How Should We Address Our Storm Water Management Problem?

Guest Post by Tom Corrigan - Part 2

So what can we do....?

My preceding post demonstrated the cascading effects of storm water runoff from less than one inch of rain in Johns Creek.  Those of us who have lived here over 20 years have seen this behavior from Fulton County and the Fulton County Board of Education whereby they ignore the negative consequences of over-development and creating ever more impervious surface area that is unable to absorb water sufficiently to mitigate storm water runoff.  Those effects can be devastating - including becoming a contributing factor to road travel hazards that result in accidents and deaths.  I have attended too many funerals for young men and women who were my own childrens' age. 

June 29: 16-year-old Tommy Siragusa of Alpharetta, who had his driver's license less than three months, died after the Ford Explorer he was driving hit a puddle on Medlock Bridge Road and spun out of control. 

I waved to this young man as he drove though our neighborhood the day before.  I can't sit back and do NOTHING.  When we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

The Mayor and City Council have all acknowledged we have a Storm Water Management problem, so what's my concern?  The timeline to correct this, and lack of a sense of urgency in my mind is upside down...Why???

The stated plan is to complete the CLUP (Comprehensive Land Use Plan) by October or November of 2018.  After that, work would commence on defining "Green Rules", or additional ordinances for our zoning rules to allow the enforcement of new and different techniques to prevent any additional runoff from new development in Johns Creek.  Existing development will be given incentives to add more pervious surfaces (i.e., surface that allows water to drain) to parking lots, driveways, etc.  Potential solutions could be True Grid pavers. porous concrete, or porous asphalt - all immediately available examples.  So wouldn't it make more sense to have the "Green Rules" and ordinances completed BEFORE the CLUP so it can work hand-in-hand with this plan?  Wouldn't this be a very helpful tool for residents to understand how we can improve Johns Creek, especially the low lying areas, and protect our main water supply? Don't we want to preserve the Premier Living City we love to boast about?

At the same time, we also have five to six TSPLOST Projects going on at the same time.  So what's the BIG deal?  Since we have acknowledged we have a problem with a compromised storm water management system, why the rush to add so much more impervious surface without any solutions?  The Ostrich approach to a multi-dimensional chess game doesn't work here.  That is the reason you are seeing puddling and flooding on so many roads now......you are just steps away from a crisis.  So while we all love the talk about a deliberate approach to decision making.....if the house is on fire, you'd better hurry and put it out...no? 

Here are just two examples I have shared with the City of Johns Creek as a sample solution the can be implemented today.  The City has current ordinances and laws state that roads have to be curbed and guttered and have storm drains.  This may sound great but that is what has happened for over 25 years.  If you have never heard of a swale take a moment and see how it has solved problems in other area with the USA.

Here is something we could use for all our sidewalks, parking lots, trails in parks, and have developers use in sensitive areas for flooding and erosion pf the local creeks for driveways, walkways, patios.

We have an active resident (Carole Madan, aka Momma Nature) who is a retired professional naturalist and gardener.  You have probably seen her at City Council Meeting begging them to STOP CLEAR CUTTING all the trees.  If the City were to consider swales on Abbotts Bridge Rd., which is now 10 lanes wide in some places, we could reduce the amount of rain water that ends up in the storm drains. We could also use the True Grid Pavers for sidewalks.  This material is lower cost than concrete, lasts longer, requires no maintenance, is pervious so storm water, recharges the water table, is ADA compliant, requires no special tools to install, and comes in many colors to add more beauty and interest to our community.  So what's not to like?  Momma Nature could help in the choosing of native plantings to go into the swales.  This will help the wildlife of birds, bees, etc, give some beauty and color to our streets, and lowers the burden and beating all the low lying areas in Johns Creek who are getting all this additional storm water. 

We all bear the financial cost of Police, Fire, Water and local government administration.  The only inequitable arrangement is Storm Water, where all the low lying areas within Johns Creek that have retention ponds must maintain them at their cost.  Fulton County, and now Johns Creek, have ignored this situation of their own making for years.  The time has come to deal with the results.  The time has come to proactively plan to mitigate the effects of impervious surfaces.  The technology exists and is cost effective.  There is no reason to ignore the situation any longer - we do so at our own peril.