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NORMAL — You'll need another $5 or so in your monthly household budget this summer if you live in Normal.

Businesses, Unit 5, Illinois State University, Heartland Community College and churches will need to dig even deeper than that — potentially thousands of dollars each year for some large properties.

A new storm water utility fee is expected to go into effect as early as July, Public Works Director Mike Hall, but the additional costs might not stop there.

Residents building homes may be required to install an overhead sewer service at a cost of about $700 and to file an erosion control plan for their property.

All of the measures are an effort by the town to meet federal mandates for cleaner storm water, Hall said.

The storm water utility fee alone is expected to bring in about $1.8 million each year. The town will use the money to repair eroded creek beds, buy a street sweeper, offer a grant program for homeowners in flood-prone areas, and hire additional employees.

Bloomington has had a storm sewer utility fee for a year. Hall said an estimated 700 communities throughout the nation have implemented the fee to meet the federal mandates.

The Normal City Council hired Clark-Dietz Inc. of Champaign to help determine the utility fee structure. Unlike Bloomington's tiered fee structure, Hall said Normal probably will have a flat rate for single and two-family structures.

"The revenue stream doesn't change much and the billing costs are higher with the tiered structure," Hall said.

Residents likely will pay about $4.60 a month, he said. The fee would be tacked onto the bimonthly water bill.

Owners of other structures, such as businesses, churches and schools, would pay a fee based on the amount of hard surfaces on the property. More storm water rolls off hard surfaces, such as roofs, parking lots and sidewalks.

"The roll-off is what the charge will be based on," Hall said. That could be thousands of dollars each year for some large properties.

Hall said representatives from some of those types of properties will be invited to a meeting next month to discuss the costs and determining factors. An advisory group of some of those same representatives will meet three or four times to help determine the rate structure.

Normal residents will have a chance to review information about the storm water utility tax in the future, Hall said.

The Ecology Action Center also is developing projects to educate residents on what they can do to help clean up the water going into storm sewers, said Julie Elzanati of the center.

One project involves cleaning litter around creeks and stenciling storm drains to remind residents the water ends up in creeks and rivers.

"We want to help residents become aware that littering is one of the main causes of the problems," Elzanati said. "It clogs up storm drains causing flooding. It (the litter) always has to go somewhere; it doesn't automatically disappear."

The center offers a water cycle education program for third graders and has a Yard Smart program that recognizes environmentally friendly yards.

"We want to raise awareness of water quality," Elzanati said.


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