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Hall, Gainesville approve stormwater rule changes
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Update, Nov. 12: The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday, Nov. 12, to approve these changes.


Update, Nov. 3: Gainesville changes stormwater regulations to follow state update 

The Gainesville City Council voted Tuesday, Nov. 3, to update the city’s stormwater regulations to meet permitting standards for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.  

Developers will be required to retain the first inch of rainfall on construction sites, which is intended to reduce runoff. The rule is a requirement for communities to stay permitted as Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, known as MS4s, EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers told The Times in October. Chambers said the deadline for the new rule is Dec. 6.  

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will vote Nov. 12 to update its rules ahead of the state deadline. 

No one spoke at a community hearing Tuesday at the Gainesville City Council meeting. The Council voted unanimously to update the rules, which will go into effect for plans submitted on or after Dec. 6. 


 

Original story: Hall County and Gainesville are both looking to change their stormwater regulations to line up with requirements from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. 

Both are proposing that developers be required to retain the first inch of rainfall on construction sites, which is intended to reduce runoff. The rule is a requirement for communities to stay permitted as Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, known as MS4s, according to EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers. 

Chambers said the deadline to implement the new rule is Dec. 6. 

The previous regulations, which were issued in 2012, did not include requirements for on-site stormwater retention, Chambers said. However, in 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published several documents about the benefits of reducing runoff. 

“In Georgia, the (state manual) was updated with new technical information and best practices that emphasized the benefits of runoff reduction not only for water quality, but also for other water management issues, such as flood management,” Chambers said in an email. “The permit requirements were updated to reflect these new best practices for stormwater management.” 

Hall County held its first hearing on the regulations Oct. 22. No community members spoke, although Commissioner Billy Powell said he wanted staff to look at a new proposal that would still meet state requirements, citing concerns about costs for developers that could trickle down to consumers. Srikanth Yamala, Hall’s planning director, said Friday the proposal had not been changed since Oct. 22. 

Gainesville plans to hold a hearing and vote on its proposal Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 5:30 p.m. at a Gainesville City Council meeting. The meeting, which will be held at the Public Safety Complex at 701 Queen City Parkway, will be the only hearing on the proposal for Gainesville. 

Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, said the regulations will encourage developers to use “green infrastructure” such as landscaping to reduce runoff rather than traditional retention ponds.  

“That really helps the lake and our creeks and our water bodies because it mimics the natural hydrologic process more than what’s currently happening,” she said. “It allows that stormwater to infiltrate into the soil and then slowly make its way back to the creeks and the lake, and that's ultimately what treats it.”