Augusta, GA (WJBF) — The gloomy, rainy, drizzly weather outside as Brad Means sat down with guests Richard Eyer and John Harris seemed all too fitting as the backdrop to discuss stormwater. A lot of times when it rains, as homeowners – and as a community – we feel the affects of the problems that come with stormwater, not to mention the problems that come from new construction and what it does to our waterways. Those problems directly impacted the formation of the Columbia County Stormwater Alliance.
Brad Means: Let’s tackle the topic of stormwater with a couple of experts on it. A couple of certainly very interested parties. Richard Eyer and John Harris are with the Columbia County Stormwater Alliance. And they’ve been kind enough to join us on the set of The Means Report today. Richard and John, thanks for your time. We appreciate it.
– Thank you very having us.
– Thank you for having us.
Brad Means: Alright, so the Columbia County Stormwater Alliance. I’ll just start with a general question. Tell the viewers, either one of you, why you all were formed. Kind of what your goal is here when it comes to stormwater problems.
– We were formed by residents that are being affected by stormwater. There is not even a year old. And we’re trying to help to collaborate with Columbia County in getting help for different past problems that have come to kind of go into our ponds, and waterways, and flooding. So we’re, that’s how it was formed.
Brad Means: You know, there have been no shortage of stories on channel six about homeowners with problems with flooding. Businesses with problems with flooding. Is that kinda what spurred the birth of the CCSA? Residential water issues, or are there other water-related issues that I’m missing here? John?
– You know, that’s a great question, Brad. And the reason that I say that is problems with stormwater is really why Columbia County Stormwater Alliance was formed. There were lots of problems with stormwater. Let’s start with flooding. Hurricane in Houston recently. Record rainfalls, but a lot of their problem was due to infrastructure issues with their waterways and a lot of that could’ve been eliminated. Now when you have problems with stormwater, really stormwater is water isn’t absorbed into the ground and it runs somewhere else. And normally it takes something else with it. So one of the problems we had with stormwater is the erosion effect it has. When water runs off property, it collects things. Riverbeds might get silt, might get mud. They down the riverbeds. They wash in the creeks. They wash into lakes, into ponds. And it creates lots of issues. As an example, in Columbia County, we’ve got a lot of neighborhoods that have the amenities of a nice pond or a lake.
– That’s right.
– And what happens is a lot of this stormwater that has brought down silt it’s kind of like displaced the water. So what happens on a day like today where we’re getting rain first time in a long time, it could create flooding if you get too much of it.
Brad Means: And typically when we air these stories about people having flooding on their personal property, we air their side of the story and then we have the county saying, we’re doing the best we can to resolve this problem. Columbia County, you pay the better part of 10, 11 cents for every hundred feet of impervious surface on your property. That is surface that does not absorb water. Your driveway, a parking lot, a patio, you name it. Richard, my question to you is what can the county do? What can the other leaders do to help alleviate the flooding that John talked about?
– Well, we’re getting together with the county officials. Not in a confrontational way, but we’re getting together with them to try to come up with a solution. They have just so much money to spend, but we’re wanting to try to come up with some ways to spend it in a way that we can make up for these sins of the past. I mean, we’ve got to not have our neighborhoods affected by something they didn’t cause. If you have somebody upstream that’s bringing silt downstream, that person needs to correct that situation. And we’ve got a lot of that happening around our county.
Brad Means: So are we talking about the new construction? Is that contributing to a lot of these issues? It’s a blessing and a curse, the boom that Columbia County is seeing when it comes to stormwater.
– You know what, that’s a great question too because new construction is a problem. And there’s a way to control it. I know contractors, developers required to use silt fences.
Brad Means: That’s right.
– The silt fences keep silt from going through. But you know when you get a heavy storm that the silt fences hold up maybe not all the time. Another problem that we have with stormwater is it creates pollution. I mentioned if water doesn’t soak into the ground, it runs off somewhere and it takes something with it. And I’m talking like fertilizers, and pesticides, and oil. These things all flow into our rivers and our lakes and, ultimately, our coastal waterways. So it does create a pollution issue for us.
Brad Means: Richard, what kind of response. And I know it’s early in this process. But what kind of feel or response to you have from leaders? I know there’s strength in numbers, we would like the Columbia County Stormwater Alliance to have a bunch of people in it so that people would you’d really have government’s ear but so far how’s it going with them?
– It’s going slow, and getting people out and together it’s like I said it’s a group of residents that aren’t professional lobbyists, or they’re not professional political people, they’re just normal residents like you and I and they’re trying to get the county’s attention, and they have. The county has been very forthcoming they’ve come to our meetings, they’ve sent out engineers but again we want that to be a forefront of their when they come to work every day we want them to think about the stormwater in the county and how we can correct it and, they have plans in the future but we just want to try to give them as much help as we can as residents to try to enable them to make those plans happen quicker and make up for these these past problems and these problems that are continuing to happen to our communities here.
Brad Means: Do you think that most homeowners, business owners, were aware that stormwater problems were a possibility when they bought their house or set up their business or you think a lot of them are being caught by surprise with these problems?
– I think you have both sides, I think some people aware of it there are probably more people there there are not aware of it but it’s certainly it’s certainly there and we encourage people, Columbia County Stormwater, we encourage you to go over our website, we’re brand new, we’ve just formed ourselves, and we encourage you to get on our website look at our organization see what it’s about, you can see pictures. It doesn’t cost you anything to join our group and we encourage you to do such.
Brad Means: And we’re gonna put your, I’m sorry, we’re gonna put your information up on the screen in just a minute but what about in the world of politics, we keep talking about the government and our leaders, would you all get involved in that arena, would you all encourage candidates to support your stance? Kind of tell me how you are there.
– We are, we’ve talked to Doug Duncan and he’s been very supportive also we’re talking to his, I guess the running against him.
Brad Means: Sure, Pam Tucker.
– Pam Tucker.
Brad Means: How is she on stormwater?
– She is very, very interested as well.
– And so we do have their ear, like I said, I think our our job is to get them more funds, more money, and figure out solutions to these problems.
– Well, I mean the great thing is next year is an election year, it’s coming, so who’s gonna support us more?
Brad Means: Well as I mentioned their strength in numbers and the Columbia County Stormwater Alliance’s numbers are growing, if you’d like to join their ranks it’s easy to do so, as Richard mentioned, they have a website that you can check out columbiacountystormwateralliance, all one word, .com there’s their address on Central Avenue you can go by and or mail them, probably just don’t want to drop in to 2100 Central Avenue, but just to let you know that’s where they operate out of, call first,288-4189. Richard and John thank you for what you’re doing a lot of people just sit on the sidelines and don’t get involved but you’re being advocates for your community and I appreciate your time today.
– Thank you.
– We appreciate you having us, thank you so much.
Brad Means: Absolutely you’re always welcome here on The Means Report.