Stormwater Maintenance

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The City of Abilene Stormwater Utility Division performs maintenance on creeks and drainage ways throughout the City of Abilene. The Division’s goal is to reduce potential for flooding by removing vegetation, debris, and sediment that impedes the flow of water and may increase the possibility of flooding. The Division will strive to ensure that the stormwater runoff that reaches our lakes and drinking water supply is of the highest quality.

 

  • The Stormwater Utility Division will perform maintenance from top bank to top bank across the span of creeks within the city limits of Abilene.  Work by City of Abilene crews will be limited to City owned property or property where the City has right of access. Creeks that will receive maintenance include Elm Creek, Catclaw Creek, Cedar Creek, Little Elm Creek, Lytle Creek, and Rainey Creek.  Maintenance includes the removal of vegetation, debris, and sediment that has accumulated and may impede the flow of water.  Maintenance is not performed exclusively for aesthetic purposes; however, all work will be conducted with regard to reasonable consideration of aesthetics. The Division will not perform maintenance on erosion issues caused by the natural flow of the creeks.  However, erosion concerns that affect the integrity of bridges, stormwater structures, and/or hinder maintenance operations within the aforementioned maintenance area will be addressed by the Division on a case-by-case basis.

    The Division will assess the public interest in all projects or maintenance performed within the boundaries of creeks or waterways.  Maintenance that benefits a significant portion of the community or is conducted to remedy a situation that presents imminent danger to public welfare will hold a higher priority.  Work that benefits a sole property owner and does not present imminent danger to the public welfare will hold a lower priority. 

  • Whereas the City will follow the aforementioned protocol for maintenance within the boundaries of creeks and waterways; property owners have maintenance responsibilities adjacent to these areas.  Property owners are responsible for vegetation maintenance, erosion problems, debris and litter removal, and other real property maintenance from the top bank of a creek or waterway to the curb line of the adjacent street. This includes maintenance, removal, or cosmetic trimming of vegetation on the top bank, erosion caused by the natural flow of the creek, and any debris or litter that accumulates on the homeowner’s property adjacent to the creek. 

    No property owner shall deposit in any creek, drainage way, ditch or any other waterway within the city, any rubbish, filth, construction debris, litter, garbage, grass cuttings or poisonous or deleterious substance or substances liable to affect the health, safety and welfare of persons or aquatic life within or along the waterways.

    Property owners are encouraged to maintain the appearance of areas adjacent to waterways by keeping these areas free of debris, high grass and or weeds, and overhanging branches of trees.

  • The Stormwater Utility Division will practice discretion in removal of vegetation within the working area of the creek.  Vegetation that poses an impediment to the natural flow of the creek will be removed. Other vegetation to be removed includes any loose or dead vegetation, vegetation growing within the high water mark of the creek, vegetation that is at a 45 degree angle or greater suspended over the main channel of the creek, and any other such growth that is determined by the Division to pose a potential impediment to the flow of water.  Additionally, any vegetation that may eventually cause structural damage to stormwater conveyance structures (i.e. bridge structures, surface or subsurface storm drain structures, gabion basket systems, etc.) will be removed at the discretion of the Division.  Generally, the Division will make an effort to leave hard wood trees (elm, oak, pecan, maples, hickories, etc.) that are 6-inches or greater in diameter unless it is located in the creek bed or otherwise increasing the risk of flooding.  

    The Division will not remove or perform maintenance on vegetation such that root systems become damaged and creek bank structures undermined.  In addition, maintenance will not be performed on vegetation that is not causing an impediment to flow or is requested for aesthetic or pest control purposes only.

