Proposed Stormwater Utility Fee
In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency implemented Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Regulations (called MS4) across the entire United States. These unfunded mandates require the Township to be responsible for the water quality of natural streams within its boundaries. This includes the installation, operation, and maintenance of all storm drains, ditches, pipes, and conveyances that carry stormwater to our streams, rivers, and lakes.
Up to this point, the Township has been able to absorb the cost and labor associated with an extensive Stormwater Management Program, which includes the following Minimum Control Measures:
1. Public Education and Outreach
2. Public Involvement and Participation
3. Illicit Discharge and Detection
4. Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
5. Post Construction Stormwater Management
6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
Each of the Minimum Control Measures has multiple regulations that the Township must follow. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection conducts audits of every municipality to make sure they are in compliance.
In 2018, new regulations were implemented requiring the Township to have a Pollution Reduction Plan to reduce its sediment and total phosphorous from entering the streams by 10 percent over the next 5-year permit cycle. To accomplish this task, the Township must install new facilities to control and filter the stormwater runoff before it enters the streams.
With the cost anticipated to reach several hundred thousand dollars to stay in compliance with these regulations, Municipalities will be forced to find a new funding source without raising taxes. For this reason, the Township is proposing to implement a Stormwater Utility Fee. The stormwater fee is a service fee like water, sewer, gas and other vital utility services. The purpose of the fee is to provide a sustainable dedicated revenue source for maintaining, operating, and improving the stormwater management system, including installing best management practices to improve stormwater quality.
For Residential: The proposal is to charge a flat fee of $3.50 per month per Residential Unit. This proposal is lower or comparable to many of the surrounding western communities.
For Commercial/non-residential: Properties will be assessed by the square footage of impervious surface area such as driveways, parking lots, and roof surface. Credits will be applied for properly maintained private stormwater management facilities. Tax exempt properties, such as churches and schools, will also pay the fee. Vacant land properties will not be required to pay the fee.
Polluted stormwater runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people. Stormwater management offers tremendous rewards to local economies, the environment, and the quality of life. Working together we can help protect our local water resources.
Pennsylvania abounds in natural beauty, its landscape entwined with 83,161 miles of streams and more than 3,900 lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Water is the lifeblood of the Commonwealth, supporting vast forests, abundant fish and wildlife, and a wide array of human uses that draw more than four billion gallons of ground and surface water per day. This wealth of water is a blessing, but population growth has radically altered the natural systems that manage rainfall through transpiration, infiltration, and gradual runoff into surface waters—leading to everything from poor water quality to flooding, severe erosion, and droughts.
When the amount of rain falling exceeds the land's ability to absorb it, the result is stormwater runoff. The volume of runoff and rate at which it flows varies with the intensity and duration of the rainfall—and with the type of land surface upon which it falls. A short light rain falling on permeable soils might produce little to no runoff, while heavy rain landing on an impervious parking lot can produce a substantial amount.
Without treatment, most of the stormwater that runs from the land into our waterways is unhealthy for people and bad for the environment. Runoff can carry chemicals, metals, bacteria, viruses, organic compounds, and other pollutants directly into creeks, lakes, rivers, and streams. And, stormwater runoff can cause severe erosion and flooding—even during a typical Pennsylvania storm.
Acknowledging the problems stormwater can create has forced us to take its management more seriously than ever before. We’re working to preserve natural cycles and find innovative ways to mimic the environmental functions that existed before we disturbed landscapes with buildings, farmlands, parking lots, and roads.
The solution lies in comprehensive stormwater management, which offers tremendous rewards to local economies, the environment, and quality of life. The information in this section will outline Findlay Township's commitment to best management practices and explains the responsibilities of the Township, land owners and residents in maintaining our Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, which was granted to Findlay Township by the Pennsylvania DEP.