Understanding Stormwater Regionalization




WVSA Stormwater Management Vision

Aging stormwater infrastructure and increasing regulatory obligations are placing an increased burden on municipalities in the Wyoming Valley Region. A stormwater authority through WVSA provides opportunities for streamlined regulations, economies of scale, strategic partnerships and a more equitable distribution of costs amongst property owners benefiting from stormwater service.

Initially, WVSA will serve as the MS4 Permit Administrator for municipalities within its service area and provide regulatory support through the following services:

  • Preparation of a Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan (PRP) and Watershed Based PRPs 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
  • 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.

Increasing Regulatory Requirements

As the result of The Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 1983, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated the governance of stormwater and reduction of pollutants entering the Chesapeake Bay. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ensures affected municipalities satisfy these mandates through the imposition of Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) permits, first issued in 2003. New requirements of the 2018 MS4 Permit include the following:

  1. Implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) by 2023 to reduce sediment pollution from each municipality by 10%, phosphorus by 5% and nitrogen by 3%.
  2. Implementation of BMP’s by 2023 to reduce pollution in the drainage area of impaired waterways in each municipality.
  3. Complete Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Planning and impaired water pollution reduction planning by September 2017.
  4. Complete mapping of stormwater infrastructure for use in developing PRP’s.
  5. Complete Pollution Control Measure (PCM) mapping and analysis (related to acid mine drainage and priority organic compounds)
  6. Develop adequate staffing and funding to complete the above items while continuing to implement the six Minimum Control Measures, and submit annual Status Update Reports.

MS4 permits are renewed in five year cycles. It is assumed that requirements of the permit will continue to increase in future years and will be supported via WVSA. Current permit requirements are an unfunded mandate which would place a significant strain on municipal budgets.

Benefits of Regionalization

Regional stormwater management enables watershed based planning and implementation; a more holistic solution to stormwater management problems at a fraction of the cost.

  • 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% sediment, 5% phosphorus and 3% 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.

 The region will experience additional savings as economies of scale are realized in tackling MCM’s, and fixed administrative costs are spread over a larger number of property owners. In future years, a regional approach to existing infrastructure operation, maintenance and improvements will yield even more cost savings.

Cost Effective Stormwater Management Solutions

The initial cost for a municipality in the Wyoming Valley Region to implement the proposed stormwater management program on their own is at least double, and in some instances significantly more, than the cost of a regional approach. In considering operation, maintenance and improvement costs relative to stormwater over the next 20 years, municipal leaders can save their community over 1/2 the cost by opting into WVSA’s regional approach.

Relying on general tax revenue for stormwater improvements isn’t practical for most communities. WVSA’s stormwater management fee will provide a steady, dedicated revenue stream for  stormwater improvements, allowing municipal leaders to redirect tax revenue to other needs of their municipality.

Equitable Funding of Stormwater Needs

Stormwater fees charged directly to property owners fairly apportion cost of stormwater service to properties benefitting from the service. Fees are based on a property’s impervious area which better correlates to the quantity or quality of stormwater runoff leaving a property, as compared to assessed property value. Fees are charged to all property owners of developed parcels, even tax exempt users. The result is an additional savings to residential property owners, as high as 57% in WVSA’s service area, when compared to paying for stormwater through taxes.

WVSA anticipates commencing stormwater fee billing in mid- 2018. The fee for an average residential property is estimated to be $3.00 – $4.50 per month. Fees will be set through a rate study completed following the development of impervious area estimates.

Strategic Partnerships

WVSA is partnering with key stakeholders in the region to implement stormwater solutions at a reduced cost. Initial stakeholders include:

  • Luzerne County Flood Prevention Authority (FPA) – Collaborating with the FPA to implement BMPs is a strategic opportunity to treat stormwater runoff in a centralized location, and yields significant cost savings compared to implementing small BMPs throughout the municipalities.
  • United States Amy Corps of Engineers (USACE) – WVSA is entering into a partnership with the USACE to provide long term, multi-year grant financing in the form of technical assistance related to storm sewer mapping, infrastructure analysis and condition assessment. The partnership includes a 50/50 cost share, enabling the Authority to perform services at a reduced cost than if the municipalities were to do so individually.
  • PA DEP DEP sees WVSA’s approach to regional stormwater management to be a strategic and forward thinking solution to improve water quality for a fraction of the cost, while reducing the burden placed on individual municipalities. DEP requirements in order for a municipality to participate in WVSA’s regional Pollution Reduction Plan include entering into an Intermunicipal Cooperation Agreement with WVSA and sharing in plan preparation costs, set by WVSA to be $3,000 per municipality.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.         Why has the importance and cost of stormwater management increased?

