Apr 14, 2005

Stormwater Fee May Leave University of Georgia with $220K Utility Bill

The University of Georgia is expected receive a sample bill in the mail this week for $220,000 to pay for its share of a county stormwater utility.
University officials, however, said Wednesday they expect to pay "considerably less."
The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a new fee in December that would make each landowner in the county responsible for paying for the water that flows over his or her property.
How much the landowner owes is determined by the amount of impervious surface on the property.
Cail Hammons, stormwater education coordinator for Clarke County, said the average homeowner in the county would pay $42 a year.
As the largest landholder in the county, the University's bill comes to about $220,000, although ACC and University officials still are negotiating that amount, Hammons said.
Hank Huckaby, senior vice president for finance and administration, and University Spokesman Tom Jackson said they expect the bill to come out to "considerably less" than $220,000.
Jackson said the University's own stormwater management system handles some water that flows over the city's streets, and the two sides have not agreed on how much that is worth.
"There is considerable give-and-take about who's handling whose water," Jackson said.
Ralph Johnson, associate vice president for the Physical Plant, who has been directly involved with the negotiations, agreed with their assessment, although he said until the negotiations are complete, the University could be charged anything between nothing and $220,000.
Johnson said the University's system actually handles more of the county's water than the other way around.
However, the ACC government could still charge the University, since according to its permit, the county is responsible for making sure the water of the Oconee River System—which passes through the county collecting stormwater runoff—is as clean when it leaves the county as when it came in.
Johnson said the University and ACC government still are studying what cost-cutting credits the University can earn for steps it already has taken to curb the quantity of water it drains into the river.
The initiatives include rain gardens on Lumpkin Street that would absorb the first inch of rainfall during a storm and in the process filter out pollutants from entering the groundwater system as well as a "greenroof" over the Boyd Graduate Building that absorbs rainwater that would otherwise runoff.