Funding Options Considered for $1M Stormwater Upgrades

Get daily Westford text alerts by subscribing here.

If you value this free news please consider making a donation to WestfordCAT through: paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1659975.

Utter the word “stormwater” and eyes glaze.

But Town Engineer Paul Starratt is trying to educate anyone who will listen on the necessities of replacing the town’s drainage system. Streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and wetlands are all vulnerable to pollutants carried by water runoff, as paved areas expand and there’s less spongy earth to soak it up.

The federal government enacted the Clean Water Act in 1948 and amended it in 1972. It falls under the management of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Back in 2003 the town was required to get a permit from the EPA in order to discharge stormwater,” said Starratt.

Communities were required to manage the runoff, said Starratt, and meet certain requirements, such as educating the public; creating ordinances for stormwater management and illicit discharge (done in 2008); and paying attention to erosion and runoff.

Collins said there are four options for funding the infrastructure improvements: a fee based on the amount of impervious surface on privately owned property; a surcharge of up to 3 percent assessed on each property; a permanent or short-term tax hike requiring approval of an override of Proposition 2 1/2, a state law limiting property tax increases to 2.5 percent plus new growth; or a combination of a fee and tax.

“The number that we are looking for to stay in compliance is on the order of $1M a year…,” Starratt said.

“The smaller home or the less impervious surface on a property might be a $45 a
year fee. An average home would be about $75 dollars a year, and larger impervious area on a residential property would be about $113,” Collins said, adding she and Starratt will appear before selectmen on May 28.