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HRG to Speak and Exhibit at 2017 PMAA Conference

Join us at the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association conference September 10 – 13, 2017. This year’s event is being held at the Hershey Lodge, and several HRG team members will be speaking:

 

Justin MendinskyErin ThreetJustin Mendinsky and Erin Threet will be discussing the Milton Regional Sewer Authority’s unique approach to meeting Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction goals at its wastewater treatment plant. They’ll also be reviewing the impact of biological nutrient removal (BNR) on nitrogen levels within the Susquehanna River. (Monday September 11)

 

 

 

Tom HolleranTom Holleran will be participating in a panel discussion with representatives from Northern Blair County Regional Sewer Authority; M&T Bank; Link Computer Corporation; and the Fiore, Fedeli, Snyder & Carothers accounting firm. They’ll be discussing the discovery of a felony embezzlement at the Northern Blair County Regional Sewer Authority, specifically describing how the theft was executed.  They’ll also be offering tips authorities can use to protect themselves against embezzlement. (Monday September 11)

 

Adrienne VicariAdrienne Vicari will be talking about the innovative regional stormwater collaboration Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority is forming with more than 30 municipalities in Northeastern PA. This partnership has garnered praise from DEP secretary Patrick McDonnell and is saving local municipalities millions of dollars in stormwater management costs associated with MS4 compliance. She will be joined at this presentation by Jim Tomaine of the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority and William Finnegan of Pugliese, Finnegan, Shaffer & Ferentino, LLC. (Tuesday September 12)

 

Chat with Justin, Erin, Tom, and Adrienne at booth #53 and enter our raffle. Ed Ellinger, Jeff Garrigan, and Kiana Tralongo will also be there.

We look forward to seeing you!

 

Adrienne Vicari Named One of Central PA’s Top 40 Under 40

Adrienne VicariThe Central Penn Business Journal named Adrienne Vicari to its 23nd annual Forty Under 40 list, which honors individuals for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and the Central Pennsylvania community.  She and the other honorees will receive their award at a banquet on October 2 at the Hilton Harrisburg.

Adrienne is the financial services practice area leader at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. She has more than 15 years of experience in financial consulting, project management and engineering design for municipal wastewater, water and stormwater clients. In her current role with the firm, she uses asset management and capital improvement planning as tools to complete long-range strategic financial planning for her clients.

But she began her career at HRG in a very different role: as a professional engineer designing water and wastewater treatment facilities. She quickly developed an interest in helping her water and wastewater clients obtain and manage their funding for capital improvement projects and transitioned into the firm’s financial service group. As communities have developed a growing need for increased stormwater management funding and utility valuation, she has become an industry leader in these areas, as well.

Russ McIntosh, a vice president of HRG, says:

“Adrienne is an unstoppable force. When she sees something needs done, she dives right in and gives it everything she has. She is extremely knowledgeable of the issues municipal water quality professionals face and very creative in addressing those challenges. There is nothing she can’t or won’t do to help her clients succeed.”

Adrienne Vicari volunteers for STEM educationThis dedication extends outside the office to the Central Pennsylvania community, as well. Adrienne encourages young people to achieve success in science, technology engineering, and math related fields by participating in STEM-related events like the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” at the Whitaker Center. She also serves as a board member with the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization and takes part in their annual STEM expo. In addition, she coaches Central Penn Mini Sticks field hockey and a Cumberland Valley softball 10U team.

She also co-founded a women’s volunteer group for West Shore mothers that encourages them to pursue diverse volunteer opportunities with their children. The group has had a significant impact on mid-state organizations such as Caitlin Smiles, Leg Up Farm, Ronald McDonald House, Dress for Success, and others.

 

ABOUT HRG

Originally founded in 1962, HRG has grown to be a nationally ranked Top 500 Design Firm, providing civil engineering, surveying and environmental services to public and private sector clients. The 200-person employee-owned firm currently has office locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. For more information, please visit the website at www.hrg-inc.com.

 

Flood Control Article Advice from Erin Letavic in Borough News

Erin Letavic, a project manager in HRG’s civil group, published an article in the July issue of Borough News magazine about flood control entitled “Mitigating Flood Risk in Your Borough.”  In it, she discusses the costs municipalities face when flooding occurs and offers  tips for how to minimize the risk of flood damage as much as possible.

Topics she discusses in the article include

  • Understanding your community’s flood risk
  • Improving floodplain management in your community
  • Expanding vegetation that absorbs flood waters and filters pollutants
  • Promoting the construction of green infrastructure
  • Obtaining funding for flood mitigation measures
  • Gaining public support for flood mitigation measures

Flood control strategies can help communities manage their flood risk and lower the potential cost of flood damage

Severe floods can happen in any community, and, when they do, they can wreak serious havoc: destroying homes and businesses, threatening people’s safety, temporarily shutting down the economy, and damaging infrastructure.

