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Cartwright Expands on Plan to Fund Stormwater Infrastructure Improvements

Dec 20, 2019
In The News

On Monday, Congressional leaders voted to approve two federal spending packages for the 2020 fiscal year. One of them includes $24 million to be spent on grants and programs to control polluted stormwater runoff in the Chesapeake Bay watershed region.

“I will do everything I can to reduce the local burden,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, who fought for the funds.

Cartwright, D-8, Moosic, wants to establish a grant program that would help ease the burden of municipalities and residents paying for stormwater infrastructure projects.

Currently, municipalities have either funded improvement projects through their own budget or through fees implemented by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority and the Dallas Area Municipal Authority.

Cartwright’s plan would have municipalities apply to receive grant money through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for their individual infrastructure improvement projects, with the amounts varying based on the plan.

He said his office would be “working closely” with the municipalities during the application process while a government watchdog agency would be assuring compliance.

Although the money comes out of the Treasury, which is funded by taxpayer money, taxes will not increase to accommodate the new amount because appropriations bills like these are made so local municipalities don’t have to rely on the residents.

Although Cartwright said his plan would decrease what local municipalities and residents are currently paying in stormwater fees, it would not completely erase the fees.

In a statement, the Wyoming Valley Sewer Authority said it appreciated all initiatives at reducing the costs of stormwater management and will work with all parties involved in doing so. However, the WVSA said it has no information at the time of publication on specific funding allocations.

“WVSA has applied for grant funding and continues to pursue additional opportunities for project cost saving,” the statement said.

State grants the WVSA has received thus far include $100,000 for pump station upgrades in Wilkes-Barre City (supporting stormwater and sanitary services) and $70,000 for GIS mapping of stormwater infrastructure. The WVSA has also received a Growing Green grant of $120,000 for planned stormwater management park in Plains Twp.

Pending stormwater, water supply, and sanitary sewer grants include the Swoyersville MS4 Creek Street Basin Retrofit project (applying for $200,000) and the MS4 Wyndtree Oak Stormwater Basin Retrofit ($400,000).

Pending small water and sewer grants include the Pittston City MS4 Demonstration Pervious Pavers and Rain Garden Project ($260,000) and the MS4 Mill Creek Stormwater Basin Retrofit ($422,000).

“Over time, it will help reduce the burden on the local taxpayers,” Cartwright said. “Every dollar I get from the federal government to do those projects and run down those (sediment) levels is a dollar our local homeowners don’t have to pay.”