Recent Items and Events:
-November 19, 2011 – Storm Drain Stencilling Project
On Saturday, November 19th, the City of Duluth (in conjunction with the Gwinnett County Dept. of Water Resources) hosted a “Paint a Drain Campaign” volunteer event. Storm drains were painted in Abbott’s Pointe, Castlemaine, Chattahoochee Cove, Chattahoochee Reserve, the Overlook, Windsor Court, and Woodehaven subdivisions and were stencilled with the phrase “Keep it Clean – Drains to Stream!”, as to educate citizens about water quality and to promote the City’s stormwater management program.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help!!!
-November 15, 2011 – SW Credit Application Open House
On November 15th, from 4pm to 8pm, City staff will be hosting an Open House to assist residents and property owners with completing stormwater credit applications. Numerous credit opportunities are available to potentially lower stormwater utility fees, so please RSVP if you would like to attend the Open House. It will take place in the Community Room of Duluth City Hall, which is located at 3167 Main St.
Prior to the Open House, please review our Stormwater Credit Manual to learn more about credit opportunuties.
-September 2, 2011 – Stormwater bills mailed
City of Duluth property tax bills containing stormwater utility user fees were mailed to property owners on August 31st. The new stormwater fees appear on tax bills for the first time this year and the vast majority (88%) of the fees will be a flat-rate of $36 for most homes and $14.40 for most condos/townhomes. Non-residential properties will pay a fee based on the amount of impervious surface that a property contains. For more information, click here to view the City’s stormwater billing rate ordinance.
If you feel that your stormwater fee has been charged in error, please complete a Customer Service Form and fax it to 770-814-3008 (or email pertinent info to email@example.com) and City staff will investigate.
As a reminder, credits are available to potentially lower your stormwater fee, so please review the City’s Stormwater Credit Manual to see if your property may qualify. Credit applications received by December 31, 2011 will be applied retroactively towards 2012 stormwater user fees, if approved.
-FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) regarding the City’s Stormwater Utility User Fee, click here.
-July 25, 2011 – Credit Applications
In order for credits to be applied to 2011 stormwater bills, a credit application must be submitted to the City on or before August 12, 2011. Credit applications received between August 13 and December 31, 2011 will be applied retroactively towards 2012 stormwater bills. For more information on stormwater credits, please email Tim Lawrence (or click here to view the Stormwater Credit Manual).
-June 20, 2011 – Stormwater Utility Adoption
On June 13th, 2011, the Mayor & City Council formally adopted a Stormwater Utility Ordinance and a Billing Rate Ordinance (billing rates are shown below, for reference). Also adopted on June 13th was a Stormwater Utility Credit Manual, which details how property owners can go about lowering their utility fee. Note - stormwater fees will be included on 2011 Duluth property tax bills.
-Most detached single-family homes, or 1.0 ERU: $36.00 per year
-Most attached single-family homes (townhomes/condos), or 0.4 ERU: $14.40 per year
-Non-residential properties (includes apartments): $36/year for every 2,654 sq. feet of impervious area
-Detatched single family homes over 7,962 s.f of impervious area: same rate as non-residential properties
-Undeveloped properties and those with less than 500 sq. feet of impervious area: no charge
-April 25, 2011 – City Council Work Session – stormwater utility user fee rate discussion
PowerPoint Presentation (1 MB .pdf file)
-January 24, 2011 – City Council Work Session – stormwater discussion
PowerPoint Presentation (2 MB .pdf file)
-December 7, 2010 - Stormwater Workshop
PowerPoint Presentation (3 MB .pdf file)
What can I do at home to help with stormwater pollution?
What can I do as a commercial business to help with stormwater pollution?
What can I do as an industry to help with stormwater pollution?
What can I do to get involved and educate the public on stormwater pollution?
How can I report polluters?
How can we use trees to protect stormwater pollution?
Reclaim Your Rain: Rain Gardens for Home Landscapes
Have you ever been frustrated by having to water your lawn only days after a rainstorm? Where does all that water go? Add in the watering restrictions, and it makes maintaining that green lawn even more challenging. It may be time to consider replacing some of your grass with a rain garden.
Rain gardens are landscaped areas designed to collect and utilize rainwater. They are a great way to reclaim rainwater from a roof downspout or driveway. Rain gardens allow more water from rain to soak into the ground to water plants and create a beautiful, low-maintenance landscaped bed. Typically about 30 percent more water from a rain soaks into the ground in a rain garden than in an equivalent area of lawn.
Rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff that carries pollutants from fertilizers and pesticides and debris washing from lawns and driveways into nearby rivers, lakes or streams. They also prevent damage to stream banks and reduce the risk of local flooding. In addition to being beautiful, they can provide valuable habitat to many birds and butterflies.
How Do Rain Gardens Work?
A rain garden collects stormwater, filters it through soils and plants and allows it to soak into the ground. A rain garden receives runoff water from lawns as well as rooftops or other hard surfaces such as driveways. The rain garden holds the water on the landscape so that it can soak into the ground instead of flowing into a street and down a storm drain. The plants, mulch and soil in a rain garden combine natural physical, biological and chemical processes to remove pollutants from runoff. Many pollutants will be filtered out and break down in the soil over time.
