Commissioner raises concerns about storm-water management

The issue of retention structures, like this one on Sycamore Street across from HiIlcrest Zoo, will be reviewed in a Thursday night study session after the regular City Commission meeting. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

Storm-water management is back on the mind of at least one Clovis city commissioner.

The issue will be reviewed in a Thursday night study session to be held after the regular City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Cathy Haynes said she called for the study session because she has been asked by numerous citizens to revisit a city ordinance related to retention structures, which are man-made ponds designed to hold storm-water runoff.

The ponds, she said, are an unsightly safety hazard.

The ordinance requires storm-water runoff be maintained by implementing one of five preferred methods:

• Infiltration of runoff on site;

• Utilizing existing playas (shallow lakes);

• Flow continuation by use of open vegetation swales and natural depressions;

• Storm-water retention structures (or basins);

• Storm-water detention structures, which are similar to retention basins but are underground, utilizing vaults or tanks.

All five measures are meant to alleviate flooding.
Haynes said retention basins are the most popular method to manage storm water, but she thinks other options should be considered.

“Children can drown in them (retention ponds) because fences are not required,” she said.

The ponds also create a health hazard because mosquito infestations increase due to stagnate water, Haynes said.

“More mosquitoes increase the risk of West Nile Virus.” She said the ponds are unattractive “eye sores” because they become “trash catchers” filled with weeds when dry.

“I know we (city commissioners) have spent many hours on this subject,” Haynes said, “but I feel there is room for improvement.”

City Manager Joe Thomas said retention ponds are necessary in developed areas because concrete and roofs generate more water runoff. “If there aren’t allowances such as retention ponds,” Thomas said, “the streets and possibly homes will flood.”

Mayor pro-tem Kevin Duncan said the issue of storm-water management has indeed been brought before the Commission many times. He agrees the ponds are an “ugly hazard,” but feels other options would be expensive and time-consuming for the city to consider.

“I’m personally not in favor of the retention ponds,” Duncan said, “but we would have to backtrack to create other drainage options.”

Thomas said other drainage options would be expensive, but constructing and maintaining existing retention ponds would be cost effective and aesthetically pleasing. “Ninety percent of surrounding communities such as Roswell have large retention ponds,” Thomas said, “and they are landscaped and maintained well.”

Haynes said she hopes concerned citizens will attend the study session to learn more about the ordinance and why it was adopted.

Haynes said she expects a public comment session will be included during the work session, which will also include presentations related to options for managing storm-water runoff.

Meeting watch

What: City Commission
When: 5:15 p.m. Thursday
Where: North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Public Library.
On tap: Study session related to storm-water runoff will get under way about 6 p.m.