Communities can manage flood risk by implementing a flood mitigation strategy. The first step in flood control is to determine what areas of your community are most vulnerable to flooding and model exactly how those areas would be impacted by particular flood events. The next step is to make sure your ordinances and codes limit development in flood-prone areas and promote the planting and preservation of vegetation that will absorb flood waters and reduce flood intensity.

Successful flood control plans require cooperation among all stakeholders in a community, so it is essential to involve them throughout the planning and implementation stages. Obtaining grants and loans to support the initiative will help reduce opposition and lessen the impact on tight municipal budgets.

While the risk of flood damage cannot be completely eliminated, municipalities can greatly enhance the safety of their communities with a forward-thinking approach. The planning a municipality does today is key to weathering the storms tomorrow may bring.

Read the entire article here or in the print edition of Borough News magazine.

 

Watch Erin and other HRG personnel discuss the flooding that occurred around Harrisburg after Tropical Storm Lee and the measures local communities are taking to prevent similar damage in the future.

 

 

How to Choose the Best Method of GIS Data Collection for Water and Sewer Systems

Infrastructure Asset Management: Business Principles to Maximize Government Revenue Returns

This post is an excerpt from an article we published in the June 2017 issue of Borough News magazine entitled “Strategic Asset Management: Optimizing Your Borough’s Dollars.”

We hear a lot these days about the virtues of running government like a business, but what does that mean?

Any profitable business owner can tell you that success doesn’t happen by accident. Managers spend a good bit of time and money studying the environment in which they operate, identifying opportunities and threats, and planning the best ways to maximize growth while minimizing risk.

Though these efforts cost money, prudent managers know it is an investment in the company that will pay higher dividends over the long-term.

Part of a businessman’s overall strategic planning effort involves cataloguing his assets and maximizing their value. Assets can be wide-ranging: from people to trucks to buildings. The goal of asset management is to optimize the way you spend your budget dollars in order to make sure they are providing the biggest return: reducing the life cycle costs while maximizing the service each asset provides.

Who needs to optimize the way they spend their budget dollars more than cash-strapped municipalities under pressure to keep taxes low while obligations increase?

Most municipalities are grappling with aging infrastructure. Take water systems, for example: The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the cost to keep our water and wastewater system functioning over the long term is more than $1 trillion. While there is plenty of work to be done, there is simply not enough funding for communities to do it all at once. Therefore, ASCE recommends assessing the condition of every pipe and valve to determine the risks of failure and properly allocate funds where they are needed most. Asset management and capital improvement planning can help you target your limited budget dollars most effectively in all types of infrastructure: roadways, bridges, stormwater management systems and more.

For example, new technology is making it possible for municipalities to extend the life of their roadways through roadway management systems. Cameras and laser-scanning technology can be mounted to trucks that record the conditions of a municipality’s entire roadway system: noting cracks, pot holes, wheel rutting, and more. Doing this work manually would’ve been too labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive for communities in the past, but now, thanks to technological advancements, municipalities can collect better data at a lower cost without road closures or detours!

Once the data is collected, the municipality can work with an engineer to analyze it and prioritize a list of maintenance, repairs and reconstruction needs. A roadway management program like this emphasizes cost-effective, preventative maintenance activities to prolong the life of a roadway in good condition. By making well-timed, proactive investments, the municipality can enjoy better service from the roadway at a lower lifetime cost.

Silver Spring Township Roadway Management Program

HRG has designed a roadway management program for Silver Spring Township that is helping them save money and better position themselves for grant funding. Learn more

The same asset management and capital improvement principles can be applied to bridges, as well. Typically, this is done at the county level since they own more bridges than municipalities, but the process is similar. When Dauphin County first embarked on its bridge management program, 1/3 of its bridges were structurally deficient. They carefully catalogued the condition of each bridge and prioritized repairs and replacement contracts. Today, they have successfully eliminated all load-posted, structurally-deficient bridges in the county. The program has been so successful it’s generated a surplus of liquid fuels funding, and the county has been able to funnel that into a subsidized loan program for its municipalities to address their own infrastructure needs.

Duke Street Ribbon Cutting

Thanks to careful planning and a wise use of funds, Dauphin County recently completed the replacement of its last load-posted, structurally deficient bridge. Now they can use their Liquid Fuels money for an innovative infrastructure bank that is helping municipalities and the private sector improve local communities. Learn more

Asset management programs can be very important to municipalities looking to meet their MS4 stormwater obligations, as well – particularly if they are considering the implementation of a stormwater fee. Aging infrastructure and growing MS4 permit obligations are compelling municipalities to upgrade their stormwater systems. Though legislation allows them to charge a stormwater fee, they must be able to justify it, which means they must conduct a thorough inventory of their facilities and document the work that must be done to keep it functioning (along with cost estimates for that work). These are crucial facets of an asset management system.

