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Storm water runoff problem calls for emergency fix

The Hudson City Council approved $28,886 in repairs to Walnut Street at its June 19 meeting.

The contract was awarded to Zappa Brothers without advertising for bids because council members were afraid that another storm might cause even more damage to the street than the one that collapsed about a 25-by-10-foot segment of pavement and sidewalk.

"We believe we have an emergency situation on our hands," Council President Scot O'Malley, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said in recommending that the city ask Zappa Brothers to proceed with the work.

A written proposal to the city from Zappa Brothers indicates a 250-foot stretch of Walnut on the hill between Fourth and Sixth streets will be repaired.

Mayor Jack Breault said the money for the repairs will come from the city's 2006 contingency budget of $58,000.

In a related matter, council members briefly discussed establishing a storm water management utility that would charge property owners for the runoff they create.

O'Malley indicated that the Public Works Committee is considering the possibility of establishing a storm water utility because of the increase in drainage problems in the city caused by more asphalt and buildings covering the land.

Council members had a letter from Angela Popenhagen of BRA & Associates, the city's consulting engineers, explaining the reasons for the utility and how it would work.

Her letter was accompanied by photographs of flooding on Hudson streets and alleys - including the intersection of Third and Locust streets, Nye Street and Aldrich Avenue, and the alley between Fourth and Fifth streets.

Flooding increases pollution of rivers and lakes, Popenhagen said, because water picks up oil, pesticides and other pollutants when it flows across streets and lawns.

The monthly utility fee would pay for the operation, maintenance and capital improvements of the city's storm water system, she wrote.

"...The fairest way to pay for storm water management is to charge property owners for the amount of storm water generated based upon the use of the property," she wrote. "This is similar to the philosophy that residential, commercial, institutional and industrial customers should pay for their water, waste water, solid waste, electric and gas service based upon their relative use of these utility systems."

Popenhagen added that a stable source of revenue for storm water drainage would improve the service the city can provide.

She told the council at the June 19 meeting that River Falls, New Richmond and Eau Claire already have storm water utilities.

Also on June 19, the council authorized advertising for construction bids on a storm sewer project serving the Menards store and the Hanley Green town homes. The estimated $80,000 project will be funded by impact fees.

The council has been holding off on costly projects to correct drainage problems elsewhere in the city where impact fees aren't available to pay for the repairs.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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