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NEWBERRY – Residents of a Newberry neighborhood have complained that a City-owned stormwater system isn’t doing its job, leading to water encroaching near homes, yard erosion and more.

Newberry’s Utilities and Public Works Director Jamie Jones used a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the initial issues, reasons for, remediation of and costs to rectify two areas of stormwater runoff issues within the Country Way subdivision.

The Country Way residential development is located south of Southwest 15th Avenue and west of U.S. 27/41. It was constructed in phases over a 30-year period.

A portion of the stormwater-management system was constructed in rear yard easements, outside of public rights of way. Jones said, “These ‘back lot’ stormwater swales interconnected with stormwater piping and collection inlets both on the streets and behind the lots, which eventually convey stormwater to basins throughout the development.”

Residents of the subdivision complained that the stormwater system did not adequately handle large rainfall events. They said stormwater was encroaching near homes, causing yard erosion and sinkhole activity potentially related to the conveyance of stormwater.

The City retained CHW Engineers to evaluate the drainage facilities in the main areas of concern.

A brief summary of the engineering findings revealed that generally the stormwater piping system was installed in substantial conformance with the permitted drawings, although while the structures were present, the elevations may be off slightly from the design. The engineers reported that this should not affect the surface water flows. The study could not confirm that all the swales and mini retention basins were constructed in accordance with the permitted plans as they may have been constructed and then altered over the years.

Engineers found that many properties in the areas of concern now have sheds, gardens, decks, planters, hot tubs, concrete slabs, etc. in the 15-foot public utility easement along the rear lot lines, thus diverting the water flow. According to Jones, many homeowners didn’t realize there was a utility easement for stormwater drainage on their properties and built right over them.

The City has remediated the areas of concern, which Jones referred to as Phases 1 and 2. Engineering/surveying costs of both areas amount to $30,000. Construction costs for Phase 1 were $34,556. In an effort to save money, the City remediated Phase 2 with City staff. Phase 2 construction costs were $11,622. “The total project costs totaled up to $76,178,” Jones said, adding that everything had been completed.

Because the regulations at the time the project was approved and constructed were different than they are now and because the builder constructed the project in conformance with the permitted drawings, the City had no recourse to require the builder to remediate the stormwater runoff issues. The City of Newberry states that the issues are now resolved and the City is no longer receiving complaints from property owners in the subdivision.

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