Mobile GIS Development for MS4 Inspections

Municipalities will need a thorough inventory of their stormwater facilities and their condition in order to keep up with the increasing burden of MS4 permitting. Learn about a GIS application HRG created for Hampden Township to help them meet MS4 inspection and reporting requirements.

 

What is asset management?

Asset management is a systematic approach to minimizing the cost of owning, operating, and maintaining your infrastructure at acceptable levels of service.

It is not a computer system or GIS, though these are often valuable tools employed in an asset management program for record-keeping and data analysis.

A proper asset management and capital improvement program will help a municipality identify areas where money is not being spent wisely and reallocate those funds where they can be most beneficial.

It will also help you recognize and evaluate options for keeping your assets functioning for a longer period of time, so that you don’t need to invest in expensive upgrades or replacements as frequently.

It is a circular process that never ends.

Circular Nature of Asset Management

Many things change over time: the condition of your assets, regulations and the business climate you operate in, the number of users you serve, etc.  A good asset management and capital improvement program helps you plan for these changes in advance and respond proactively before they become threats to your bottom line.

 

What are the benefits of infrastructure asset management?

As we’ve already stated, an asset management and capital improvement program helps you identify exactly what maintenance and repair work is necessary without guesswork. This approach has multiple benefits:

Minimizing Risk
Knowing which infrastructure is most likely to fail (and correcting deficiencies before it does) can save you major expenses later. Knowing which failures would be the most catastrophic helps you target money toward their prevention as a first priority.

Maximizing Returns
Asset management and capital improvement planning is all about proactively investing in measures to extend the life of your infrastructure.  These small investments can extend the life of an asset by several years.

Optimizing Service and Satisfaction
Proactively maintaining your assets ensures they function at peak performance for a longer period of time and are replaced before they fail. This means your constituents receive top quality service without disruption and are happier for it. In addition, many asset management solutions include optional customer service applications that make it easier for residents and business owners to submit service requests and track them to completion.

Justifying Your Tax Rates or Fees
Rate increases are never popular, but they are easier for people to accept when they are backed up with clear data showing exactly what improvements are needed and why.

Accessing grants and loans
Competition for funding is fierce, and government agencies are under pressure to make sure the money they invest is used wisely. As a result, they’re more likely to award funds to municipalities who have clear documentation of the project need, its benefits, and a plan for getting it built, operating it, and maintaining it at optimum levels over time.

Improving your worth
Many municipalities have been considering the option of leasing or selling their assets as a response to growing financial obligations in the public sector. A comprehensive asset management system provides documentation of the value of your assets, so you can ensure you are in a position to negotiate the best possible deal for you and your constituents.  Potential investors will be more comfortable making a significant investment if they fully understand the value and the risks they’re assuming.

But asset management can benefit your financial picture even if leasing or selling is not on the horizon.

Under GASB standards, governments can either subtract a standard portion of their infrastructure’s value each year to account for depreciation (the traditional approach), or they can regularly assess the condition of the infrastructure, invest in maintenance to keep it in good condition, and then report the amount of money they have invested in maintenance (the modified approach, which is similar in scope to a typical asset management program).  Using the modified approach, the assets don’t have to depreciate in value like they would in the traditional approach.

A recent article in Governing magazine showed how investors appear to prefer trading bonds from governments that use the modified approach:

“Governments that use the modified method trade at much narrower price ranges compared to bonds from governments that depreciate. In other words, when a government uses the modified approach, investors are much more likely to agree on how to price its bonds. For governments, this can ultimately translate into lower bond interest rates.”

(excerpted from “Selling Your Sewer’s Story – Financial statements can make the best case for public works investors”)

 

The truth is, you’re going to have to invest in maintenance and repair anyway. If you invest in an asset management program, you can take a proactive approach to determining what maintenance is needed and then plan and budget for it in advance. This means you can target your maintenance dollars where they’re needed most and make sure you have the funds available to do the work before infrastructure failure brings even greater costs to bear on your budget.

Publicly-traded companies are held accountable to their shareholders. They must demonstrate that they are making good decisions for the future health of the company and maximizing the value of the shareholders’ investments. Taxpayers are coming to demand the same sort of accountability from their government, wanting proof that their tax dollars are providing a good return, as well. Municipal managers that can prove the value of their decisions will enjoy broad support of their constituents while improving the long-term financial stability of their community.


Adrienne M. VicariAdrienne Vicari, P.E., is the financial services practice area leader at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., a civil engineering firm that serves local governments and authorities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Ms. Vicari has assisted numerous municipalities and water and sewer authorities with the creation of asset management programs that have created increased value and lowered costs for her clients.

 

HRG Professionals Headlining 9 Presentations at PENNTEC 2017

HRG professionals will be headlining nine presentations at the PENNTEC conference next week. The Pennsylvania Water Environment Association will be hosting this conference June 4 – 7 at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in Pocono Manor. 

