REGIONAL STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM AND STORMWATER USER FEES

LCWSA - South Williamsport - Duboistown

In January 2020, Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority (LCWSA), South Williamsport, and Duboistown entered into an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement to work together to develop a Regional Stormwater Management Program (SMP) and ultimately share in the costs associated with the program and achieve compliance with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System or MS4 permit, regulated by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). 

Several key elements have been ongoing over the past nine months and include:

  • the combined Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan (CBPRP) for a regional, cost sharing approach to achieve compliance with state and federal mandates, and
  • the implementation of a Stormwater Utility Fee for both Boroughs.

The growing, complex, regulatory obligations related to MS4 permits and the pollution loading reduction requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Initiative have created an opportunity to work cooperatively and cost effectively to address the permit requirements and water quality.  An updated CBPRP will soon be available for public comment - followed by resubmission to PADEP for final approval.  Together, the partners await word on a grant application submitted to PADEP in December to offset costs associated with the projects needed to meet the Chesapeake Bay Initiative requirements.

The Stormwater Management Program includes not only permit requirements, but also infrastructure and management costs to assure compliance and sustainability of the boroughs’ stormwater management systems and program.  This approach to stormwater utility management requires a dedicated funding source to assure the unfunded federal and state mandates are met together with addressing stormwater infrastructure systematically and  locally through maintenance and capital improvements.

LCWSA has been tasked with the implementation of a stormwater utility fee to fund the Regional Stormwater Management Program on behalf of both boroughs.  

The basis of the stormwater fee is the square feet of impervious surface area on each property.  Impervious area (IA) is a surface that prevents infiltration of water into the ground and includes but is not limited to roofs, patios, garages, driveways, storage sheds, and similar structures.  Stormwater utilities across Pennsylvania have utilized this methodology as a fair, equitable, and uniform mean of assessing user fees since it is a quantifiable indicator of the area of a property from which stormwater runoff originates and impacts the stormwater infrastructure system.

The stormwater fee is applicable to all properties regardless of tax-exempt or non-profit status.  The stormwater fee will begin in July of 2020 and will be included on sewer bills where applicable or billed individually to the property owner where a sewer account does not exist or, in some cases, when the property owner is not billed directly for sewer charges.  A separate stormwater fee charge will appear on the LCWSA bill in July because it is distinctly different from the sewer charge.

To develop the stormwater user fees, Chesapeake Conservancy Land Cover Data was obtained through Lycoming County and evaluated parcel-by-parcel to determine the impervious area of every parcel in both Boroughs.  All of the parcels within both Boroughs were then grouped into a single, 5-Tier schedule, based on the impervious area of the parcels and based on a parcel with 2,480 square feet of impervious area statistically representing 1.0 Impervious Area Unit (IAU).     

Tier 1 through Tier 4 capture the majority of parcels, with each Tier having a specific range of impervious area and an associated IAU or billing unit; ranging from 0.5 IAU to 2.0 IAU.  Tier 5 includes parcels with 6,000 square feet or more of impervious area and the IAU will be calculated directly on the basis of 2,480 square feet of impervious area for 1.0 IAU or fraction thereof.    

The stormwater user fees established for each Borough are not the same, as the “Level of Service” proposed to be provided by each Borough as a part of the Stormwater Management Program and the number of IAUs available for billing by each Borough are significantly different.  With known costs for engineering, management, administration, capital improvements and ongoing maintenance work for each Borough; the user fees were expected to be based on the 2020 Stormwater Budgets of both Boroughs and for LCWSA, and set forth as follows: 

Rate District:       Borough of South Williamsport - $10.00 per IAU per month

Rate District:       Borough of Duboistown - $15.00 per IAU per month

However, after much discussion as to the best approach under the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, a COVID Credit will automatically be applied to all fees for the 2020 calendar year which will result in a 50% reduction per District:

Rate District:             Borough of South Williamsport - $5.00 per IAU per month - COVID CREDIT

Rate District:             Borough of Duboistown - $7.50 per IAU per month - COVID CREDIT

 

REGIONAL STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM FEE STRUCTURE

(With COVID Credit)

Tier

Tier Impervious Area (IA) Range in Square Feet (SF)

IAU (Impervious Area Unit or billing units)

 South Williamsport -Stormwater User Fee per month

Duboistown - Stormwater User Fee per month

0

0-399

No Charge (de minimis)

No Fee

No Fee

1

400 - 1,599

0.5

$2.50

$3.75

2

1,600 - 3,399

1

$5.00

$7.50

3

3,400 - 4,199

1.5

$7.50

$11.25

4

4,200 - 5,999

2

$10.00

$15.00

5

6,000 and greater

2.5 or greater - Calculated (1 IAU = 2,480 SF)

(IA/2,480 SF) X $5.00

(IA/2,480 SF) X $7.50

(Note – The MS4 Permits of both boroughs require specific projects to be completed over a five-year period in order to meet compliance.  In order to fund these projects within the time period of the permit, the COVID Credit expires as of 12/31/2020.)

Overall, 90% of the properties fall within Tier 1 through Tier 4, with most (51%) of the properties falling in Tier 2.  The remaining 10% of properties are in Tier 5.   Although the number of Tier 5 properties are notably less, those properties (with larger amounts of Impervious Area) make up over 45% of the total IA and will contribute to 40% of the anticipated revenue.

The Boroughs are faced with unfunded federal and state mandates and with continued maintenance of and capital planning for the stormwater infrastructure - consisting of approximately 176,000 linear feet of gravity stormwater mains, 7,500 linear feet of open channels, 1,720 inlets, 280 manholes, and 85 outfall/discharge points.  The transition to a stormwater user fee is necessary for compliance, investment in infrastructure, and program sustainability.  

The challenges with COVID-19 have forced a reprioritization of tasks and projects to align with the reduction in anticipated revenue.   With no relief on MS4 permit requirements and no extension given for implementation of Chesapeake Bay pollution reductions, the program implementation continues to move forward to avoid unnecessary penalties and violations.

The collaborative, regional approach continues to have advantages in both the short and long term:

  • overall cost sharing,
  • gain economies of scale,
  • streamline regulatory requirements,
  • eliminate duplication of services,
  • enhance opportunities for grants and loans, and
  • a more cost effective and equitable approach for compliance on behalf of property owners.

Additional information can be found on LCWSA website at lcwsa.net or by calling LCWSA at 570 546-8005.

 

LCWSA Contacts: (877) 546-8005 - Christine Weigle, Executive Director or John Bickhart, Engineering Services Manager

Borough of South Williamsport: (570) 322-0158 - Steve Cappelli, Borough Manager

Borough of Duboistown: (570) 323-3646 - Ann Marie Baker, Borough Manager