  • The Stormwater Utility Division will perform mowing operations from top bank to top bank and on any city-owned or right of access property that may be adjacent to the creeks and serves as a drainage way.  Mowing operations are conducted primarily for water conveyance purposes only and not for aesthetic purposes.  Due to the often wet environment in creek areas, and consequent difficulties in equipment operation, creeks and drainage ways are not subject to City Ordinance mowing requirements. However, the Division has taken steps to minimize the occurrence and duration of overgrown vegetation in the waterways. One of the Division’s objectives is to provide a high quality maintenance schedule to the creeks and drainage ways in such a way as to help promote the growth of turf-grass type vegetation such as Bermuda, buffalo grass, fescue, rye, and oats.  Turf grasses require less mowing, promote conditions that will less likely harbor pests and vermin, and are excellent erosion inhibitors.
  • The Stormwater Utility Division will strive to remove debris and litter from creeks and waterways which may pose a detriment to the environment and public health.  Debris removed from creeks may include tree limbs, loose vegetation, solid waste, illegal dump material, construction debris, tires, and any other object or material that otherwise does not belong in a public drainage way.  This debris tends to accumulate at bridges, storm drain structures, bends, and constricted portions of the creek where blockage is likely to occur.  These blockages increase the potential for flooding and can cause damage to stormwater structures.  Following significant rainfall events the Division will utilize a grid system schedule to inspect locations along the creeks for debris that has accumulated.  If debris is discovered to be causing a blockage, the Division will mobilize to remove the material as soon as possible.  Through these efforts, the Division hopes to limit the debris and litter that enters our lakes and poses a threat to water quality.
  • If illegal dumping activity is discovered to be occurring within the creeks and waterways, the Division will coordinate with the City of Abilene’s Environmental Enforcement Officer to locate the responsible party.  The Division will work to remove the illegal dumping debris as soon as possible to prevent the material from being washed down the creek.  However, the responsible party will be held liable for cleanup and disposal costs of dumped material.
  • The Stormwater Utility Division will remove sediment accumulation in creeks and waterways to improve stormwater conveyance and decrease the potential for flooding. Due to federal regulations that protect “waters of the United States” (i.e. Elm Creek, Catclaw Creek, Cedar Creek, Lake Fort Phantom), the Division must exercise considerable caution in the removal of sediment in local creeks.  These regulations often require permits from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineer and prevent the use of steel tracked vehicles and bladed equipment (bulldozers, motor graders, scrapers, etc.) within a creek area. These regulations also prevent the Stormwater Maintenance Crew from deepening creeks below the natural creek bed (excludes the removal of silt), widening beyond the natural banks, and altering the creeks natural flow. 

    Removal of sediment will occur on a rotational basis so as not to disturb extended lengths of the creeks simultaneously.  By reducing the amount of disturbed area in one contiguous location the Division will minimize disturbance of natural wildlife and vegetation occurring in the waterway. The Division will choose several locations within the creek to conduct sediment removal; these locations will be separated by a sufficient length of the creek to not impact one another.  After sediment removal activities have occurred, the Division will seed the disturbed area with a selected turf-grass and provide any necessary sediment and erosion controls.  The Division’s goal is to remove accumulated sediment in creeks to facilitate drainage while preserving the natural ecological environment in the City’s waterways.

  • The Stormwater Utility Division will contact property owners to access the creeks or other water ways when an access point is not available through public property.  The City will negotiate an agreement with the property owner through a “Private Property Use Agreement” to acquire temporary access.  Once within the work area, the City will attempt to notify adjacent property owners along the creek that maintenance will be performed in the given area. However, the City is not obligated to notify property owners as long as the maintenance work being conducted is within the high water mark (normal flow area) of the creek.

  • The City of Abilene’s Stormwater Services Division is committed to providing clean streets as it is an integral part of street maintenance and water quality. Sweeping complies with the regulatory requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act, the municipal (NPDES) permit, and the City’s Stormwater Management Plan. 

    Street sweeping benefits the community by collecting and removing debris (paper, leaves and other visible objects) that collect in the gutters. This debris can block storm water inlets causing localized flooding during heavy rain events along with polluting our local waterways and eventually our lakes. An equally important, but less visible, benefit is the removal of metal particles, oil and other hazardous products left behind by passing and parked vehicles. Although virtually invisible, these particles can be extremely harmful to the environment.

    Residential street sweeping is a City service that operates with three primary objectives:

    • Reduce the amount of pollutants that get into stormwater runoff and pollute our waterways.
    • Prevent leaves, debris and litter from clogging the storm drain system.
    • Provide a clean, aesthetically pleasing appearance to Abilene neighborhoods.

    The street cleaning program sweeps over 1,600 miles of curbed streets within the City of Abilene, including residential streets and major arterial roads. Street sweeping removes approximately 2,000 cubic yards of debris and contaminants annually from the streets that would otherwise remain in the street and eventually end up our waterways.

    Why wasn’t street sweeping completed in front of my house?

    There are many reasons why the sweeper may not have been able to remove debris from your street. Most often, it’s because items such as cars, bicycles, toys, basketball hoops, and refuse containers are blocking the roadway.

