What is stormwater?
Stormwater is water originating from a rain event or snowmelt. Stormwater runoff occurs when the ground is unable to absorb all of the water. Impervious surfaces (such as buildings, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, roads, and even compacted gravels and soils) prevent most of the runoff from infiltrating into the ground. As such, the runoff is often directed into physical drainage systems (such as catch basins), and then discharged into local rivers, streams, and other water bodies.
Why does stormwater need management?
As the stormwater runoff flows, it picks up pollutants (such as fertilizer, oils, salt, sediment, and trash), carries them into those drainage systems, and eventually into our local water bodies. These pollutants can cause algae blooms among other aesthetic, health, and environmental issues. Unlike wastewater, stormwater runoff is often untreated or only pretreated before they are discharged into our local water bodies. Therefore, it is very important that we work as a community to keep our stormwater clean.
How does the Town of Shrewsbury manage stormwater runoff?
The Town of Shrewsbury uses a written Stormwater Management Plan (“SWMP”), created with guidance from the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (“MS4”). From the SWMP, Shrewsbury works to implement best management practices (“BMPs”) for stormwater runoff such as cleaning catch basins, and street sweeping.
On May 2007, Article 21, the Stormwater Management Bylaw, was approved by Town Meeting to set up the authority and enforcement of the prohibition of illicit discharges into our MS4 (discharges that are not entirely comprised of stormwater), and to provide the framework for the utility fee and stormwater management permit.
On July 2018, the MS4-2016 Permit went live and, on October 2018, the Town of Shrewsbury submitted their Notice of Intent for the permit and is waiting for approval by the USEPA.
On February 2019, the Board of Sewer Commissioners adopted the Stormwater Management Rules & Regulations found here. The Rules & Regulations provides the framework for the Stormwater Utility Rates for properties within the Town of Shrewsbury and the Stormwater Management Permit on any activity disturbing equal to or more than 5,000 square feet.
How can I prevent stormwater pollution?
No matter who we are – be it a resident, business, developer, or an industrial facility – there is plenty that we can do to keep common pollutants out of our stormwater.
Spring - Fertilizing the Lawn
Fall - Leaves and Water Pollution
Why are we implementing a stormwater utility? Haven't we always been managing our stormwater?
As part of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to preserve, protect, and improve the Nation’s water resources from polluted stormwater runoff, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) promulgated the 1987 Stormwater Phase I Rule, which required operators of municipal separate storm sewer systems (“MS4s”) in urbanized areas, using National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permits, to implement programs and practices to control stormwater runoff. These operators include the City of Boston, and City of Worcester.
The Stormwater Phase II Final Rule was promulgated in 1999 and included additional operators of MS4s to further reduce adverse impacts to water quality and aquatic habitat by instituting the use of controls on unregulated sources of stormwater discharges. Under the Phase II rule, all MS4s with stormwater discharges from Census-designated-Urbanized-Areas are required to seek NPDES permit coverage for those stormwater discharges. These additional operators include the Town of Shrewsbury as well as over 200 communities within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
On May 1, 2003, EPA Region 1 issued its Final General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Small MS4s (“MS4-2003 Permit”) consistent with the Phase II rule. This permit expired on May 1, 2008, but remained in effect until operators were authorized under the MS4-2016 Permit, which became effective on July 1, 2018.
Both of the MS4-2003 and MS4-2016 Permits are unfunded federal mandates with the MS4-2016 Permit being far more comprehensive and demanding than the previous MS4-2003 Permit, requiring operators to bolster and provide additional services to their stormwater management program, including:
- Bolstering its public education and outreach program for residents, businesses, developers, and industrial facilities;
- Detecting and eliminating illicit discharges (discharges to the MS4 that are not comprised entirely of stormwater);
- Developing and implementing a program to inventory, evaluate, map, and annually inspect/maintain all municipal stormwater treatment structures including outfall/interconnections, catch basins, detention basins;
- Managing stormwater runoff during and after construction or land alteration activities;
- Bolstering its good housekeeping practices including the number of street sweepings per year, a catch basin cleaning optimization program, and winter road salt minimization program;
- Developing a stormwater pollution prevention plan ("SWPPP") for all municipal properties; and
- Developing and implementing a lake phosphorus control plan ("LPCP") to minimize pollution due to phosphorus to local water bodies.
