Upton’s Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on August 2, 2016 to join the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition in appealing the stricter standards related to the EPA’s updated Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems General Permit (MS4).
The EPA updated MS4 earlier this year. The new permit significantly increased the regulations to manage stormwater within the Commonwealth’s waterways.
According to Town Manager Blythe Robinson, some of the new requirements are “simple and limited in costs” such as increasing public awareness, education, mapping pipes, and additional street sweeping. While some of the longer term requirements are “likely to have a significant cost increase.”
“Whatever regulations that they put in the place for this we do believe that they make sense but it will come at a cost to the Town,” said Chairman Jim Brochu. “Can you honestly control what ends up in a stream or a pipe in an overflow,” he said.
“We are looking at the possibility of joining multiple towns and cities with respect to sending a legal document or a letter and an appeal to the EPA to ask to slow down the process a little bit,” he said.
Worcester reached out to a legal firm who has agreed to take on the appeal on behalf of all the communities that want to join. According to Robinson the firm has promised to keep the cost under $100,000.
“Whether we join or we don’t join, if they (legal firm) are successful in this all the communities will enjoy that relief,” said Robinson.
Upton can join the Coalition at no cost because the Coalition of Central MA is using monies from dues. Upton is one of the thirty members of the Coalition.
Robinson said the Town could also join the Appeal on its own as the Town of Upton for $500.
“As I understand it, we would be foolish for zero costs not to participate. I’d advocate joining into this,” said Selectman Bob Fleming.
“I think we have to do it,” said Selectman Daugherty. “I was looking at one report, they say it would cost Franklin sixty-two million a year,” he said.
DPW Director Vincent Roy said, “The EPA conducted a study five years ago with three towns; Bellingham, Franklin, and Milford. Franklin’s cost alone they estimated at about twenty-six million dollars to implement all the new required standards. That’s one community.”
“I think it’s important that they need to hear from us that we have strong concerns about this. We’re not saying what they are asking for doesn’t make sense but they need to work with the towns and not produce an unfunded mandate,” said Brochu. “I think we would be foolish not to join the coalition,” said Brochu.
The Board voted unanimously to join the Central MA Coalition in appealing the stricter standards related to the EPA’s updated Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems General Permit (MS4).