As Provo grows, so does its runoff problems.

The amount of rain normally soaked up in a rural community is a runoff problem in a city. Rainwater from the surfaces of parking lots, roofs and sidewalks runs downstream.A house that has stood years without a flooded basement can flood when areas at a higher elevation develop excessive runoff.

To correct the water problems that already exist in parts of Provo and to help prevent future flooding, the city proposes to build a comprehensive storm drain system.

The system will cost an estimated $19 million, said Assistant City Engineer Greg Beckstrom. To build and maintain the system, a storm water utility service district will be created.

The new service district would function much like other city utilities, Beckstrom said. Each property owner would pay a fee, estimated at no more than $2.75 per household each month. Commercial buildings, apartments and other large structures would be assessed on a scale of equivalent housing units. For example, if an apartment building produces as much run-off as 20 houses, then the apartment would pay 20 times more.

"When you're in the fourth year of a drought, you have to be something of a visionary to prepare for floods," said Raylene Ireland, administrative assistant to Mayor Joe Jenkins.

In the flood years of 1983 and 1984, the Provo area sustained millions of dollars in water damage, Ireland said. A storm drain system helps channel runoff to prevent damage.

The capacity of the proposed system would prevent flooding in a 25-year storm, City Engineer Nick Jones said. In the Provo area, the amount of water dropped in a 25-year storm is about two and one-half inches. Those kinds of storms are only expected about once in 25 years.

Without a storm drain system, much less water causes damaging runoff. Provo City is already using resources to help clean up runoff problems in certain parts of town.

Provo will hold four public information meetings in January to give residents a chance to comment on the proposed system. After the meetings, there will be a formal notice of a public hearing. It is tentatively scheduled for April.

If the storm drain proposal is adopted by the Provo City Council after the public hearings, then the Provo City Storm Water Service District will be created. The new assessment may appear on utility bills as early as July.

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Public meetings

Jan. 8 - Maeser School, 150 S. 500 East, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 10 - Westridge School, 1720 W. 1460 North, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 15 - Timp View High, 3650 N. 650 East, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 17 - Sunset View School, 525 S. 1600 West, 7:30 p.m.