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with regulating stormwater pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA). Portions of the stormwater requirements of the federal CWA are administered under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) Program. As part of their 2018 MS4 permit, municipalities in the Wyoming Valley Region a faced with new unfunded mandates, requiring them to spend considerably more money over the five year permit cycle than ever before to improve water quality, both local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

2.   What aspects of stormwater have to be addressed to meet these new regulations?

Municipalities are required to complete pollutant reduction planning (PRP) and implement Best Management Practices to reduce pollution loadings entering local waterways and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. Over the 2018 MS4 Permit term (2018-2022) municipalities will be required to reduce sediment by 10%, phosphorus by 5% and nitrogen by 3%. In order to complete the PRP, municipalities must have the separate storm sewer systems mapped. Additional Pollution Control Measures (PCMs) much be completed by thirty municipalities in WVSA’s service area relative to mapping, testing and analysis related to acid mine drainage and priority organic compounds.

3.         How can the 2018 pollution reduction requirements be met?

Requirements to reduce pollutants are met through Best Management Practices (BMPs). BMPs are used to protect water quality, enhance water availability and reduce flooding potential through effective stormwater management. Examples of structural BMPs include, but are not limited to, wet ponds, constructed wetlands, permeable pavement, riparian buffers, and stream restoration.

4.         Who is responsible for undertaking these projects?

Municipalities who are designated as MS4 Permit holders are required to complete all aspects of the permit, unless delegated to another responsible entity, such as a municipal authority.

5.        Why is WVSA involved?

As regulatory requirements and the cost of compliance increase, finding ways to reduce costs through regional collaboration, sharing of resources and economies of scale becomes vital. WVSA will relieve municipalities of the time and expense relative to:

  • Pollution Reduction Planning
  • BMP implementation, operation & maintenance
  • System mapping
  • Impervious area development
  • Pollution Control Measure requirements
  • Various Minimum Control Measures (refer to WVSA Stormwater Management Vision)

The use of WVSA as the regional stormwater authority allows the municipalities to garner efficiencies in the use of a trained staff, equipment and knowledge of  how  to  operate  and manage a regional authority. WVSA has a working relationship with the municipalities, DEP, state legislators and have a proven track record for meeting permit limits and implementing large scale capital improvements driven by regulatory requirements. WVSA may assume an expanded role in the future which includes operation, maintenance and improvements to existing storm sewer systems, along with meeting additional regulatory requirements anticipated in the future.

6.         How will costs be reduced by undertaking a regional approach to stormwater management?

DEP will streamline regulatory requirements for a regional approach, allowing WVSA to site BMPs over a larger geographical area than if a municipality were to tackle pollution reduction planning on their own. This will provide more flexibility for WVSA to site projects on publically available land, and chose BMP’s which provide the greatest pollutant reduction for the lowest cost.

WVSA will also enable the region to benefit from economies of scale and strategic partnerships with entities such as the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority and the USACE, which will provide millions of dollars worth of cost savings to the region over the 2018 permit cycle. The initial cost for a municipality in the Wyoming Valley Region to implement the proposed stormwater management program on their own is double, and in some cases significantly more, than the cost of a regional approach.

As a municipal authority, WVSA has the opportunity to charge stormwater fees, which is a more equitable way to allocate the growing costs of stormwater management throughout the community, based upon benefits received.

7.         What is all of this going to cost?

All stormwater revenue will be placed into a dedicated fund used only for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of stormwater infrastructure. Over the first five years of the program, funds will cover estimated costs associated with the following:

·        Regulatory compliance ($25 million) ·  O&M of BMPs ($1 million)
·        Program administration ($5 million) ·  Stormwater parks ($3 million)
·        Emergency O&M services for municipalities ($8 million)

8.         How will stormwater fees be set?

The fee will be based on the amount of impervious surface on a property (rooftops, parking lots, driveways, etc.) that inhibits infiltration of rainfall into the soil. Single family residential properties will likely be billed a tiered flat rate, while non-residential properties are billed based on the actual amount of impervious surface on their property.