 

Matthew Cichy

What to Know Before You Collect Asset Data for GIS (Monday June 5)
Matt Cichy will discuss who can complete the data collection and how it should be done. He will also present the lessons he has learned from many years of experience collecting sanitary and storm sewer system asset data for use in GIS.

 

Howard Hodder
Web-based Technologies for the Inventory, Operations and Maintenance of your Assets
(Monday June 5)
Howard Hodder will provide an overview of the latest web-based GIS technology (ArcGIS). He’ll also explain how its simplicity enables municipalities large and small to build and maintain robust databases in-house, making asset management a viable solution. His experience assisting Lower Swatara Township Municipal Authority with a successful implementation of the technology will serve as the basis of discussion.

 

Ben Burns
Big Hollow Diversion Pump Station Expands Capacity and Eliminates Stormwater Issues
(Monday June 5)
Ben Burns will describe the Big Hollow Diversion Pump Station he designed for the University Area Joint Authority. This 18.8 MGD facility provides capacity for the build-out projections presented in the authority’s most recent Act 537 plan.  It also removes a section of interceptor pipe that was installed at ground level and had been causing stormwater to backwater.  The pump station incorporates a diversion pumping system that uses a second forcemain to pump high flows around hydraulically limited segments of a gravity interceptor.

 

Justin Mendinsky
Belt Dryer Performance Evaluation: Is the Bang Worth the Buck?
(Monday June 5)
Justin Mendinsky will discuss his experience working with the Milton Regional Sewer Authority on the installation of a new belt dryer designed to produce Class A biosolids from the processing of dewatered, waste-activated and waste anaerobic sludge. The belt dryer will operate using direct exhaust from two 1-Megawatt generators as the primary source of drying.  Justin’s presentation will detail the dryer’s performance, the cost of operation, and the process variability (as impacted by sludge feedstock type, dewatering system equipment, and generator operations).

 

Adrienne M. Vicari
Selling, Leasing or Retaining Public Utility Systems
(Tuesday June 6)
Adrienne Vicari will offer insight into the strategies municipalities are using to ensure their utility systems are financially secure and operating efficiently.  She will specifically discuss the leasing or sale of public utilities to private companies or other public systems and will explain the ways the valuation process is impacted by Act 12 of 2016.  She and her co-presenters will present the pros and cons of using the new approach outlined in Act 12 versus the traditional approach for utility valuation.  They will also discuss the importance of conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine if selling or leasing a public utility is the best option for the community.  Finally, she and her co-presenters will highlight best practices for ensuring financial and operational stability.  Funding agency representatives will discuss funding sources for capital improvements.

 

Miller
Replacing Failing OLDS with Low-Pressure Sewer Collection Facilities and a New Treatment Facility
(Tuesday June 6)
Jennifer Miller and Mark Deimler (of Strasburg Township) will discuss Strasburg’s experience installing a new low-pressure sewage collection system and a recirculating sand filter treatment facility. Their presentation will focus on public outreach and construction sequencing as crucial factors in the project’s success.

 

Chad Hanley
The Long-Road to Planning and Implementing a New Municipal Sanitary Sewage System in Greene Township
(Tuesday June 6)
Chad Hanley will discuss the challenges of implementing a new sewage collection system in rural areas. He will describe how public outreach efforts helped Greene Township overcome resistance from homeowners to the cost of connecting to the system.  He will also discuss how intergovernmental cooperation and an investigation of alternative technologies helped to lower project costs.

Cranberry Highlands Golf Course: A Look Back at 15 Years of Reuse (Wednesday June 7)
Chad Hanley will discuss the successes and lessons learned from using wastewater effluent for irrigation at the Cranberry Highlands Golf Course for the past 15 years.  This highly successful project serves as a model example of the benefits of water reuse. 

 

Josh Fox
Regional Wastewater Effluent Solutions for Irrigation Issues
(Wednesday June 7)
Josh Fox will be discussing the ramifications of using wastewater effluent for golf course irrigation.  Fox evaluated the use of wastewater effluent for irrigation at the Sunset Golf Course in Dauphin County, and his presentation will describe the obstacles he overcame to create a successful project.  It will also discuss the potential implications this project holds for the community in terms of water conservation and improved water quality.

 

We look forwarding to seeing you there!

 

Adrienne Vicari to Present at PSATS 2017: Derry Township’s Stormwater Authority Experience

Join us Monday at the annual PSATS Conference when HRG’s Financial Services Manager Adrienne Vicari will be presenting a workshop on Derry Township’s experience forming a stormwater authority.

 

One Township’s Experience with a Stormwater Authority
1:15 p.m. at Empire D, Confection Hall (lower level)

This workshop will explain how a stormwater authority has helped Derry Township comply with its MS4 requirements while improving service, enhancing water quality, reducing flooding, and improving township finances. The presenters will explain lessons learned from every phase of the authority’s development, from the initial analysis to the public outreach.  They will also discuss the importance of open, collaborative communication between the municipality and the authority staff.

