Stormwater Authority (SWA)
- James Cochran, Chairman
- Richard Castranio, Vice Chairman
- Kenneth Martin, Board Secretary
- Virginia Anderson, Board Secretary
- Jeffrey M. Walter
The Upper Allen Township Stormwater Authority (SWA) was established by Upper Allen Township on June 20, 2018. The board consists of five (5) members appointed by the Board of Commissioners.
The SWA was created by the Township Board of Commissioners for the sole purpose of repairing and improving the Township’s extensive system of stormwater infrastructure and program. It is the objective of the Authority to fulfill this mission in a way that is fair to all residents and taxpayers of the Township. For more information on the Township’s stormwater/MS4 program, please see the link in the right-side menu.
Stormwater Utility Fee Credit Program
On Wednesday, December 19th, the Upper Allen Township Stormwater Authority approved the Stormwater Utility Fee Credit & Adjustment Policy (Resolution 10) and Stormwater Utility Fee Credit Manual. Property owners can now apply to receive a credit on their stormwater fee by installing and maintaining stormwater treatment practices and for participating in hands-on activities.
There are several different credits and reduction options available to residents, businesses, churches, non-profits, and industries. These include:
• Permeable Surface Systems
• Structural BMP
• Best Management Practice Easement
• Low Impact Parcel
• Rain Barrels
• NPDES Stormwater Permit Compliance
• Conservation Plan
• Innovation Credit
Please note, credits are applied directly to the amount of impervious area and not directly to the Utility Fee. Property owners are not eligible to reduce their designated ERUs to a value less than 0.5 ERUs for single-family residential parcels and not less than 1.0 ERUs for non-residential parcels. To be eligible for a credit, there must not be any outstanding and unpaid Utility Fees. Credits cannot be applied to previous billing cycles, with the exception of the Conservation Plan credit.
Additionally, the Township Authority has an inventory of existing Structural Best Management Practices (BMPs) that were constructed as part of previously approved land development plans. The existing Structural BMPs included in this inventory are not eligible to receive the Structural BMP credit, as credit was already taken for these facilities through the creation of the Township’s Combined Pollutant Reduction Plan. Please check with the Township to see if your property is included in the list prior applying.
The Stormwater Utility Fee Credit Policy, Manual and Application can be found:
Township Pollutant Reduction Projects
2019 Meadowview Dry-Extended Detention Pond Conservation Project
The Township will be converted the existing Township-owned dry-extended detention basin adjacent to Meadowview development to a bio-retention/rain garden facility. The project is expected to be complete in June 2020.
The basin conversion project is a result of the Township’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit, which requires the development and implementation of a Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP). The PRP is an unfunded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate. The goal of the PRP is to reduce sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen from being discharged to the local receiving waters of the Commonwealth and Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The conversion of this detention basin into a bio-retention/rain garden facility will allow the reduction of pollutant loads by approximately 100,000 lbs. per year. The new bio-retention/rain garden facility will contain water quality, native vegetation that is well suited for water filtration and uptake. These plants will also provide habitat value for local birds and other wildlife. The converted facility is designed to retain stormwater and allow it to slowly infiltrate into the ground, reducing stormwater pollution. This reduces the quantity of water flowing off-site into the municipal stormwater system. The Landscaping plan can be found: Landscaping Plan
2020 Dry-Extended Detention Pond Conservation Projects
Three more basins, at Friendship Park, Country Square, and at the Township building will be converted in 2020, likely starting in May if the basins are dry.
Township Interactive Map – Locate Your Property ERU Calculation
The Interactive Map is just a tool to help property owners understand and prepare for the upcoming fee. It is only providing estimated numbers at this time.
To use the Township Interactive Map when looking up your ERU amount:
(1) Click the button.
(2) Type your address in the search box (as seen in the image below):
(3) Click on your property.
(4) You will then see a table with information on your property.
(5) Scroll to the bottom of the table to find your property’s ERU calculation.
