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Master plan creates strategic direction for stormwater program

Posted May 2, 2018

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The City Council has adopted the Stormwater Management Program Master Plan, which resulted from an intensive, yearlong effort to compile and understand lessons learned during the first 10 years of the program and to develop a strategic direction that is realistic, well-prioritized and responsive to community needs.

The overarching goal of this effort was to help ensure the optimal use of program resources to advance the city’s strategic goals and respond to community needs in four primary program elements:

  • System maintenance.
  • Flood and erosion mitigation.
  • Flood and erosion warning.
  • Private development review.

Stakeholder and peer engagement

A key element in developing the plan was a robust, multi-faceted stakeholder and peer engagement effort.

Stormwater staff conducted detailed discussions with partner city departments and divisions as well as with seven peer communities. These were highly beneficial in ensuring that plan development was fully informed by the needs and perspectives of other city programs, as well as by the experience of comparable municipal stormwater programs.

The heart of the engagement process was a series of meetings, open to the public, with a 17-member community stakeholder group comprised of members appointed by the mayor and City Council as well as ad hoc appointees. The interaction leading up to and during the meetings with this group allowed staff to assess community needs and priorities based on diverse perspectives that well represented the city as a whole.

The stakeholder group ultimately expressed support for the overall program direction reflected in the plan.

Major outcomes

A strategic focus for each of the four primary program elements resulted from the assessment of the current state of the program and the input of stakeholders and peers. Major outcomes were:

System maintenance. Increased emphasis on rehabilitating deteriorating pipes.
Flood and erosion mitigation. Focus on smaller projects and seek partnerships or project phasing for larger projects.
Flood and erosion warning. Increase the amount, accessibility and reliability of real-time information alerting the community about flood and erosion hazards.
Private development review. Consider increasing the stringency of review and/or standards in flood-prone areas.

Also confirmed was the need for formal policy guidance in these areas:

  • Identification and regulation of local floodplains.
  • Use of voluntary property buyouts as a flood and erosion mitigation tool.
  • Level of city engagement relative to severe erosion in private creeks and channels.
  • Regulations specific to development in flood-prone areas and that account for the cumulative impact of development on flood risk.

The plan did not establish any policies, but identified key considerations to be used in future processes to evaluate each of these and make recommendations to the appropriate decision-makers.

The plan identified and prioritized a total of 13 strategic initiatives that will be undertaken in the coming months and years to ensure that the program is best meeting community needs. Stormwater staff are now planning the implementation of these initiatives and developing a program business plan that is driven by the outcome of the plan. As work on various initiatives evolves, there will be other efforts to seek community input so that the efforts of the stormwater program remain informed by and responsive to community priorities.

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