City asks county for $400,000 for stormwater design planning

Columbus officials asked the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors on Monday for $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to spend on engineering costs and planning for its stormwater cleanup project.

He represented the city’s first formal request for county ARPA funds.

Wagoner Engineering project manager Stephen Thompson said the money would help the city get the ball rolling on some “low-hanging fruit” from its ambitious stormwater cleanup program.

The city has earmarked about $3 million of its $5 million in federal pandemic relief funds for stormwater and wastewater issues. He had previously demanded $3 million from the county, but last week supervisors said that was not happening.

“We have fruit projects on hand, but we need to have the design work to see what impact those projects will have,” Thompson said. “We don’t want to just move the water faster to another area and cause an area that’s not flooded right now to flood.”

Thompson said the money would cover about half of the design and planning costs.

“The planning is going to cost $365,000, and we’ll put that on the agenda for the city to do (Tuesday),” he said. “The design costs around $440,000. … This is for areas that we can address right away.

After planning is complete, the city may seek other sources of revenue through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service or Federal Emergency Management Agency grant programs. for building resilient infrastructure and communities, he said.

“We did this process with Madison County and the City of Canton,” he said. “It’s a tried and true process that we do, if you just give us some time we can do the same in Columbus.”

Carol Jackson of Wagoner Engineering said the study would be the basis for a stormwater program.

“It’s more about analyzing data and identifying where the problems are showing up,” she said. “We have to see where (the water) is coming from. For example, from my brief assessment, the problems at McCrary Creek are tied to Magbee and Black Creek. These are mostly outside the city limits.

District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks said the city’s request will be added to the list along with rural water associations also requesting support.

“I’m not trying to be insensitive,” Brooks said. “But if we submit 10 projects (to the state) and none of them are funded, it’s not up to us. We have no obligation to do anything. We’re doing our best, and if they say it’s not funded, I’m not going to take county money to make it work.

County Administrator Jay Fisher said he would add the city’s request to the list of potential water projects and it would be evaluated in the future.

Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.

Abdul J. Gaspar