WHITMAN — Environmental Partners Project Manager Natalie Pommersheim discussed Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit status of the town’s storm water management plan, during the board’s Tuesday, May 24 meeting.
Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski noted that Select Board member Justin Evans had looked forward to the presentation, but could not attend the meeting since Evans’ wife had just had a baby.
“He had asked for it,” Kowalski said. “I said, ‘Gee, Justin, sorry you’re going to miss the meeting tonight, but you’ll be able catch it on WHCA at your convenience.”
Pommersheim said the consulting firm has been working with the Department of Public Works for several years on the town’s storm water MS4 permit and the DPW had wanted them to come provide the Select Board with an overview of the town’s requirements. Senior Scientist with EP, Vern Lincoln, also participated in the presentation.
They reviewed what the town has accomplished to date, what is being viewed as current permit tasks 4 and 5, as well as what future compliance and estimated costs.
The state’s Clean Water Act of the 1970s focused on pollution controls of wastewater discharges, with Phase 1 focusing on major cities of Boston, Worcester and Springfield in the 1990s and Phase 2 permit releases beginning in 2003 covering smaller municipalities. Final permits were co-issued by the EPA and DEP in 2016, going into effect in July 2018.
MS4 systems include all storm water infrastructure owned by the town of Whitman — catch basins, pipes, manholes, swales, ditches, outfalls and more.
The permit is divided into six minimum control measures (MCMs) and additional water control requirements that go along with it, which Lincoln reviewed. Education and outreach as well as public involvement and participation must be made available to the public in the first two measures. The third includes discharge — any discharge, spill or dumping not entirely composed of storm water — detection and elimination.
Annual training and reporting is required.
Construction site storm water runoff control regulated active sites, regulating runoff and sediment control procedures under Phase 4 and post-construction sites under Phase 5. Finally Phase 6 involves pollution control and “good housekeeping.”
“All the day-to-day public works activities come into play,” Lincoln said. “It requires the development of an operations and maintenance program, which includes yearly inspections and ongoing maintenance of the town’s storm water BMPs.”
Water quality limited waters emphasizes the impaired waters and watersheds the town contributes to including such impairments such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
To-date Whitman has completed all steps up to a bylaw and regulation review ahead of phases 5 and 6. The fourth-year proposed scope and budget has been pared back to $34,000, covering only things due in Phase 4 such as administrative reports, with another $72,000 expected to be the cost for Phase 5, but that, too was pared back to $34,000, again to cover only specific requirements.
“We do recommend that the town, in the future, find additional funds so that you can not only complete the things that are due this year, but to make progress to meet some year 10 goals,” Pommersheim said. “Storm water is kind of the lost and forgotten utility, but it is important.”
She said a lot of towns are hiring storm water managers or forming storm water committees, because DPWs alone can’t handle all the program components. Some communities are contemplating storm water fees or utilities to generate a consistent revenue source to fund consultant and permitting compliance and infrastructure improvements.