 

Though communities have been charging fees for stormwater across the U.S. for years, stormwater authorities are still relatively new to Pennsylvania.  Township leaders rightfully have many questions about whether forming a stormwater authority would be the best choice for their community (and whether residents and business owners will support the idea).  The best way to get those questions answered is to hear from another township who’s already thought through these questions!

Adrienne will be co-presenting this workshop with Michael Callahan, the stormater program coordinator at Derry Township Municipal Authority; Wayne Schutz, the executive director of the Derry Township Municipal Authority; and Lee Stinnet, esquire at Salzmann Hughes, PC.

Get up-to-the-minute info about PSATS’ 2017 Annual Conference

 

PSATS-2017_Vicari-presents-stormwater-authorities

Do you want to learn more about how a stormwater utility could fund your stormwater program? Download our guide:

Determining If a Stormwater Utility Is Right for Your Community

Stormwater Utility GuideIt includes
• Answers to common questions about stormwater utilities
• Advice for how to build public consensus for stormwater fees
• An outline of the early steps you should take when investigating the feasibility of a stormwater utility

Download the guide at

www.hrg-inc.com/stormwater-utility-guide

 

 

How EPA’s Stormwater Management Planning Guide Can Help with MS4 Compliance, Aging Infrastructure

EPA's planned guide on stormwater management planning can help municipalities address aging infrastructure and regulatory challenges under tight budget constraints.

Today, communities must address aging infrastructure and stricter stormwater management regulation (like MS4 permitting) under tight budget constraints. In order to be successful, they will need to take a long-term approach to stormwater management planning.  EPA’s new guide can help.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency published Community Solutions for Stormwater Management: A Guide for Voluntary Long-Term Planning. The current version is a preliminary draft (the final guide will not be published until later in 2017), and, when it is, it will be accompanied by a website and toolkit that helps communities navigate the recommended planning process.

But even in its preliminary form, the guide provides valuable advice about how to implement a long-term approach to stormwater management planning. Many of the steps outlined in the guide are an integral part of HRG’s approach to assisting our municipal stormwater clients.  Here are the major highlights:

Figure out where you want to go.

EPA recommends that you begin by identifying the goals you have for your stormwater management program.  This could include reducing runoff or improving water quality.  It could also include reducing flooding impacts or protecting natural resources like the floodplain and wetland areas.

The process for determining these goals includes talking to municipal staff as well as residents and business owners. One of your first steps should be to identify potential stakeholders in the community and a process for engaging them.  This could be the formation of a stakeholder advisory committee or open public forums.  At this time, you should also identify groups you can ally with as partners: watershed alliances, environmental groups, schools, businesses and community organizations, etc.

Throughout the entire planning and implementation process, you will need to communicate with the public, so now’s the time to establish how communication will take place: what media you will use, how often you will distribute information, and exactly what information will be communicated.

Determine where you are right now.

Before you can locate the path to success, you need to know your true starting point.  An early step in any long-term planning process is a thorough assessment of the current condition of your facilities. This includes finding and mapping your infrastructure, then documenting its condition and analyzing its performance.  It means determining the origin and destination of your stormwater management flows and considering future events that could threaten your facilities (significant weather events, new regulation, or the level of development in an area, for example).

This documentation could be made in the form of a paper map or a computerized geographic information system, depending on your goals and budget.

Chart a course.

Now that you know where you are and where you want to go, you can begin to evaluate the best possible way to get there.  In the previous two steps, you’ve identified your goals for an optimal level of service, and you’ve determined what your current level of service is.  In this phase of the process, a qualified consultant will help you identify the improvements you need to meet the desired level of service, including capital improvement projects and their associated cost.  He or she will also help you prioritize which projects should be tackled first.

In order to do so, the consultant will work with you to establish objective criteria for comparing various improvement alternatives. Some of the criteria you’ll want to consider include cost (not just construction cost but also life cycle costs associated with operation and maintenance), the potential burden on the community, the ability to reduce pollutants, improvement of receiving water quality, and public health benefit.

These steps are really just crucial components of an effective asset management and capital improvement plan.

Put it in gear.

This is the phase where you begin to implement the improvements you’ve selected.  It includes the creation of a detailed implementation schedule and the development of financial strategies to make sure the program is fully funded.

When looking for a consultant to assist you with a long-term stormwater management planning process, you’ll want to find one with ample financial expertise – someone who has extensive knowledge of the financing options available to municipalities, including grants and loans or user fees (among others).


HRG can help you evaluate whether stormwater user fees could benefit your community. Check out our guide:

Stormwater Utility Guide

Determining If a Stormwater Utility Is Right for Your Community

It includes:

• Answers to common questions about stormwater utilities
• Advice for how to build public consensus for stormwater fees
• An outline of the early steps you should take when investigating the feasibility of a stormwater utility

Download the guide at

www.hrg-inc.com/stormwater-utility-guide


Perform a check-up.