    Often times, vehicles are parked too close to each other for the sweeper to maneuver between them (one parked car equals nearly three car lengths of space that can’t be swept because the street sweeping equipment must leave room to avoid it, which can result in debris building up).

    Low-hanging trees and shrubs can also prevent sweepers from cleaning in front of your house. Additionally, the street sweepers cannot remove grass, and the resulting dirt buildup, that is growing in the gutter; if a large amount of grass (clumps) is growing in the curb-line the sweeper will maneuver around this area to sweep areas of the street that can be cleaned.

    How can I help the street sweepers?

    Keeping the roadway in front of your house free of large objects and obstructions is the best way to assist street sweeping crews' clean-up efforts.

    • Remove large sticks and branches from the roadway in front of your house. They will jam and possibly damage the sweeper's operating system.
    • Remove grass or weeds that grow in the gutter. This will reduce debris in front of your house and will improve water runoff during rainstorms.
    • Do not sweep anything into the gutter or street. Blowing leaves, grass, and dirt into the gutter makes it difficult for the sweeping crews to clean the streets and it is a violation of City’s Stormwater Ordinance.  Rake leaves and either compost them, bag them and place in the dumpster, or take them to the City’s Abilene Brush Center located at 2159 Sandy Street off of East HWY 80.
    • Avoid wet cleaning activities which can flush debris into the street and gutters. Utilize dry cleaning methods wherever possible and dispose of debris in an appropriate refuse container.
    • Report abandoned autos to the City's Code Enforcement Division at 325-676-4590.
    • Properly trim your street trees so the sweeper can clean next to the curb. Trees should be trimmed to a height of 13 and one half foot at the curb-line.  This will also allow for easy access of trash pickup vehicles.
    • Organize and/or participate in neighborhood clean ups.
    • Tell your children the benefits of a clean neighborhood and encourage them to dispose of litter properly.

    Why does the City only clean streets with curbs?

    The City cleans only streets with curbs. The accumulation of debris at the curb is caused by the design of the street and vehicular movement. Streets are designed with a crown in the middle sloping toward the sides. Water and debris move toward the curb and gutter areas. Vehicle movement scatters debris to the edges of traffic lanes.

    Streets with no curbs are affected by the same factors as curbed streets, but with no curb the debris is dispersed onto areas adjacent to the paved surfaces. Uncurbed streets are, in effect, self-cleaning. Additionally, street sweeping with no curb and gutter can actually create more problems as the brushes pull the dirt and debris from the side of the street onto the asphalt.

    Why does the City provide limited public notification of street cleaning schedules?

    The City does not currently have the tools to provide citywide time-specific information about our street sweeping schedule. Any attempt to provide a schedule online or through the mail would almost certainly result in a frustrated public because too many factors beyond our control always result in delays to our street sweeping schedule. Some street re-paving projects and some roadway construction projects do provide letters to residents about an anticipated work schedule.

    Therefore, the City uses a zone-rotation concept to ensure all roads within the city limits receive a fair amount of coverage. Sweeper operators rotate through 42 zones (17 on the north side and 25 on the south side), which contain over 1,700 standard lane miles of roads. The amount of debris in each zone dictates the speed at which an operator is able to complete a sector; therefore, it is quite difficult to calculate exactly when a street sweeper will be in your neighborhood. You may monitor the location of the street sweeping crew by using the city's Education/Government Channel available on Suddenlink Cable 2 or Broadcast Channel 7 KXN-TV. Four street sweepers are presently in operation on a full time basis (three during the day and one during the evening). For More Information call 676-6048

    The following factors frequently disrupt our street cleaning rotation:

    • Weather - heavy rainfall, wind storm, snow and ice
    • Equipment breaks down
    • Utility work by other agencies
    • Private construction activities in the public rights of way
    • Other street maintenance and road repair activities
    • Parked cars on both sides of the street
    • How dirty the street is - extra debris in the street delays a crew
    • Overhanging tree limbs that prohibit our crews from getting to the curb to clean a street - sometimes overhanging tree limbs prohibit our equipment from accessing a street
    • Heavy leaf fall
    • Employee emergencies - unexpected absences due to illness, family emergencies, or other emergencies

    In addition, the expense of notification - signage, mailings, barricading - to get vehicles parked on one side or the other of a street is cost prohibitive.