Once ERU Calculation Is Determined:
Once you have determined the amount of ERUs calculated at your property, please see below for an estimated annual fee amount:
$66 per ERU (4206 sq. ft.) per year. ERU designation for each property is subject to change at this time.
Please note, Undeveloped parcels and parcels with less than 2,123SF of impervious area will assess one-half (.50) an ERU $33 per year.
Stormwater Fee Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a stormwater fee?
A: A Stormwater Fee is a “fee for service” based on the cost to manage stormwater that runs off impervious areas. All money collected by the fee can only be used for stormwater management activities.
Q.How was the fee determined?
A: The fees are all based on the amount of impermeable surface on a property that will not allow rain water to seep into the ground (i.e. buildings and parking areas). A Township-wide survey that found the average single-family lot has 4,206-square-feet of impervious coverage, which became the basis for one ERU or Equivalent Residential Unit. The value of a single ERU is $66 per year ($16.50 per quarter) to cover the cost of the anticipated $1 million annual stormwater management budget.
Every property owner will be charged a fee based on the number of ERUs found on their property, which will be multiplied by $16.50 to determine the quarterly charge. This area was measured on aerial photography using computer mapping software.
Q. What are impervious surfaces and how do they contribute to stormwater problems?
A: Impervious surfaces are hard surfaces that do not allow rain or snowmelt to infiltrate at the same rate as natural surfaces such as grass or dirt. They include rooftops, driveways, patios, parking lots, sidewalks, and other man-made structures.
Q. Hasn’t the township always had a stormwater system? Nothing has changed on my property. Why will I be charged now when I haven’t paid in the past?
A: Yes, the Township has had a stormwater system for a long time. The Township was first regulated under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program in 2003. The MS4 program is a collection of unfunded mandates that are handed down by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered in Pennsylvania by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Prior to 2018, the Township was able to comply with these unfunded mandates using revenue from normal tax collections. Many new federal and state requirements were introduced in March of 2018 under the Township’s five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to combat the water pollution problems into the Cedar Run and Yellow Breeches creeks, as well as their tributaries.
The most important (and costly) of these is the requirement for the Township to implement a Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP). Compliance with these unfunded mandates is expected to cost the Township over $2.8 million over the next five years. Complying with all the regulations is expected to cost $1 million annually. Tax revenue alone is no longer sufficient to pay for these costs of compliance, so a dedicated stormwater management fee is necessary now even though it has not been necessary in the past.
Q. Why not just include the stormwater program in cost in our property tax?
A: The primary reason for assessing the stormwater fee instead of raising property taxes is to link the amount that each property pays to the amount of stormwater that is generated on the property. There is not necessarily a correlation between the tax-assessed value of a property and the amount of stormwater that the property generates.
Additionally, some properties are exempt from taxes, but all properties contribute stormwater runoff and should pay the stormwater fee just like all properties have other utility bills like water, sewer, electric, etc. Furthermore, the revenue can only be used for stormwater management and cannot be redirected for other uses in the way that tax revenues can. This ensures that the Township will have funds to meet all MS4 program requirements.
Q. What will the stormwater fee pay for?
Regulatory Compliance for increasing state and federal requirements
Stormwater system cleaning and repairs
Capital projects, including the following:
Mandated pollution reductions
Drainage Improvement projects to address local flooding
Major Drainage projects needed to improve the Township’s stormwater system
Q. How often will I be billed?
A: The stormwater fee will be billed quarterly. The first fee would appear as a separate charge in the January 2019 sewer bill. Property owners not connected to the public sewer would receive a standalone bill.
Q. How are undeveloped parcels treated?
A: Undeveloped parcels and parcels with less than 2,123SF of impervious area will assessed one-half (.50) an ERU $33 per year
Q. Are other municipalities also enacting stormwater fees?
A: Many municipalities are enacting stormwater fees because, unlike property tax, which exempts nonprofits, a stormwater fee treats all owners equally according to the amount of impervious coverage on their property. Here are some examples of municipality fees in the area: Derry Township has a $19.50/quarter fee for a single-family residence; Mt. Lebanon’s fee is about $24/quarter; Lower Allen Township is considering a $19/quarter fee; Carlisle is considering $31.50/quarter for properties with more than 3,600 sq. ft of impervious coverage; and Lower Paxton is considering $32/quarter.