You’re not done yet! Once you’ve started implementing your plan, you’ll want to periodically assess how it’s working and make adjustments, as needed. Your consultant should clearly outline the metrics you will use to measure results. You’ll also want to track any cost savings your improvements produce.  This is important for providing the buy-in to keep the program going.  It will also help you identify ways to reinvest those savings.

As regulation and MS4 permitting requirements increase, municipalities will find that the historically reactive approach they have taken to stormwater management will not be enough to comply. They will need to take a more proactive approach to stormwater management planning based on their long-term vision for the community.  These tips are great place to start for creating that vision.

(If you’d like to learn more about stormwater management planning, visit our Water Resources page for a list of services we provide, more of our Insights on stormwater and MS4, descriptions of example projects we’ve completed, and profiles of our stormwater design professionals.)

 


Matthew Bonanno, P.E., Matt Bonannois the civil services practice area leader at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. He has 15 years of experience in stormwater management, water resources engineering, and municipal retainer services throughout Central Pennsylvania. He can be reached at (717) 564-1121 or mbonanno@hrg-inc.com

 

Adrienne Vicari, P.E.,Adrienne M. Vicari is the financial services practice area leader at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. In this role, she has helped HRG provide strategic financial planning and grant administration services to numerous municipal and municipal authority clients. She is also serving as project manager for several projects involving the creation of stormwater authorities or the addition of stormwater to the charter of existing authorities throughout Pennsylvania.

 

 

HRG Named NFWF Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund Technical Capacity Provider

NFWF Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund

As an approved provider for the National Fish and Wildlife Federation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund Technical Capacity Grant Program, Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) is now qualified to provide technical services to local governments, nonprofit organizations, and conservation districts for projects that enhance local capacity to more efficiently and effectively restore the habitats and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

These technical capacity grants are designed to fill a strategic need or gap for planning in larger watershed restoration or conservation projects. The program is not to be relied upon to implement on-the-ground-work and is not a substitute for securing implementation funding to successfully complete a project.

The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund awards $8 million to $12 million per year through two competitive grant programs, the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants (INSR) and Small Watershed Grants (SWG) Programs. Entities interested in applying for funding for these grants should also consider the Technical Capacity Grants Program as an opportunity to better develop project ideas and enhance the technical merits and competitive status of their future INSR or SWG grant applications.

Local governments, conservation districts, or 501(c) non-profit organizations that believe they have an eligible project for this grant program should contact Matt Bonanno, our civil services practice area leader, at mbonnano@hrg-inc.com or 717.564.1121.


Eligible Applicants: Only NFWF-approved Technical Assistance Providers. HRG is approved for five years (through 2021). HRG must complete the application on behalf of the eligible beneficiary.

Eligible beneficiaries: Local governments (including conservation districts) and non-profit 501(c) organization.

Eligible Projects: Technical capacity grant projects are available in the three priority investment areas listed below.

  • Agricultural Conservation: Agricultural conservation for water quality and habitat improvement.
  • Restoration and Community Stewardship: Including watershed planning, habitat restoration, land conservation and land use, public access, diversity initiatives, environmental literacy, and leadership development.
  • Stormwater Management: Including design of regional stormwater servicing models, sustainable financing and management strategies, and targeting of stormwater improvements for water quality, resiliency, and community benefit.

Available Funding: Up to $50,000 per project. Each year, NFWF plans to award approximately 25 grants for a total of $1 million in awards. Total funding for awards will be determined based on the quality and quantity of applications received.

Application Deadline: Grant opportunities are announced throughout the year in three application cycles: agricultural conservation (spring); restoration and community stewardship (summer); and stormwater management (fall).

Tips for Preparing Your 2018 MS4 Permit Application

Learn more about:

  • the specific deadlines associated with the 2018 MS4 permit application,
  • how to apply for a waiver from the new Pollution Reduction Plan requirements,
  • what details must be added to the 2018 mapping, and
  • how municipalities can collaborate with others to improve the effectiveness (and reduce the cost) of their MS4 program.

Get started now on all that 2018 MS4 permit paperwork

The 2018 MS4 permit cycle may seem far away, but the time to start preparing your permit application is now. Submission deadlines for portions of the application process begin as early as this December, and the final deadline for submission of your permit application is next September (2017).

If your municipality is one of the many subject to a new permit, new waiver, or new Pollutant Reduction Plan or TMDL requirements, you will need plenty of time and resources to produce the required documentation for your application.

Start now: the first submission deadline is just 3 months away.

As described in our previous post on the 2018 MS4 permit requirements, the new permit cycle adds requirements for Pollution Reduction Plans and TMDLs for many municipalities.  But it is possible for some of these municipalities to skip the submission of a Pollutant Reduction Plan altogether.

