Borough council approves stormwater agreement

South Williamsport Borough Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority and DuBoistown Monday night to support growing demands of stormwater regulations.

The entities will now work in a cooperative manner to tackle the hefty and costly stormwater management mandates, which are unfunded but required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The agreement signed gives the project manager, the authority, the ability to help these boroughs to identify cost-sharing methods.

Millions upon millions of dollars for engineering and construction were not possible without the agreement.

These stormwater projects would otherwise be impossible to pay for with engineering and construction costs related to helping to reduce nutrients and to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, as required by federal unfunded mandate, according to Steven W. Cappelli, borough manager.

“This will help to reduce costs for each property owner rather than us alone,” Cappelli said.

“While working with both DuBoistown and South Williamsport on their municipal separate storm sewer system, or MS4, the authority found them both on similar paths,” said Christine Weigle, authority executive director.

The pathway is to now bring about a stormwater department budget. The spending plan would be for administrative and capital costs related to stopping the flooding seen in the borough, officials said.

There will be a public hearing on the process that would require a fee for the average homeowner to pay to help fund the stormwater department budget, Cappelli said.

The average homeowner or ERU — equivalent residential unit — fee would be established as would an intergovernmental cooperative agreement in 2020, he said.

“It will be as cost-effective as possible,” Cappelli said, adding his appreciation for the neighboring borough’s approval of the memorandum.

It is not a question of whether it will be done, but rather how, according to Weigle.

“The borough’s MS4 permits have been issued and each municipality must reduce sediment loading by 10 percent,” Weigle said.

The sediment loading and corresponding nitrogen and phosphorus must be reduced as mandated by the Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plans, she said.

Not only will the cooperative effort fulfill the reduction requirement but it will provide “life, resiliency and establish by ordinance the stormwater department and its budget,” according to Cappelli.

The window is closing quickly and the plan is to enact a fee by no later than July 1, he said.