9.         Is there a way for property owners to reduce their fee?

Yes. It is the intent that WVSA’s Stormwater Management Fee Rules and Procedures will allow for credits. Credits are a monthly percent reduction in the Stormwater Management Fee for having and maintaining infrastructure which reduces the quantity or improves the quality of stormwater leaving a property.

10.    What is the anticipated stormwater fee?

All property owners with impervious surfaces on their property will pay a fee. The amount will differ between residential and non-residential properties. The residential properties will likely be billed a tiered flat rate in which one Equivalent Runoff Unit (ERU) is anticipated to be billed $3.00 – $4.50 per month. Non-residential properties will pay a multiple of the ERU based on the amount of impervious surface on the property.

11.         Why is paying a stormwater fee more equitable than property tax?

A stormwater fee based upon impervious area is more equitable because properties that create more stormwater runoff pay more, and properties that create less stormwater runoff pay less. Empirical studies show impervious area provides the best correlation to the quantity or quality of runoff leaving a property; as opposed to assessed property value. In addition, all developed properties contribute stormwater runoff and should pay the stormwater fee; however, some properties are exempt from taxes. The general result is an additional savings to residential property owners of roughly 55% – 75% in paying for stormwater management through a fee as opposed to a tax.

12.      When can I expect this fee to be enacted?

Implementation of billing is expected to occur in mid-2018 to early 2019.

Acronym Key


BMP Best Management Practice
CWA Clean Water Act
DEP Department of Environmental Protection
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
ERU Equivalent Runoff Unit
FPA Flood Prevention Authority
MS4 Multiple Separate Storm Sewer System
O&M Operation and Maintenance
PCM Pollution Control Measure
PRP Pollutant Reduction Plan
USACE United Stated Army Corp of Engineers
















