Despite efforts to minimize stormwater pollution and improve water quality, the Town of Danvers continues to struggle with stormwater management issues. Seventy-five percent of its water bodies are listed as Category 5 or impaired waters under the state's surface water quality standards. As the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements evolve and management costs increase, the Town resolved to develop a sustainable revenue source for the Town's stormwater management program. With funding from the Mass Bays Research and Planning grant program, the Town hired Woodard & Curran to conduct a cost evaluation, gap analysis and funding source evaluation to identify the best method for generating sustainable funding for municipal stormwater management. This project also included soliciting stakeholder input to understand the drivers for developing a stormwater utility.
The Town currently funds a robust stormwater management program. However, the study revealed that funds anticipated to cover future needs for both regulatory compliance and drainage system operation and maintenance is expected to roughly double stormwater expenditures in the next five to ten years. At the end of a stakeholder meeting, which included a presentation on Danvers’ stormwater management program and the merits of implementing an impervious-based stormwater fee to generate revenue, 77% of the audience was in favor of moving forward with the plan to improve stormwater services. It was thought that equitable distribution of costs, potential sewer rate reduction, pollution control, and beach closure prevention were sufficient justifications for developing a stormwater utility program. A stormwater user fee could generate sufficient revenue to support an enhanced program.
This study is a first step by the Town to consider a stormwater utility to fund their evolving stormwater program, to operate and maintain the Town’s drainage infrastructure to meet the needs of residents and property owners, and to protect public health and the environment. In order to continue moving forward with the formal evaluation of a stormwater utility, the Town will create a broader “stakeholder” group comprised of members of the Danvers Stormwater Committee, residents, businesses and environmental groups. The purpose of the Stakeholder group will be to guide the next steps and work with the community to gain its support. The Stakeholder Group will work with and inform the Danvers Board of Selectmen of their findings and request support in moving forward with the creation of a Stormwater Management Business Plan.
A detailed description of the assessment and stakeholder engagement process are provided in the project report: Town of Danvers Sustainable Stormwater Study. Woodard & Curran. 2012.