Western New York Stormwater Coalition: Compliance through Collaboration
The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning initiated a regional strategy to assist the local municipal governments from Erie and Niagara Counties in understanding and complying with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Phase II Stormwater regulations. This strategy included formation of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition (WNYSC), a group consisting of representatives of Erie County, Niagara County, several local and state government agencies, 41 regulated municipalities and environmental consultants.
For the past six years, the members of the Coalition have met on a monthly basis to collaborate on the development and implementation of a comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan. The Coalition utilizes a workgroup format to address the six minimum controls that the regulations require. Each workgroup is responsible for their respective components of the Stormwater Management Plan. To date, development and implementation of the Stormwater Management Plan is an unfunded mandate. The formation of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition provides an opportunity for the regulated communities to share resources and work in partnership toward compliance with the Phase II Stormwater requirements.
The Coalition recently partnered with Buffalo State, State University of New York, in obtaining funding fromthe U.S. EPA to conduct a demonstration trackdown of illicit connections to the stormwater system. The experiences of the Coalition in dealing with the unfunded stormwater mandate is discussed, including the development of a cost-effective trackdown program. As Chastant (2005) notes, state and federal regulations are imposing stricter control on stormwater quality and quantity and to help meet many of these unfunded mandates it can be helpful to share local ideas and experiences. Tucker and Harrison (2006) emphasize that there is good potential for cost savings when local governments can work in partnership to implement control measures required in the stormwater permit.
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