Over the past 10 years, the town has evolved into an urbanized community. As this development occurred, the town's stormwater infrastructure also expanded. With the construction of more impervious surface areas (buildings and paving) the town's stormwater system has advanced from surface type drainage to an urbanized underground network of inlets, debris separators, drainage pipes, and outfalls.
The larger surface drainage systems that have remained (creeks and streams) have endured more flow with greater velocities, resulting in needed repairs, maintenance, and investment. As with any utility system, long term operation is sustained by system maintenance that in the past had no revenue source and has largely been deferred.
In addition to system maintenance and stormwater quality management, the town has identified capital improvement needs within the existing system. These are common in all stormwater systems and typically result from increased upstream flows, lack of maintenance in the stormwater system, updated flood studies, and other related items.
State & Federal Mandates
Additionally, pending state and federal mandates require Little Elm to obtain a stormwater permit and manage, regulate, and enforce stormwater quality. As cities grow in population and density, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) require those urbanized areas to be responsible for stormwater quality. This is one of many unfunded mandates local municipalities experience as their population increases.
Stormwater Program Evaluation & Funding Study
In May 2010, the Town Council approved a task order for a Stormwater Program Evaluation and Funding Study with Freese & Nichols, Inc. The need for this study was first discussed by the Town Council at a December 2009 workshop. Staff presented the results of the stormwater study to the Council at a July 2011 work session. The assessment involved:
- Capital improvement projects needed for stormwater
- Development reviews (drainage ordinance, subdivision ordinance, site plan review process)
- Infrastructure inventory (topography, stream studies, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain, geographic information system (GIS) data, and storm sewer lines)
- Operation and maintenance
- Public outreach
- Regulatory compliance (Phase II MS4 permitting, hazard mitigation plans, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) / Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) erosion control actives, floodplain management)