Where Are the Best Places to Locate Rain Gardens in the Landscape?
Rain gardens are best located in low areas if the yard where runoff tends to flow. While they should not be built next to a building’s foundations, rain gardens located near to impervious surface such as driveways, patios and sidewalks can easily capture the runoff from these areas.
A rain garden should be located at least 10 feet from the foundation of the house or other building. Sites with more than a 12 percent slope (an elevation change of 12 feet down per 100 feet in length) may not be suitable for rain gardens. Further, if you have a septic system, avoid planting a rain garden over top of the system.
What Plants Should You Use?
Finding plants for your rain garden is not difficult. Many native plants, available at your nearest Pike Family Nursery, are well-suited for your rain garden. Here are some suggested native plants:
|Red Maple||Acer rubrum|
|Black Gum||Nyssa sylvatica|
|Willow Oak||Quercus phellos|
|Bald Cypress||Taxodium distichum|
|River Birch||Betula nigra|
|Musclewood / American Hornbeam||Carpinus caroliniana|
|Green Ash||Fraxinus pennsylvanica|
|Sweetbay Magnolia||Magnolia virginiana|
|Virginia Sweetspire||Itea virginica|
|Summersweet Clethra||Clethra alnifolia|
|Common Winterberry/Winterberry Holly||Ilex verticillata|
|American Beautyberry||Callicarpa americana|
|St. John ’s Wort||Hypericum fasciculatum|
|Perennials, Grasses and Groundcovers|
|New England Aster||Aster novae-angliae|
|Broadleaf Uniola/Indian Woodoats||Chasmanthium latifolium|
|Joe-Pye Weed||Eupatorium fistulosum|
|Swamp Sunflower||Helianthus angustifolius|
|Scarlet Rosemallow/Swamp Hibiscus||Hibiscus coccineus|
|Cardinal Flower||Lobelia cardinalis|
|Cinnamon Fern||Osmunda cinnamomea|
|Royal Fern||Osmunda regalis|
|Golden Ragwort||Packera aurea|
|Yellow Stargrass||Hypoxis spp.|
|Swamp Milkweed||Asclepias incarnata|
|Narrowleaf Dragonhead||Physotegia angustifolia|
|Blackeyed Susan||Rudbeckia hirta|
|Red Columbine||Aquilegia canadensis|
|Clubed Begonia||Begonia cucullata|
How to Create a Rain Garden
- Locate a rain garden in natural depressions in the landscape near a downspout of the home.
- Use rope or garden hose to lay out the boundary of the rain garden in a curvy in shape with the longest length perpendicular to the slope of the land.
- The rain garden should be designed to hold about 6” of water above the ground surface.
- Ideally, locate the rain garden in such a way that a low berm on the downhill side of the rain garden will hold back the appropriate amount of water. A berm is a small earthen dam, no more than 12” high.
- The bottom of the rain garden should be as level as possible, so some minor grading may be necessary.
- A shallow swale or corrugated drain pipe (buried or above ground) will channel runoff from the roof downspout or paved surface to the rain garden.
- The soil in the rain garden should be a loose, sandy organic soil that allows water to quickly soak into the ground to nourish plant roots and recharge the groundwater. A general rule-of-thumb is to have a soil that soaks in about one inch of water per hour. The following steps will help to achieve this:
- Mix organic matter into the soil within the rain garden by spreading 2 to 4 inches of compost over the area and mixing the organic matter in with the existing soil.
- If the soil is acidic (has a low pH), lime should also be added to neutralize the pH of the soil.
- For soils with high clay content, it may be beneficial to remove about 1-2 feet of the soil and replace it with a more porous “rain garden soil.” A soil mix suitable for rain gardens is a mix of 50-60 percent sand, 20-30 percent topsoil, and 20-30 percent compost. The clay content in the rain garden soil replacement mix should be no more than 10 percent.
- Establish a grass or groundcover border along the upper edge of the rain garden to slow down the runoff water as it enters the rain garden. Do the same over the berm to stabilize it as a border of the rain garden.
- Plant drought tolerant, wet tolerant, hardy plants. A mix of ornamental grasses, shrubs and self-seeding perennials are good choices. See list above.
- Once plants are in place, cover the rain garden with a 3” layer of mulch. Shredded hardwood is a good choice since it is less likely to float away.
- Remove weeds on a regular basis and replenish mulch as needed.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Plan on providing an “overflow” path for water to take if it keeps raining after the rain garden fills up. This path should be stabilized with a hardy grass or groundcover
A rain garden can be the beginning of a more natural landscape for a homeowner. A more natural landscape can combine beauty with less maintenance and less need for chemicals. There is also a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that the landscape is keeping pollutants out of streams and lakes close by. To learn more about rain gardens or to find photos of demonstration sites, visit www.cleanwatercampaign.com or call 404-463-3259.
(Special thanks to Dr. Rose Mary Seymour of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service Griffin Office and Alfred Vick, Ecos Environmental Design, Inc..)
