East Lampeter reviews revisions to stormwater rules

East Lampeter Township is considering implementing a new fee to help finance its stormwater management obligations under federal and state law.

Township officials will hold a special public meeting Wednesday night to offer residents a chance to learn about the potential fee, what the township has been doing on stormwater and what it needs to do in the future.

“This program and the requirements have been increasing over the last few years,” East Lampeter Township Manager Ralph Hutchison told LNP.

Residents and businessowners will have a chance to ask questions, including how much they’ll expect to be paying.

While the plan is subject to change, Hutchison says the township is eyeing a stormwater fee depending on the square footage of impervious area on a property.

Impervious surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, brick and rooftops prevent water from soaking into the ground.

For the average residential property, Hutchison expects the bill to run around $20 per quarter, or about $6.66 a month. Different rates will likely affect nonresidential properties.

About 42% of properties in the township have between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet of impervious area.

Municipalities with runoff into streams must apply for an MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permit or an exception as part of the federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.

The cleanup requirements, known as “minimum control measures,” have become more stringent and costly to municipalities over the past decade.

In East Lampeter Township, stormwater management costs have skyrocketed from just around $90,000 in 2017 to $450,000 in 2019, according to estimates.

For the next four years of its permit term, the township plans to budget $1.4 million annually.

“Based upon the way (the Department of Environmental Protection) has calculated our requirements...we can’t really sustain where we’ve been going,” he said.

In response to the increased costs in municipalities across the state, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill in 2016 allowing municipalities of the second class, such as East Lampeter Township, to enact fees to fund stormwater management efforts.

Elsewhere in the county, Lancaster city has had a stormwater fee in place since 2014. For most city homeowners, the fee is $29.50 or $88.50 quarterly, depending on impervious surface area.