Q. Was there a public input process for considering the stormwater fee?
A: Yes, there were public meetings for the stormwater fee held on September 12 and October 2, 2018. Public Comment periods were also accessible at the Board of Commissioners’ and Stormwater Authority’s meetings. The meetings were announced via the Township website, newsletters, newspaper, and media sites.
Q. What happens when a property is vacant?
A: The Stormwater Management Fee applies whether the property is occupied or not.
Q. My water stays on my property; it doesn’t flow into a storm drain. Am I exempt?
A: No. Even if stormwater does not flow directly to the street or into a storm drain, all runoff accumulates pollutants as it travels across land. The storm drain system allows for the continuity of traffic, commerce and public safety in the event of a storm. Furthermore, the removal of pollutants from our waterways is necessary for the long-term health and vitality of our community. Everyone benefits from those conditions regardless of how runoff may be directed on their personal property.
Additionally, all property owners benefit from services provided by the Township that are beyond their property lines, such as permit compliance, MS4 system maintenance, street sweeping, storm clean-up, and stormwater improvements throughout the Township. The MS4 and roadway drainage systems serve all residents and allow people to commute to work, school, church, local businesses, parks, etc. Stormwater management is a community-wide service and the program costs need to be distributed to all property owners.
Q. Why do I have to pay if my subdivision is built out, and has an adequate storm system already?
A: All properties in the Township contribute stormwater to the system, so all should contribute to the costs of operating the system. A portion of the fee’s revenues will be used to maintain and to make water quality improvements to the existing system, including the one in your neighborhood. As facilities age, they require a higher level of maintenance and eventual replacement.
Q. Does this mean the township will take care of the drainage in my yard?
A: No, Upper Allen will take care of stormwater pipes within easements and rights-of-way. Property owners are responsible for mowing and general landscape care in easements, as well as other yard areas, including portions of the right-of-way that front on their property.
Q. Will the township provide credits to the stormwater fee for on-site stormwater controls or BMPs?
A: The Township will not be implementing a credit program in 2019. At this time, the Township will be looking into a credit program for Best Management Practices BMPs (I.e. rain gardens, basins or swales – that control and treat stormwater runoff) in the future, possibly 2020. Please check back for updates on this topic.
An annual reduction in the stormwater management fee, also known as a credit, may be available to users to help property owners reduce their annual stormwater management fee and to offset the additional cost of maintaining their facilities, thus providing an incentive for implementing stormwater management practices. Below is some information on nearby credit programs in other municipalities:
Q. Are gravel and compacted stones charged at the same rate as other impervious surfaces?
A: Yes, gravel and compacted stone are considered impervious because this material, used for roads and parking lots, is engineered and compacted to withstand heavy loads. These compacted materials form a seal through which water will not readily infiltrate.
Q. If I believe there is an error in my impervious surface calculation can I appeal?
A: Yes, the Upper Allen Stormwater Authority (SWA) has approved an appeals process. The appeal form and instructions are available on this web page, as well as the Applications page, and at the Township building. Property owners must prove either the square footage of impervious area listed for their property is incorrect or there was a mathematical error in the fee calculation. Please note: in no event shall any property be charged less than half (.50) of an ERU.
Q. When are Stormwater Authority (SWA) meetings held?
A: Meetings are held the third Wednesday every month at 6:00 P.M.
Q. What is the lowest ERU calculation a property can be charged?
A: Each property shall initially be charged a utility fee of half (.5) an ERU through a quarterly billing process. All properties shall be billed on a quarterly basis based upon the additional number of square feet of measured Impervious Surface. Therefore, in no event shall any such property be charged less than half (.50) of an ERU.