You might not think about it every day, but as residents of and visitors to Indianapolis, the City's water systems touch our lives daily. In fact, the quality of our water is one of the largest determinants of health and safety within the City. Storm water plays a major role in the cleanliness of our waterways, the safety of our neighborhoods and liveliness of our business districts. The need to protect and conserve this valuable resource, while improving the infrastructure continues to grow as we do.
The City estimates the value of the storm water system at approximately $1.1 billion. The system includes miles of storm sewer and ditches, inlets and other structures, two dams and miles of flood protection levees, and serves approximately 300,000 customers in Marion County.
Poor drainage and flooding occur in neighborhoods for several reasons. During rain events in Indianapolis, storm water runs off rooftops, parking lots, city streets, driveways and other surfaces into the City's storm water drainage system. Many parts of the City lack adequate storm sewers and drainage, leading to standing water in yards and flooded streets and basements. Also, some home and business owners do not maintain inlets and gutters, ditches, swales and creeks on their private property, preventing these drainage systems from removing storm water from neighborhoods to local waterways
Stormwater Drainage Responsibilities Brochure
Many Indianapolis neighborhoods encounter chronic flooding in streets and yards. There are an average of 20,000 storm water related complaints filed each year, highlighting the need to improve our storm water system.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) maintains a Storm Water Master Plan to address flooding and drainage problems in neighborhoods across the county, as well as required compliance for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The plan prioritizes problem areas in order of severity. Also, DPW continues to design projects to help alleviate flooding in several areas by integrating natural solutions to flooding, such as rain gardens and pervious pavement into storm water and transportation projects.
In the late 1990's, the City developed a Storm Water Master Plan to identify project-by-project storm water needs throughout Marion County and subsequently established a storm water utility fee to generate the capital funding required to address drainage issues, improve the overall water quality and protect our valuable storm water system assets. The drainage, water quality and economic benefits resulting from storm water programs would not be possible without the user fee that is currently assessed to all property owners in Marion County. The current user fee of $2.25 per month was approved in 2005. This fee is well below the amount required to meet the current storm water drainage and water quality needs in the community.
In 2012, the Marion County Storm Water Management District (MCSWMD) identified more than 380 flooding or drainage problem areas throughout the county ... that's an estimated $320 million in storm water infrastructure needs. Without additional funding, DPW will not be able to address many of the storm water problems. The Storm Water Master Plan has been updated and includes $81 million in storm water project that will address the highest priority problem areas through 2018.