Citing a potential for stormwater to flow into already polluted waters, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is proposing to designate Statesville a Phase II community.
State and federal regulators adopted the Phase II designation in 1999 to help protect the nation's water from polluted stormwater runoff. It would require the city to adopt a multifaceted program to address stormwater runoff issues.
City officials are adamantly opposed to the proposal, claiming it will increase costs and deter development. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Johnson said the state needs to look at the bigger picture.
"Many of the streams are negatively impacted before they ever get to Statesville," Johnson said, calling for a resolution opposing the move at the council's Feb. 7 meeting.
Public Works Director Larry Pressley emphasized the potential scope of the state's action.
"This may not sound complicated on paper, but I can tell you that a neighboring city's Phase II permit consists of 48 pages of regulations."
State officials emphasized that a final decision has not been made.
"The fact that Statesville is being considered for a Phase II designation does not mean the community has been designated at this point," said Coleen Sullins, director of DENR's Water Quality Division. "Various information, including public and community input, will be considered before making any final decision."
The City Council has sent a resolution to DENR asserting that Phase II designation is not warranted.
The designation and "accompanying fee system would add considerable new costs to ... business," the resolution says. That "will provide a disincentive for residential and commercial business to locate in Statesville."
If the city were designated Phase II, Statesville would have to create a plan covering efforts in six areas: public outreach; public involvement; stopping illicit discharges and mapping the storm sewer system; construction stormwater management; post-construction stormwater management; and stormwater housekeeping practices for government facilities.
State officials have pledged to consider the city's concerns.
"We will evaluate the comments received and take a look at what programs currently exist in Statesville," said Susan Massengale, DENR's public information officer. "Our staff will present their recommendations to the Environmental Management Commission's Water Quality Committee, and we currently are looking at their May 11 meeting...."
If Statesville were designated Phase II, Massengale said, it would have up to 18 months to apply for a permit and five years to stop illicit discharges, improving about 20 percent of the storm sewer system per year.