AP NEWS

WVSA Hosts Information Session On Controversial Stormwater Fee

December 14, 2018

PLYMOUTH TWP. — Edward Kozik doesn’t know why his Plymouth Twp. property has to be part of a new stormwater program organized by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority when he doesn’t use the authority for anything else.

“I have no sewers, no nothing. The water comes off the roof and I’m charged for it,” said Kozik.“That’s ridiculous. So do something about it.”

“Sir, we are,” said William Finnegan Jr., the authority’s solicitor. “We’re saving you money.”

To explain, look back to 1983.

That’s when several governors and other officials created the Chesapeake Bay Program to address pollution flowing into the bay. The agreement has been updated a few times since then, and now a mandate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires municipalities with stormwater that eventually drains to the bay to reduce sediment pollution by 10 percent, phosphorus pollution by 5 percent and nitrogen pollution by 3 percent.

That’s where the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority comes in.

Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection asked the authority to consider overseeing a regional effort to meet the mandate as EPA increased its enforcement, Finnegan said.

WVSA is the administrator of the effort to meet those requirements for more than two dozen Luzerne County municipalities. Some Dallas-area municipalities have opted to organize through the Dallas Area Municipal Authority.

That regional approach saves money compared to a strategy in which each town tried on its own to meet the rules, Finnegan said. Instead of each municipality paying for the infrastructure and other initiatives they must fund under the program, they each pay the authority.

That was the situation in Plymouth Twp., Supervisor Gale Conrad said. The township pays $3,000 to be part of the program, rather than the $20,000 or more it would have paid to meet the regulations on its own.

“Why should we spend 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars or more to do this on our own, and at the end of the day, the folks still have to pay?” she said.

For most homeowners, that fee will be $4.80 a month, which is based on the amount of impervious surface on their property.

Despite the township’s rural character, it’s considered part of an urbanized area according to the U.S. Census, said Jeff Colella, WVSA stormwater division manager. That means it must meet the EPA requirements.

One man at the meeting asked if the implementation could be delayed, given President Trump’s administration has proposed major rollbacks for rules protecting waterways. but Finnegan said WVSA officials have been in discussion with officials at DEP and have received no indication that this program could be affected.

As the authority prepares to issue its first bills in January, property owners have received notices explaining the program and letting them know a bill is coming.

The authority has also been holding information meetings, like the one on Thursday. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Hanover Twp. municipal building, 1267 Sans Souci Parkway.

Contact the writer:

bwellock@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2051, @CVBillW

FEES

A fee schedule from the WVSA shows most homeowners would pay about $58 more per year for the program. Property owners could qualify for credits for doing things like installing green roofs or stream buffers. The fees are based on the amount of impervious surface on a property:

• Property owners with fewer than 100 impervious square feet wouldn’t be charged.

• Between 100 and 500 feet, the monthly charge would be $1.

• Between 500 and 7000 feet, the monthly charge would be $4.80. That’s the price most residents would pay.

• More than 7000 feet, property owners would pay $1.70 per 1,000 square feet.

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