Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority Takes Leadership Role In MS4 Stormwater Program To Save Communities More Than 50% In Compliance Costs

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority has been providing wastewater treatment services for residents of Luzerne County since 1962. WVSA’s service area includes 35 municipalities from Harveys Lake to Pittston to Newport Township.
Not only is the Authority managing upgrades to deal with its combined wastewater and stormwater sewer system, it has proposed a new role for itself in serving as permit administrator to comply with the MS4 Stormwater pollution prevention program for its member municipalities.
As of June 22, the Authority has heard from only one of the 36 communities who said they do not want to join the regional program.  Two other municipalities--  Dallas Borough and Dallas township have said they plan to join another multi-municipal efforts lead by the Dallas Area Municipal Authority.
Under its program, the Authority estimated the cost to property owners would be from $36 to $54 per year or $3 to $4.50 per month, depending on the impervious area on a property.  This estimate is more than half the cost of complying with the requirements if the communities went on their own.
The Authority will take the responsibility for--
-- Preparation of a Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan (PRP) and Watershed Based PRPs to reduce sediment pollution from each municipality by 10 percent, phosphorus by 5 percent  and nitrogen by 3 percent for submission by municipalities to Department of Environmental Protection (due September 2017).
-- Design, implementation and ownership of Best Management Practices (BMPs) outlined in the PRP (implementation of BMPs must be complete by March 2023).
-- Operation and maintenance of BMPs installed by WVSA.
-- System-wide mapping of separate stormwater infrastructure (including Pollution Control Measures (PCMs) included as part of Appendix A and Appendix C of various MS4 permits held by individual municipalities).
-- Completion of all efforts necessary for municipalities to comply with Minimum Control Measures (MCM) #1(Public Education), #2 (Public Involvement) and #6 (Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping).
-- Completion of mapping activities and regional training for municipal staff related to MCM #3 (Illicit Discharge Detection)
-- Development of standard ordinances relative to MCM #5 (Post-Construction Runoff Control).
-- Provision of emergency operation and maintenance support to municipalities relative to separate storm sewer system operation.
-- Provision of funding to municipalities to support repair, rehabilitate and replace existing stormwater infrastructure, or the implementation of local BMPs (currently assumed to be $10/year/ERU).
-- Development of two to four regional stormwater parks in the Wyoming Valley Region.
-- Provide documentation to municipalities relative to BMP implementation of MCMs completed by WVSA for use by the municipalities in submitting annual MS4 Status Update Reports. Provide additional guidance to municipalities relative annual MS4 reporting requirements.
Advantages Of Regional Approach - 50% Savings
The Authority notes under a “per municipal” approach to MS4 permit compliance, each municipality would bear the cost of developing their own pollution reduction plans and siting BMPs within their municipality, and within the drainage area of impaired waterways, in order to ensure the required pollutant load reductions-- 10 percent sediment, 5 percent phosphorus and 3 percent nitrogen-- are met.
Under a regional approach in Wyoming Valley, DEP will accept a single Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction plan for all 36 municipalities and six watershed based plans for the Region.
If a municipality were to complete Pollution Reduction Planning and implementation on their own, they are limited to the available land in their municipality and, in many cases, in the drainage area of an impaired stream.
A regional plan provides significant flexibility in that the BMPs may be located anywhere within the watershed.
This provides the opportunity to site and select BMP’s in ways which provide the greatest pollutant reduction for the lowest cost.
In the case of the Wyoming Valley Region, regional Pollution Reduction Planning results in a reduced number of required BMP’s for permit compliance which cuts the average cost per municipality by more than half.
To learn more about the Wyoming Valley’s regional approach to MS4 Stormwater compliance, visit the Authority’s Stormwater webpage.
Other Innovative Approaches
In Lycoming County they have adopted their own local nutrient credit trading program to promote cost effective solutions to nutrient and sediment reduction.  York County has also taken a county-wide approach and created an Integrated Water Resources Plan to comply with not only MS4 Stormwater requirements, but to comply with all Chesapeake Bay and local TMDL impaired stream nutrient and sediment reductions.
The City of Lancaster established a Green Infrastructure Program to install stormwater pollution reduction measures throughout the City.  A similar green infrastructure plan is being finalized by the Capital Region Water Authority for the City of Harrisburg.
The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters Program is now into its sixth year of implementing its green infrastructure program and the City of Pittsburgh is now proposing its own green infrastructure program along with the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Project to promote green infrastructure on a regional basis.
What do all these approaches have in common?  Low-tech, cost-effective best management practices that work to prevent pollution from stormwater and reduce nutrients and sediment getting into our rivers and streams.
For more information on stormwater requirements, visit DEP’s Municipal Stormwater webpage.

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