Special to Iredell Free News
Statesville is experiencing its highest rainfalls in recent history in 2020.
The city recorded 50.49 inches of rainfall through the end of August, and is on track to have 70-plus inches by the end of the year. The previous 10-year average annual rainfall is 49.52 inches.
This kind of rainfall impacts the city in a variety of ways, explained Scott Harrell, Public Works executive director and city engineer.
“It definitely affects our work schedule. Outside projects are put on hold … sanitation services get behind and stormwater issues become more demanding,” he said.
The Statesville Stormwater Management Division is fairly new and currently has a three-person maintenance crew, a technician and program manager. In accordance with its EPA-issued permit, the city must take steps to improve the quality of stormwater runoff as well as begin making improvements to its stormwater infrastructure.
Stormwater is rainwater or melted snow that runs off streets, lawns and other areas. When it is absorbed into soil, it is filtered and replenishes aquifers or flows into streams and rivers. But in developed areas, impervious surfaces such as pavement and roofs prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, water runs rapidly into storm drains, sewer systems and drainage ditches, causing flooding, stream bank erosion, infrastructure damage and contaminating streams and rivers.
“The stormwater crew has worked diligently in some of the hardest hit areas,” said Harrell. “We are opening up clogged pipes and replacing older pipes, improving drainage and doing a lot of tail ditch work.”
The Stormwater Management Division has a lengthy list of areas that need attention and is prioritizing the jobs to get the most bang for their buck, explained Harrell.
Newly adopted construction regulations will also make a difference by providing guidelines to manage stormwater issues in new developments.
The frequency of these heavy rains don’t give the ground time to dry out and creates more run-off, Harrell continued. “The stormwater regulations are in place to maintain good water quality. But with the amount of rain we’ve had, most folks care about the quantity of rain and the problems it is causing.”
Harrell has suggestions for every property owner that will help reduce the impact of these heavy rains.
“Check your gutters and downspouts. See where water is pooling and make sure the downspouts are directing the water away from your home or business,” he explained.
“Look and see how your yard is draining. Water will be moving downward to the nearest creek. If your property is in a low level, you will be in the pathway of rainwater. And if it’s a heavy rainfall, there will be more problems,” said Harrell. “If it’s necessary to re-route the flow of water on your property, be careful not to cause more problems for your neighbors.”
It is also important to keep the streets free of yard debris. If you have a driveway culvert or storm drain inlet on or near your property, check it to make sure sticks, leaves and other debris are not blocking the flow of water, he added.
For more information on the City’s Stormwater Management Program, visit www.statesvillenc.net/departments/public_works/stormwater.