Stormwater picks up excess dirt, oil, fertilizer and other pollutants when it runs over paved surfaces.
That same year, the commission discussed the first round of stormwater utility funding. In September of 2005, Coffey told the commission that a roadway ditch needs to be replaced on West Jefferson and explained how quickly the street floods.
The ditch had just begun to be dug out last spring, residents say, but work stopped when cold weather set in.
"Those houses and that street specifically have the worst scenario. It's a defined channel down through there, like they're living on a creekbed," Coffey said.
"Their street was built at a time when the developers had opportunities to take advantage of the rules," Coffey said, referring to certain building codes pertaining to run-off water.
Coffey said the area behind Grey's house is a major watershed, and it's not a small drainage area. Grey gets a lot of standing water in his yard, somewhat due to the house behind his that has pipes coming out on both sides.
A main stormwater line put in on Grey's property line did not help either because the area is not graded properly, Coffey said.
"We had to stop the project (at West Jefferson) at 2,000 feet because we had $200,000 budgeted for it. The engineer made a couple of assumptions, and when he came back with the final report, he said it will be a $400,000 project," Coffey said. "We told him to get started with this."
Moving forward in a new direction
Coffey believed the city had a direction with stormwater improvements when he came on as city engineer in 2001. He hopes that after the new budget is passed, the attack plan will be well defined and well understood.
"Sure, there has been a lack of communication, or maybe the wrong kind," Coffey said.
Danville had to apply for a stormwater permit, as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
"We have legal obligations that had to be met," Coffey said.
"Residents feel like they are getting more and more water, but in reality their surface water is filled up with silt," Coffey said.
He said the volume of the water has not changed.
If the commission gives the go-ahead after the budget is finalized, he said the phase of the project that includes the West Jefferson Street area will be advertised for bids in January, with a completion date set for winter of 2009.
The current city commission inherited the doings, or lack thereof, of the former commission, but Coffey realizes that does little to help residents.
"In my opinion, I think the federal government has indicated that the tax system in place is not capable to generate the money we need to support stormwater (rehabilitation projects). So you have to put another system in place to maintain the infrastructure," he said.
Unless a city commission can have the "political courage to address the plight of stormwater, it's not going to happen," Coffey said.
Pipes wear out, and the commission has to figure out how to pay for repairs. "But I will give them credit, they've set it up methodically. They've said, 'Let's get our permit and get compliant with what the federal law is first,' which is more than we can say for some other cities who have gone through this," Coffey said.