Stormwater fees are coming this summer. Read on...
On January 15 of 2019, the Board of Sewer Commissioners will vote on a Stormwater Utility Rate Structure. Read on...
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 November 2018, the Board of Sewer Commissioners held a public hearing to discuss the Draft Stormwater Management Rules & Regulations found here (updated January 10, 2019). 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.
- Stormwater Pollution Prevention Guide for Homeowners
- Do your "Doody" - Pick Up Your Pet Waste!
- Leaves and Water Pollution
Why do we have a stormwater utility?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("USEPA") created the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), which prohibits anyone from discharging pollutants through a point source into a water of the United States unless they have a permit through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES"). The NPDES permit contains limits what a permittee can discharge, requirements to monitor and report their activities, and additional provisions to ensure that activities do not hurt quality or the health of the people.
As part of the Stormwater Phase II Final Rule, over 200 communities in Massachusetts, including Shrewsbury, are required to obtain NPDES permits and develop stormwater management programs ("SWMP") to manage their stormwater discharges into local water bodies. The NPDES permit was first issued in 2003, and was later updated in 2016 (but went live in 2018). The new permit (“MS4-2016 Permit”) is significantly more comprehensive and demanding than the former permit (“MS4-2003 Permit”), and the Town is mandated to undertake additional responsibilities 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 maintain all municipal stormwater treatment structures including outfalls, catch basins, and detention basins;
- Managing stormwater 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
- Implementing a lake phosphorus control plan ("LPCP") to minimize pollution due to phosphorus to local water bodies.
The MS4-2016 Permit is a unfunded federal regulation, and the Town of Shrewsbury estimated an average annual budget need of $1.75 million per year over the next 5 years. In order to comply with the demands of the MS4-2016 Permit, the Town of Shrewsbury is implementing a Stormwater Utility Fee where all of the revenue will be dedicated to compliance with the permit, and other related stormwater activities and programs.
Who pays the stormwater utility fee?
All properties including municipal, tax-exempt, 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 impervious area. Impervious area is defined as any material or structure on or above the ground that prevents water from infiltrating the underlying soil. This includes (but is not limited to) concrete, asphalt, compacted dirt/gravel, rooftops, walkways, pools, sheds, and decks/porches.
A draft of the Stormwater Utility Rates can be found here (updated January 10, 2019). Most properties qualify for Tier 1 (impervious area equal to or less than 5,000 square feet), who will be charged a $90 annual rate.
How can I estimate my impervious area?
Property owners can estimate their impervious area using the Shrewsbury GIS website found here and using the Measure Area tool.
How can I receive credits on my bill?
The Town of Shrewsbury offers up to a 50% credit against the fee for property owners who undertake specific actions to go beyond what is minimally required in reducing the impact of stormwater runoff within the Town's MS4. A draft of the Stormwater Management Credit Policy can be found here.
The MS4-2016 Permit is located here.
Article 21, the Stormwater Management Bylaw, is located here.
The proposed Stormwater Management Rules & Regulations is located here (updated January 10, 2019).
The proposed Stormwater Utility Rates is located here (updated January 10, 2019).
The proposed Stormwater Utility Credit Policy is located here.
The proposed Stormwater Application Review & Inspection Fee is located here (added January 10, 2019).
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.