Stormwater Management is the control of rain water runoff before it ends up in Leesburg’s lakes, streams, and wetlands.
As stormwater flows across streets, parking lots, and roof tops, it picks up pollutants such as leaves and trash, oils and grease, dirt and chemicals (fertilizer and pesticides). These pollutants end up in our surface waters unless they are cleaned up first. The City of Leesburg is cooperating with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to improve the quality of stormwater discharged to the Palatlakha River and Lakes Griffin and Harris.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was required by Congress in 1997 to develop regulations for stormwater discharges to surface waters of the US. In response, the EPA adopted the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The EPA delegated to the FDEP the authority to regulate stormwater discharge from municipalities in the state of Florida, including the City of Leesburg. The City operates under a Generic NPDES Permit, which requires the City to develop and implement a Stormwater Management Program with the goal to reduce the discharge of pollutants to surface waters to the "maximum extent practicable" and protect water quality.
An NPDES Stormwater Management Program must contain six main elements in order to comply with the NPDES permit. The program elements are expected to collectively reduce pollutants discharged into the City’s surface waters.
As the City grows and more homes are built, stormwater management regulations play an integral part of ensuring that news homes are not subject to routine flooding. Regulations are enforced that require new homes to be built outside of the flood zone. These regulations were not always in place and many older homes within the City were constructed in flood prone areas. The City is preparing a Stormwater Master Plan to evaluate ways to reduce flooding within the city, while improving water quality to comply with regulatory requirements.
Stormwater management is an expensive burden on small cities. Citizens of cities throughout Florida, including Leesburg, have voted for a stormwater utility fee to help fund stormwater projects, including construction of new systems, maintenance and repair of existing systems, and purchase of equipment such as street sweepers. This fee is a dedicated fund that pays for specific stormwater services for the citizens of Leesburg and as such is no different than a sewer utility or water utility fee.