Bryant takes unique ap­proach to drainage projects

The Saline Courier Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Sarah Perry

With rain­fall amounts this year well above av­er­age, stormwa­ter and drainage is­sues are be­ing dis­cussed across the county. Bryant of­fi­cials say they are al­ways work­ing to make im­prove­ments.

“We’re think­ing about it all the time,” said Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Mark Grim­mett.

In 2017, Bryant had ap­prox­i­mately 60 homes flood af­ter a heavy storm, Grim­mett said. Since the com­ple­tion of sev­eral im­prove­ment projects, he is aware of only about six homes that had had flood­ing this year, he added.

Grim­mett said the stormwa­ter projects the city has com­pleted are “sub­stan­tial.”

For up­com­ing projects, city of­fi­cials are tak­ing a unique ap­proach. City of­fi­cials are work­ing with en­gi­neers to de­sign large scale im­prove­ment projects, but since larger projects can be more ex­pen­sive, the city is split­ting projects, in­clud­ing phases and find­ing cheaper solutions to help res­i­dents quicker.

With a “mi­cro ap­proach,” the city has looked at ways to help spe­cific homes that are flood­ing.

“We are zero­ing in on those homes. That’s helped,” he said.

To fund these im­prove­ments, the city col­lects stormwa­ter fees which are cur­rently set at $3 for res­i­den­tial cus­tomers and $4 for com­mer­cial cus­tomers.

“Those stormwa­ter fees we’re col­lect­ing, we’re not sit­ting on them. We’re us­ing them and we’re mak­ing some pro­gess,” Grim­mett said.

City of­fi­cials have dis­cussed re­view­ing the stormwa­ter fees and have even pro­posed a change to how the rate is set for com­mer­cial cus­tomers.

“Rates for each property will be dif­fer­ent based on im­per­vi­ous square feet,” Grim­mett said. “We’ve talked about it for a cou­ple years now. We’re ex­cited we’re get­ting some move­ment on it.”

Changes have not yet been presented to, or approved, by the Bryant City Coun­cil.

As well as the im­prove­ment projects, Grim­mett and other staff work to en­sure de­vel­op­ers build projects fol­low­ing stormwa­ter spec­i­fi­ca­tions not to cause fur­ther flood­ing.

Grim­mett and the city’s con­struc­tion man­age­ment team take part in the city’s De­vel­op­ment Re­view Com­mit­tee and visit job sites ev­ery day.

One prob­lem the city will never be able to solve is the un­pre­dictabil­ity of flood­ing.

“Ev­ery rain­fall sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent,” Grim­mett said.

A list of com­pleted stormwa­ter projects, as well as planed projects, is avail­able on the city’s web­site.

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