2018 Budget

 2018  BUDGET
Operating Emergency Svs. Tax Liquid Fuels Capital TOTAL
 Beginning Balance 386,895 53,400 294,600 734,895
 Real Estate Taxes Cur Yr 101,585 101,585
 Real Estate Taxes Tx Claim Bureau 7,500 7,500
 Real Estate Taxes – Emergency Svs. 101,585 101,585
 Real Estate Transfer Taxes 105,000 105,000
 Earned Income Taxes 395,000 395,000
 Earned Income Taxes-Prior 70,000 70,000
 Mercantile Taxes 850,000 850,000
 Mercantile Taxes – Prior Year 60,000 60,000
 EMS Tax 265,000 265,000
 EMS – Prior Year 35,000 35,000
 Mechanical Device Tax 19,000 19,000
 Vendor Permits 200 200
 Contractor Registration 3,600 3,600
 Cable Television Franchise 31,600 31,600
 Court 10,000 10,000
 State Police Fines 1,500 1,500
 Vehicle Code Violations 500 500
 Fines-Probation 1,000 1,000
 Interest-Bank Checking 7,000 8,000 15,000
 Rent-Buildings 6,000 6,000
 DEP Grant Curbside  Recycling 29,600 29,600
 Foreign Fire Ins Prem Tax 23,000 23,000
 Liquid Fuels Allocation 140,400 140,400
 Alcoholic Bev Licenses 1,600 1,600
 Other Shared Revenue 5,000 5,000
 Payments in Lieu of Taxes 2,000 2,000
 Gas Tax Refund 4,500 4,500
 Municipal Service Tax 32,000 32,000
 Game Commission Lands 1,500 1,500
 Community Development Grant 110,000 110,000
 Multi Modal Grant 453,230 453,230
 Inter-Governmental Revenue-Misc Pa Grants 5,000 5,000
 Pittston Twp. Sewer Authority 14,400 14,400
 State Pension Allocation 51,000 51,000
 Planning & Zoning 2,000 2,000
 Police Accident Reports 3,000 3,000
 Building Permits 220,000 220,000
 SALDO & Conditional Use 3,000 3,000
 Permits – Other 2,500 2,500
 Sign Tax 10,000 10,000
 Bag Sales 8,000 8,000
 Recreation – Rental of Pavilion 1,700 1,700
 Miscellaneous Revenue 10,000 10,000
 OPERATING REVENUE 2,384,885 101,585 140,400 585,630 3,212,500
 FUNDS AVAILABLE 2,771,780 101,585 193,800 880,230 3,947,395
 Supervisors 5,625 5,625
 Administrator 10,000 10,000
 Salary – Elected Auditors 1,500 1,500
 Salary-Treasurer 5,000 5,000
 Manager 75,000 75,000
 Salaries-Constable 100 100
 Salaries-Clerks Gen’l Gov’t 42,550 42,550
 Salary-Secretary 9,000 9,000
 Open Records Office
 Longevity 3,750 3,750
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 12,800 12,800
 Health Insurance 21,480 21,480
 Drug/Medical Reimbursement 6,300 6,300
 Computer Services 4,200 4,200
 Municipal Retirement 5,125 5,125
 Supplies 4,000 4,000
 Postage & Mailing 1,500 1,500
 Maintenance Contracts 1,800 1,800
 Payroll Service 3,400 3,400
 Communication Expense 3,700 3,700
 Advertising & Printing 2,700 2,700
 Dues & Subscriptions & Other Prof. 2,200 2,200
 Small Tools/Minor Equipment 3,000 3,000
224,730 224,730
 Wages – Tax Collector 3,600 3,600
 Payroll Taxes 275 275
 Tax Collectors Commissions 22,425 22,425
 Printing 1,700 1,700
 Miscellaneous & Refunds 1,500 1,500
 Tax Collectors Bond Premium 125 125
29,625 29,625
 Legal – Solicitor 6,000 36,000
 Auditing Services 5,200 5,200
 Professional Services 7,500 7,500
48,700 48,700
 Cleaning Service 3,500 3,500
 Payroll Taxes 390 390
 Building Expense 3,500 3,500
 Building Service Contracts 2,000 2,000
 Public Utility Services 6,000 6,000
 Capital Expenditures 10,000 10,000
15,390 10,000 25,390
 Salaries – Liason 5,000 5,000
 Salaries-Full Time Officers 186,540 186,540
 Salaries-Part Time Officers 60,920 60,920
 Inter-Governmental Revenue-Misc Pa Grants 5,000 5,000
 Court Pay 4,000 4,000
 Police Clerk 16,370 16,370
 Cleaning Service 3,500 3,500
 Longevity 8,575 8,575
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 26,450 26,450
 Health Insurance 63,770 63,770
 Drug/Medical Reimbursement 4,000 4,000
 Officers Life & Disablilty 3,000 3,000
 Computer Services 5,000 5,000
 Retirement Contributions 850 850
 Supplies 2,000 2,000
 K-9 Expense 2,500 2,500
 Communication 6,000 6,000
 Dues & Subscriptions 1,000 1,000
 Miscellaneous 1,500 1,500
 Meetings & Conferences 500 500
 Small Tools/Minor Equipment 5,000 5,000
 Service Contracts 3,500 3,500
 Clothing  Allowance 4,475 4,475
 Utilities  10,000 10,000
 Vehicle Maintenance 8,000 8,000
 Vehicles Gas, Oil, Etc 10,000 10,000
 Police Pension Plan – Act 211 65,500 65,500
 Professional Services 2,500 2,500
 Capital Purchases 30,000 8,000 38,000
541,950 11,500 553,450
 Salaries – Bryden St. – Full Time 58,050 58,050
 Salaries – Bryden St. –  Part Time 82,660 82,660
 Payroll Taxes 12,150 12,150
