Columbia County's stormwater utility fee is coming to fruition with the first two major county projects set to begin.
Already, officials say the county has undertaken some minor stormwater issues, such as streambank enhancements, using the funds from the monthly homeowner fee, but now the county has determined its top two major projects.
The first projects to receive funds will be in Springlakes subdivision in Martinez and in the Ridge Crossing development, off Wheeler Road near Belair Road in Martinez, commission Chairman Ron Cross said.
"We finally decided that those two are the first priorities for the money we had," he said, adding that both have had flooding problems.
"These projects are in the $600,000 to $800,000 apiece range. And we've got money to do two of them, and we're going to try to set the other priorities before too long."
Mr. Cross said the stormwater utility fee, which for an average homeowner costs about $4 a month, has netted the county about $2 million. He said about $900,000 will go toward the Ridge Crossing project, near Funsville.
"There's going to be an increase in the retention pond around Funsville and then some other pipe work in the neighborhood there," he said.
He said about $700,000 would be granted to the Springlakes project, which he said involves an area between two lakes.
The county's public works committee is considering future projects, he said, adding that any leftover funds could go toward those.
"I imagine Westlake and William Few Parkway will be the next two," Mr. Cross said, referring to a pond in Westlake subdivision that officials say no longer maintains its full water capacity, causing flooding that occurs in some homeowners' front yards on William Few. "They're the next two highest priorities."
Chuck Dickson, a resident of West Lake and member of the West Lake Country Club's board of directors, went before county commissioners Tuesday night to say the issue with Bowen Lake in West Lake should be a front-burner topic, worthy of funding.
"It really does cause neighbors of West Lake great concern," he told commissioners.
In the past, the stormwater fee caused some concern of its own, with some residents upset at having to pay the fee, which went into effect nearly six years ago.
Mr. Dickson said he can see both sides, but in the end, he said, he feels the fee is a good thing.
"There's a good side and a bad side to everything," he said. "And when you pay taxes, if you're benefitting directly from it, it's great. And if you're not, it's not so great. But I think it makes a very effective use of money and one that people, once they see it being used for what it's being used for, are appreciative of it."
Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115 or email@example.com.