Springetts proposes water quality fee for stormwater management

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Chesapeake Bay Foundation intern Myrannda Kleckner collects a water sample at Willow Mill Park on the Conodoguinet Creek in Cumberland County this summer. CBF’s study of polluted runoff found elevated levels of bacteria in some southcentral Pennsylvania waterways.

Springettsbury Township took steps Thursday toward implementing a new water quality program that would impose a fee on property owners to fund sediment reduction projects mandated by the state and federal governments.

The goal of the projects is to help the township comply with all aspects of the Clean Water Act as administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"The regulations have not been changed, modified or gone away," said Benjamin Marchant, township manager. "We are under a requirement to do it."

The township has been developing the program for about three years, Marchant said.

Property owners would be charged $60 each year for every 3,000 square feet of impervious surfaces on their property, under the proposed fee structure. The revenue would fund improvement projects and ongoing maintenance to meet the water quality requirements.

Under the proposal, the first bills would be sent to property owners on May 1, 2020.

On Thursday, the township's board of supervisors voted 4-0 to approve a $1.9 million contract with AKRF Inc. for stream bank restoration and stabilization to reduce sediment deposits by 697,000 pounds, which is the benchmark required by the Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Program.

Under the terms of the contract, AKRF will complete the stream bank work for about $586,000. The remaining contract costs will cover stream bank maintenance and adjustments for the first few years as the new vegetation takes hold.

The board also voted 4-0 to approve a $38,342 contract with Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. to integrate the township's existing mapping software for more efficient calculation of fees based on each property's impervious surface area.

"I just want to reiterate that the opportunity now to deal with something that is being forced on us, at this price, I think is an opportunity that we cannot pass up," said Supervisor Charles Wurster. "The pricing is much lower than what we ever thought about, and that's the reason why I support this opportunity to get this going."

Supervisor Robert Cox was absent.

The York County Planning Commission proposed establishing a similar program in 2018 by creating a countywide stormwater authority, but there wasn't enough public support, so the York County Board of Commissioners never took it up for a vote.

Springettsbury's proposal is modeled after a similar program in Derry Township, Dauphin County, said Jessica Fieldhouse, director of community development in Spingettsbury Township.

The board discussed the contracts for nearly two hours before taking the vote.

At the next supervisors meeting on Oct. 24, the board will discuss and potentially adopt the water quality program budget. On Nov. 13, the board is expected to vote on the ordinance for the program.

Township residents who want to give public comment should attend one or both of the next two meetings, Marchant said.