fair and equitable system to support stormwater management activities,” states the fact sheet.

The new storm water charge is temporary and could be increased in 18 months when City Engineer Dave Bick has completed a study of impervious surfaces.

Francis said the current fee amount was set in the city’s capital facilities plan adopted in 2001. He said the same charge instituted by other cities at that time is now higher due to cost of living adjustments.

When the issue was revisited in May, Francis said the extra funding could be essential if the city loses $200,000 from its share of funding for the maintenance of roads within the county.

Those dollars were previously brought in by timber receipts from the Mt. Hood National Forest. However, the county is preparing for an end to the compensation paid by federal officials following drastic reductions in harvest level due to environmental restrictions. For more information on the new stormwater service charge call City Engineer Dave Bick at 387-5200.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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