Municipalities may be eligible for a waiver from submitting a Pollution Reduction Plan if:

  • Their population size is small enough. (i.e. They have less than 1,000 people in their urban area or less than 10,000 in their entire municipality.) AND
  • They can show that none of their outfalls discharge to a locally impaired water OR
  • They discharge to impaired water, but DEP determines that they are not contributing to the impairment.

Deadlines are rapidly approachingIf you think your municipality might be eligible for a waiver, you will need to submit an advanced waiver request by December 31, 2016 at the latest. (In order to have time to review all applications thoroughly, DEP is requesting that you submit your applications even earlier, if possible.)

Mapping and paperwork are required for a waiver request, so you will need time to work with a consultant or government agency with GIS support staff to develop these materials.

 

Preparing an Advanced Waiver Request

Waiver requests must include:

  • A detailed map of the MS4, which includes all outfalls, storm sewers, surface waters, land uses, and any connections to other MS4s.
  • An outline of the drainage area for each outfall that discharges to impaired waters.
  • A written explanation of why your waiver is justified.

There is no application fee for an advanced waiver request. If your waiver is granted, you must include two copies of it with your completed permit application in September 2017.

NOTE: You must submit your waiver request by December 31 to avoid submitting a Pollutant Reduction Plan. Even if you qualify for the waiver, you will have to submit the plan if you didn’t apply for an advanced waiver by December 31 in case, upon review, a General Permit is actually issued by DEP.

 

Even if the advanced waiver deadline does not apply to your municipality, it is still imperative to begin planning for your 2018 permit cycle now. The pollutant reduction plans for the permit application are due next September, but the plan(s) must be completed and posted for public comment at least 45 days in advance, which is less than a year away.

Review/complete/update your map: New information is required.

MS4 permit requirements are moving from a qualitative approach to a quantitative approach: Instead of just implementing BMPs in a good faith effort to improve stormwater quality, municipalities are increasingly being asked to determine the exact nature of their discharge and specifically demonstrate how they are reducing the quantity and concentration of pollutants. Good mapping is essential to this task because you cannot eliminate illicit discharges if you do not know where they originate.

Accordingly, DEP has clarified what permittees must map and submit with the 2018 permit application. This includes:

  •  The location of privately owned storm sewers and other government-agency-owned facilities that connect to the municipal system.
  •  A delineation of the storm sewershed for each stormwater outfall.

What is a storm sewershed?

It is the entire land area that drains to a particular regulated MS4 outfall. (Outfalls are any discernible, confined conveyance of stormwater that discharges to surface waters. This includes pipes, ditches, channels, etc.)

Why are storm sewersheds relevant?

Municipalities subject to Pollutant Control Planning are required to develop an inventory of pollutant sources within their MS4. The storm sewershed will define the areas to be investigated in order to identify and investigate potential pollutant sources.

Municipalities with Pollution Reduction Plan requirements have specific goals for reducing their pollutant contributions. The storm sewersheds will minimize the planning area for existing base loads, and identify locations of BMPs that will provide the necessary pollutant reduction in those areas. (Municipalities with Pollutant Reduction Plan requirements include Chesapeake Bay watershed contributors, municipalities with watershed impairments attributed to nutrients and/or sediment, and TMDLs.)

In the current PAG-13, municipalities are expected to ensure the proper operation of all stormwater facilities within their MS4 (even privately owned facilities), some of which are not accessible (feasibly, legally, etc.). For this reason, DEP will now accept observation points on the mapping which indicate where municipal staff can inspect facilities that are not accessible due to safety or legal concerns.

Collecting data for mappingFor existing permittees, the 2018 mapping should include:

  • Municipal boundary lines.
  • 2010 Urbanized Area.
  • The location of all regulated outfalls – even those that are privately owned but connect to the public system. (Each outfall should be numbered for reference and should include observation point locations, where applicable.)
  • Surface waters that receive drainage from the MS4.
  • The entire storm sewer collection system that is owned or operated by the permittee including roads, inlets/catch basins, piping, swales/channels, and storm sewersheds.

The purpose of this map is to track illicit discharges and map storm sewersheds for pollutant reduction planning. While digital mapping functions best for suburban municipalities and cities, boroughs may exist at a scale where less sophisticated mapping techniques may be more cost efficient and equally effective.

Watershed crossing municipal boundaries

Watersheds often cross municipal boundaries, so cooperation can be very beneficial when controlling stormwater.

Consider the value of working with others:

Stormwater does not recognize municipal boundaries. It continues to flow down slope, regardless of where the borders of an MS4 regulated area may lie.  But a municipality working on its own can only manage that stormwater as it flows through its boundaries.  With the new emphasis DEP is placing on pollutant reduction, municipalities may need to work together with their neighbors in order to meet their regulatory obligations.

Recognizing this, DEP is strongly encouraging collaboration in the 2018 permit cycle and in statewide training sessions provided in 2016.