Be part of the Solution!
- Conserve water.
- Maintain Septic Tanks.
- Pick up after your pet.
- Don’t dump anything down the storm drain.
- Dispose of Oil and Grease in waste containers. Not down the drain.
- Follow directions when using fertilizer and pesticides.
Do you Service Your Car?
32% of Georgians service their own cars. This creates a lot of automotive waste such as oil, transmission fluid and oil filters. But where does all this waste go? Unfortunately, these wastes aren’t always handled the right way. They can end upon the ground or in storm drains, which lead to our waterways. So what’s the right way to reduce, reuse, recycle or properly dispose of automotive wastes such as:
- Motor Oil
- Oil Filters
- Brake Fluid
- Transmission Fluid
For general waste handling information and a list of recycling/disposal locations near you call Duluth City Hall at 770-476-1790 or Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful at 770-822-5187 or look for the “Auto Products” category on the “Where can I recycle…” drop down menu box on the Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful web site at www.gwinnettcb.org.
The Drain is Just for Rain!
Leaves, Leaves, Leaves…and Healthy Streams
Fall is a time for football, color, cooler days, brilliant skies, falling leaves and unfortunately…the need for yard work to collect all those fallen leaves!
But, what do leaves have to do with the health of our streams?
It is not uncommon for leaves to be blown or swept into the street, drainage ditch or storm drains. They are then washed into local streams where bacteria cause the leaves to decay and release phosphorus. This bacterial action and release of phosphorus can lead to a decrease in the water oxygen levels necessary to support the survival of fish and aquatic life.
What can I do to help?
Don’t blow or sweep leaves into the street, storm drain or drainage ditches.
Instead, consider composting the old leaves. You’ll save our streams and your
garden will benefit from all the rich compost you are able to produce! You’ll
also save money in sanitation costs.
Compost: From Golden Leaves to Gardener’s Gold
Compost is often referred to as “Gardener’s Gold” because of its ability to help plants grow. If you’ve ever been in a forest and peeled away the top layers of leaf litter on the ground, you will have seen a rich layer of this black, earthy, sweet smelling, moist material called compost. Compost, when mixed in with soil, improves soil structure, adds a wide variety of minerals and nutrients, and improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture.
Composting is the earth’s way of naturally recycling old plant material and you too can use this process in your own back yard to manage your yard waste. So, this fall, why not try composting all those fallen leaves and by next spring you too could be mining “Gardener’s Gold” in your very own backyard.
For information on how to compost call Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful at 770-822-5187 or visit their web site at www.gwinnettcb.org, click on the blue “Issues & Actions” button and select composting from the drop down list.
Clean Water Campaign
You may have seen Public Service Announcements on Channel 2 featuring “Rain Drop Man” wearing the funny blue suit and looks like a blue rain drop. What he is illustrating is the many facets of storm water pollution and how to prevent it. The City of Duluth supports the efforts of the CWC through distribution of materials and attendance at monthly meetings.
The Clean Water Campaign in coordination with the Atlanta Regional Commission and 20 local governments. Environmental organization, non-profits and corporations are invited to actively participate in the Campaign. The CWC developed these PSA’s to reach out to the public to help stop pollution of the local streams, rivers and tributaries. In Duluth, the Chattahoochee River is very important. It is classified as a Trout Stream, but as long as the water is being polluted like it is from construction, run off, pesticides, litter,
chemical, motor oil, dirt, and other polluters – the fish will not live for long.
Do you part in helping reduce pollution to the waterways. For more information, visit their web site at www.cleanwatercampaign.com.
Top Ten Things You Can Do To Be A “Solution To Stormwater Pollution”
- Never dump anything down a storm drain or into a drainage ditch.
- Recycle motor oil and other vehicle fluids.
- Throw litter in its place.
- Clean up after your pet.
- Check your vehicles for leaks (repair them!).
- Reduce the amount of household hazardous waste generated at home.
- Compost yard clippings.
- Use fertilizer and pesticide only when needed (Read the label!).
- If you wash your vehicle at home, do so on the lawn rather than the pavement.
- Tell a friend or neighbor about how to prevent stormwater pollution and get involved in your community.
Do you wash your car at home?
Washing your car at home often uses more water than a commercial car wash and can also introduce soap, oil and engine grime into the environment. Dirty water and soap from washing your car can flow down the driveway, into the curb or roadside storm drain and then to a nearby creek or river. Water than enters a storm drain is not treated or clean.
Commercial car wash companies often filter, clean and recycle their water and are required to make sure any waste water they produce is disposed of to a waste water treatment facility.
Help protect our local waterways by washing your car at a commercial car wash.
Please remember: Vehicle washing and other outdoor water use is still restricted under Gwinnett County’s outdoor watering ban. Call 770-476-1790 or visit their website for more information on the ban.
Related Storm Water Websites
Non-Point Source Pollution
Clean Water Campaign
Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District
Georgia EPD Storm Water Website
US-EPA Storm Water Website
Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful
Gwinnett County Storm Water Management