The Town estimated the average cost to comply with the MS4-2016 Permit to be $1.75 million per year for the first 5 years, and recognizes that a dedicated stormwater funding source is needed to comply with the extensive requirements.
Who pays the stormwater utility fee?
All properties (including municipal, tax-exempt, vacant, residential, and commercial properties) will pay the stormwater utility fee.
How much am I being charged?
All properties will be charged a fee based on their total impervious area. Impervious area, as defined in Section 4 of the Stormwater Management Rules & Regulations, is any material or structure on or above the ground that prevents water from infiltrating the underlying soil. This includes roads, paved parking lots, sidewalks, walkways, rooftops, pools, decks/porches, sheds, and areas with compacted dirt/gravel. While impervious, public streets and sidewalks will not count against a property owner’s impervious area for the purposes of determining their tier and annual rate.
The Stormwater Utility Rates can be found here.
For reference, about 90% of single-family homes will qualify under Tier 1 ($90/yr, or $7.50/mo), and single-family homes make up for about 80% of all properties within the Town of Shrewsbury.
How can I estimate my impervious area?
Property owners can estimate their impervious area using the Shrewsbury MapsOnline website and using the Measure Area tool. You may also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries regarding your impervious area.
Can I receive credit against the Stormwater Utility if I manage stormwater on my property?
The Town of Shrewsbury offers up to a 50% credit against the fee for property owners who undertake specific actions that exceed the minimum requirements of any applicable stormwater management guidelines including the Zoning Bylaw, Subdivision Rules & Regulations, Stormwater Management Rules & Regulations, and Wetlands Protection Act.
The Stormwater Management Credit Application is located here.
What happens if I have been billed incorrectly?
The Town of Shrewsbury offers a Petition for Adjustment to ensure accurate billing of the Stormwater Utility Fee. You can submit a Petition for Adjustment to the Department of Public Works, with supporting documents, if:
- There was an error in billing amount (e.g. incorrect tier, approved credit applied incorrectly);
- There was an error in calculating your impervious area (e.g. deck with pervious ground underneath, a building was demolished and the area is now grass, entire/portion of impervious area on property is related to an easement);
- The identification of the property owner was invoiced in error (e.g. change in ownership, closings); and/or
- Other similar circumstances.
The Stormwater Utility Petition for Adjustment can be found here.
What if I still have questions?
You can review the Stormwater Utility Frequently Asked Questions to see if your question has already been answered. Otherwise, you can contact the Department of Public Works - Engineering Division by e-mail email@example.com, by phone at 508-841-8502, or at the 2nd Floor of the Richard D. Carney Municipal Building on 100 Maple Avenue, Shrewsbury MA, 01545.
The former MS4-2003 Permit is located here.
The current MS4-2016 Permit is located here.
Article 21, the Stormwater Management Bylaw, is located here.
The Stormwater Management Rules & Regulations is located here.
The Stormwater Utility Rates is located here.
The Stormwater Utility Credit Policy is located here.
The Stormwater Utility Frequently Asked Questions is located here.
The Stormwater Management Application Review & Inspection Fee is located here.
The Stormwater Utility Credit Application is located here.
The Stormwater Utility Petition for Adjustment is located here.
The Stormwater Management Permit Application is located here.
Each year, the Town of Shrewsbury is mandated to submit an Annual Report to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”) on their progress with any stormwater management best management practices (“BMPs”) and goals.
The Stormwater Management Plan will be located here, when available.
The MS4-2016 Notice of Intent and Annual Reports will be located here, when available.
The MS4-2003 Notice of Intent and Annual Reports are located here.