The language of the permit instructions specifically addresses the formation of regional stormwater authorities:

“If a regional authority is created to administer stormwater management programs throughout multiple municipalities, the authority may apply on behalf of its municipalities using a single [form]. If DEP approves the [form], the permit will be issued in the name of the regional stormwater authority.”

DEP recognizes that collaboration between municipalities requires an agreement, which clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of each member. The formation of a stormwater authority is an effective means of forming this agreement, but many municipalities have historically questioned who would be responsible for permit compliance: the municipality or the authority.

By clearly stating that the permit responsibility will be issued to the authority, DEP eliminates this concern, clearing the path for authorities to form. This makes it possible for multiple municipalities to truly share responsibility equitably.

DEP suggests working with local sportsmen’s groups, environmental groups, colleges, and others on public education efforts required by MCMs 1 and 2 and long-term implementation of BMP installation.

Such collaboration is already occurring in some areas. For example:

The Paxton Creek Watershed Education Association, Manada Conservancy, and Penn State Extension have extended their services to municipalities for educational workshops on rain gardens, rain barrels, stream buffers, etc.

Lower Swatara, Middletown Borough, Royalton Borough, and Conewago Township have partnered together to identify similar stormwater program issues, opportunities for collaboration, and a funding plan to realize achievable goals. This effort is being fundedthrough a grant received by the Alliance for the Bay.

DEP encourages municipalities to check with their county government and other entities for mapping data. Many counties have mapping available that could provide a foundation for the MS4 mapping the permit requires.  Other sources for mapping layers include DEP, USGS, and the US Census Bureau.  (Note that these entities can provide general basemap-type layers, but municipalities will still most likely need to supplement this with specific data about their stormwater infrastructure.)

Municipalities can also work with their local sanitary sewer authority.

Some sewer authorities have pretreatment requirements for businesses that discharge sewage with contaminants that cannot be treated by the sewage plant. If a property like this has pretreatment requirements for its sewage, there is a chance its stormwater runoff may also be contaminated. If the sewer authority shared its list of businesses subject to pretreatment requirements with the municipality, it could help municipal staff identify potential pollutant sources (a new requirement associated with Pollution Control Measures and Pollutant Reduction Plans).

DEP continues to encourage cooperation with the county conservation district on construction and post-construction stormwater management plans.Many municipalities have been working with their county conservation district on this for several permit cycles.

In general, the paperwork associated with construction and post-construction stormwater management is now understood to be subject to Chapter 102 regulations. If those regulations are delegated to the conservation district, the municipality will not have to track anything for MCM 4 under its MS4 program.  (Illicit discharges will still be handled on a case-by-case basis, but they would likely be addressed under Chapter 102.)  BMP operation and maintenance continues to be a long-term responsibility for municipalities to track, but not necessarily perform, specifically.

silt fence at construction site

In Summary, Get Ready

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must meet federal water quality goals, and MS4 permittees are one piece of the overall watershed improvement plan. Wastewater improvements have been invested in for decades, agricultural accountability continues to improve, and urban stormwater (until proven to not be part of the water quality “problem”) continues to be a regulatory target.

The 2018 permit will require municipalities to more closely identify pollutant sources and begin mitigating them. New MS4s will have a steep learning curve, depending on their impaired watershed status and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.  This is over and above the job of getting acquainted with the new acronyms they need to “speak” and other permit obligations to perform.

The new permit application requires existing MS4s to complete their maps (if not completed to date) and requires many MS4s to create and publicly vet Pollutant Reduction Plans. It will take time to compile this information, so municipalities should begin preparing their 2018 permit application components now.

Some municipalities may be able to obtain a waiver that eliminates the Planning requirement, but they should preliminarily apply for that waiver before December 31, 2016.

Collaboration with other municipalities, the county, and local community groups can help a municipality meet the more stringent requirements of the 2018 permit cycle. DEP encourages this collaboration but does not require it.  Still, the language of the 2018 permit cycle specifically clears a path for collaboration by allowing regional authorities and less rigid coalitions to assume ownership of the MS4 permit obligations.  Local governments can stretch their tax dollars if they think less locally.

If you have questions about the 2018 MS4 permit requirements and pollutant reduction planning, please contact Erin Letavic.


As MS4 permit requirements continue to increase, many municipalities are wondering where they will find the funding to meet these requirements. A stormwater user fee program is one option to consider, and HRG can help you decide if it is the right choice for your municipality. Download our guide:

Determining If a Stormwater Utility Is Right for Your Community

Stormwater Utility GuideIt includes
• Answers to common questions about stormwater utilities
• Advice for how to build public consensus for stormwater fees
• An outline of the early steps you should take when investigating the feasibility of a stormwater utility

Download the guide at

www.hrg-inc.com/stormwater-utility-guide


Erin LetavicErin G. Letavic, P.E., is a project manager in HRG’s Civil Group. She guides municipalities and cooperative groups throughout Pennsylvania through the management of their MS4 permits, provides grant application development and administration services, and provides retained engineering services to local government.