 Salaries – Suscon  – Full Time 58,050 58,050
 Salaries – Suscon  – Part Time 82,660 82,660
 Longevity 6,275 6,275
 Payroll Taxes 12,150 12,150
 Health Insurance 29,870 29,870
 Drug/Medical Reimbursement 4,000 4,000
 Retirement Contributions 3,850 3,850
 Clothing Allowance 3,800 3,800
 Volunteer Fire Co Allocation  19,000 19,000
 Debt Retirement 11,585 11,585
 Volunteer Fire Co. Insurance  13,000 13,000
 Contributions-Firemens Relief 23,000 23,000
 Professional Services 5,000 5,000
 Hydrants 36,000 36,000
 Suscon Utilities 12,500 12,500
 Capital Purchases 10,000 10,000
430,515 43,085 10,000 483,600
 Reimbursement – Ambulance  Fees 35,500 35,500
 Reimbursement of Expenses 5,000 5,000
 Reimbursement – EMT Staff 25,000 10,000 35,000
 Professional Services 5,000 5,000
 Contributions-Ambulance Assoc 17,000 17,000
40,500 47,000 10,000 97,500
 Salary-Zoning Officer 38,470 38,470
 Permit Manager 6,000 6,000
 Meetings 300 300
 Longevity 1,250 1,250
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 4,070 4,070
 Health Insurance 34,905 34,905
 Drug/Medical Reimbursement 1,500 1,500
 Retirement Contributions 1,960 1,960
 Sub Contractor Inspector 110,000 110,000
 Solicitor – Zoning 1,500 1,500
 Solicitor – Planning 1,500 1,500
 Advertising & Printing 1,300 1,300
 Small Tools/Minor Equipment  500 500
 Transcription Services 1,000 1,000
 Vehicle Maintenance 1,200 1,200
 Professional Services 1,800 1,800
 Supplies 500 500
207,755 207,755
 Salary-Em Mgt Coordinator 1,750 1,750
 EMS – Personnel 750 750
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 190 190
2,690 2,690
 WVSA & LLSA Sewer Reimbursement 119,500 119,500
 Pittston Twp. Sewer Reimbursement 10,870 10,870
130,370 130,370
 Recycling Coordinator 9,500 9,500
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 730 730
 Composting Fee  2,500 2,500
 Retirement Contributions 475 475
 Recycling Contract 49,000 49,000
62,205 62,205
 Refuse Salaries 1,000 1,000
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 115 115
 Bag Purchases 27,000 27,000
 Contracted Services-Refuse 173,700 173,700
 Other Services & Charges 1,500 1,500
 Building Repairs & Maintenance 7,500 7,500
 Refuse Postage & Mailing 3,000 3,000
 Recycling Building Utilities 7,000 7,000
220,815 220,815
 Roadmaster 20,000 20,000
 Highway  131,390 131,390
 Longevity 6,875 6,875
 Health Insurance 71,550 71,550
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 13,970 13,970
 Rentals Equipment/Other 2,500 2,500
 Engineering Services 4,500 4,500
 Drug/Medical Reimbursement 6,000 6,000
 Retirement Contributions 4,925 4,925
 Communication Expense 1,500 1,500
 Clothing Allowance 2,025 2,025
 Vehicle Maintenance 19,000 19,000
 Vehicles Gas, Oil, Etc 11,000 11,000
 Major Equipment Purchase
    Loader 110,000 110,000
    Road Master Vehicle 10,000 10,000
 Salt & Cinders 60,000 60,000
 Traffic Signals 12,500 12,500
 Street Lighting 68,900 68,900
 Street Signs & Makings 4,000 4,000
 Equipment  Repairs & Maint 6,000 6,000
 Repairs to Roads 20,000 20,000
 Small Tools/Minor Equipment 3,000 3,000
 Streets & Roads 17,500 17,500
    Freeport 193,800 453,230 647,030
    Baker/Chapel 72,000 72,000
    East Railroad St. 110,000 110,000
    Salt Shed 95,000 95,000
 Repairs & Maint.-Storm Sewers                     15,000 15,000
502,135 193,800 850,230 1,546,165
 Salaries-Parks Staff 1,800 1,800
 Payroll Taxes-Employers 1,175 1,175
 Pavilion Expense 2,500 2,500
 Park Maintenance
   Labor – Grass Cutting 8,700 8,700
   Supplies 2,500 2,500
   Tru Green Fertilization 4,000 4,000
 Recreation Board Expenses 15,000 15,000
 Insurance – L League Programs 2,500 2,500
 Capital Projects – Little League 2,000 2,000
 Equipment Maintenance 3,500 3,500
 Utilities 7,500 7,500
 Special Projects 3,000 3,000
 Capital Expenditures
54,175 54,175
 Auto 19,000 19,000
 Law Enforcement 9,900 9,900
 Law Enforcement Deductible 10,000 10,000
 Public Officials Deductible 25,000 25,000
 Public Officials Liability 43,000 43,000
 Property Insurance 6,870 6,870
 Workers Compensation 90,000 90,000
 General Liability 22,000 22,000
 Insurance & Bonding 500 500
 Inland Marine 1,585 1,585
 Terrorism 1,600 1,600
 Crime 270 270
229,725 229,725
 Health Insurance 24,500 24,500
 Drug Reimb 6,000 6,000
30,500 30,500
 TOTAL EXPENDITURES 2,771,780 101,585 193,800 880,230 3,947,395