Major stormwater projects planned

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Kalispell has some major stormwater projects planned for the next fiscal year.

Another $300,000 in stormwater drainage improvements is slated for South Meadows in summer 2014, repairing ditches and culverts in public right of way along Bluestone, Darlington and Garden Way.

The neighborhood had about $700,000 of stormwater drainage improvements last summer. That work focused on repairing failed ditches and culverts along Meadows Drive and Belmar Drive.

In some cases, the ditches had been filled in deliberately for roadside parking.

“We are going to do this improvement but with that the residents are going to have to do their own due diligence and make sure the ditch stays open and the culverts stay open,” Public Works Director Susie Turner said.

In an area of high groundwater, the South Meadows project also installs stub-outs from the drainage ditches for residents to connect their sump pumps and eaves troughs and channel that water away from their homes.

An estimated $512,000 in improvements are planned for the Willows. That project will upgrade an inadequate stormwater detention pond and discharge pipe that was approved by the city but does not meet its standards.

Because of the oversight, Kalispell agreed to pitch in about half of the project’s costs. Residents there agreed to form a special improvement district to pay for the rest.

An estimated $200,000 project will improve stormwater drainage on Ninth Street East between Fourth and Sixth avenues.

The project also will mill and overlay the deteriorated stretch of road. “It’s a big project, but we’re going to combine it with streets so we can get that whole area fixed,” Turner said.

Public works is budgeting to purchase a new vacuum jet truck for $325,000 next fiscal year. Crews use the truck to clean sanitary sewer wells and storm sewers. The new truck would replace a 19-year-old vehicle.

The department also plans to spend $42,000 on a new street sweeper. A grant from the Montana Air and Congestion Initiative covers the rest of that cost.

New stormwater programs also are in the works.

Later this year, Turner plans to propose a cost-share program that would help businesses meet stormwater treatment requirements that can arise when parking lots are resurfaced.

“What triggers it is disturbance of 5,000 square feet,” Turner said. “So if you’re going to overlay or mill and overlay your existing parking lot and it’s greater than 5,000 square feet, that triggers water quality treatment.”

The stormwater treatment requirement — which also applies to new construction — is part of the city’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit. Treatment can mean measures such as filtration devices, rain gardens or bioswales to remove oil, sediment and other contaminants from stormwater before it runs off site. All of those add to the cost of a routine paving project.

If approved by the City Council, the program would cover up to half of the cost of stormwater treatment compliance measures, at least up to a certain amount, depending on how much money is made available.

“I put in $10,000 or $15,000 for a pilot deal to see how it can work,” Turner said.

Kalispell’s stormwater fund gets most of its revenue from property tax assessments the city charges each year. Stormwater impact fees paid by new development make up the second-largest revenue source.

Kalispell’s water and sanitary sewer impact fees remain bogged down in a review process that has dragged on for more than two years without resolution. Stormwater impact fees also have not been reviewed or adjusted since 2008 despite Montana law that requires impact fees to be reviewed and adjusted every two years.

Kalispell’s stormwater fund is projected to end 2013-14 with $1.3 million. That includes $445,000 in operating cash, $657,921 in impact fee cash, $140,000 in capital reserves and $25,000 in emergency reserves. Those reserves are in line with policy targets set for them.

Reporter Tom Lotshaw may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at

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