Exeter updates storm water drains after 46 years

The Exeter City Council approves the city’s updated storm water drain master plan after a year of analysis and improvement planning

EXETER – After nearly 50 years, the city of Exeter updated their storm water drain master plan, which came just weeks before the county experienced deluge.

City manager Adam Ennis said that there was a full hydraulic analysis update completed for the city’s storm water drain master plan this month. After a year of being in the works, the masterplan was finally approved at the last city council meeting on March 14.

“You want to get [updates] done frequent enough so that you know what you have for your storm system,” Ennis said. “[It helps] you know how it will perform. You also will know where problem areas are, or where plan on working and build funding up for.”

There was a small update done on a few documents for the masterplan back in 2009, but the entirety of the masterplan had not been updated since 1977. Ennis said that they began working on the masterplan after receiving grant funding which enabled them to do a full analysis for future projects. Currently, all improvements that the city has analyzed would cost roughly $36 million to complete. Ennis said that this would be done over the course of years. However, if there are any future grant funding opportunities available, the city will pursue them.

Luckily for the city, Ennis said the current storm water system has been efficient in mitigating flooding, even amid the storms that are currently hitting the valley. Even though the master plan has not been updated in years, the city has still made improvements to their storm water drains within the last few years.

“The one thing that’s been interesting through all these storms is we really haven’t had much of any damage in town,” Ennis said. “We fared pretty well. We had a couple of streets that got flooded on Friday, but they didn’t get to any houses.”

This was not the only masterplan update the city has done recently, though. They also updated their water system master plan two years ago. Not only that, but they are also in the process of updating their sanitary sewer master plan as well.

“I’ve been trying to grab a lot of old documents and get them updated so that we know what we’ve got going forward,” Ennis said. “It helps not only our work that we do, but also when development comes in they know where they can connect at and how to make the systems work.”

Though Ennis does not know the exact reason why the city waited so long to update the masterplan, he suspects it could be due to a lack of funds. The city does not have a set fund for stormwater. Instead, they have a development fund, but that only allows them to expand the storm drain system, not improve it.

This update was a long time coming, too. Throughout the process of updating the masterplan, Ennis said that engineers found outlets that city staff didn’t even know about.

“We found out a few things that no one here knew about,” Ennis said. “From my understanding, we wouldn’t have found [those things] without the hydraulic analysis.”

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