Gloucester County’s Leadership in Stormwater Management Helps Environment and Municipal Budgets
(Woodbury, NJ) – Just over 10 years ago, at a meeting with Gloucester County municipal mayors and administrators, then Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney and Freeholder Deputy Director Robert M. Damminger announced that the County would help municipalities meet the requirements of the recently enacted New Jersey stormwater rules through a regionalized plan.
The NJDEP final rules, which were published in 2004, required all municipalities and certain county operations to obtain permits for non-point source stormwater discharges, to adopt new stormwater standards for existing and new development, and to comply with a wide range of permit conditions.
Today Freeholder Director Robert Damminger said, "Since that point in time a decade ago, Gloucester County has completed an ambitious regionalized program that protect water quality, drinking water supplies and ecosystems. If each of our towns had to do alone what we did for them it would have crippled their budgets. “
A recent article published suggested that the creation of local stormwater utilities be created via legislation to manage stormwater.
Damminger said, “Through an economy of scale, the County led the way for its 24 towns to comply with the regulations by creating a Regionalized Stormwater Management Program that assisted the towns with some of the most costly municipal permit obligations."
“The County stepped up and offered to reduce the impact on municipal budgets by planning a regionalized approach to street sweeping, de-icing storage, public education, employee training, stormwater outfall mapping, illicit connection identification and elimination, outfall stream scour remediation, and the preparation of the required stormwater management plans and stormwater pollution prevention plans, as well as coordination. We did this without creating an additional authority or imposing fees on our taxpayers.”
In 2005 the Freeholders announced that the county would construct five regional salt storage facilities throughout the county as part of its Stormwater Management Program.
Because Gloucester County was the only county in the state that took a regionalizing approach to Stormwater Management they received a state grant to fund the construction of the salt storage sheds and other essential equipment.
Damminger credited NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney with bringing attention to the regionalization effort to receive the grant funding.
Senate President Sweeney said, “Ten years ago I said that the taxpayers want to see their governments working together toward solutions to issues like sharing and regionalizing services. I was optimistic then and remain optimistic today that throughout the state we can all keep working together to do more regionalization.”
Freeholder Director Damminger concluded, “Stormwater management is important to implement for the sake of our environment, but that they also would have come with a hefty price tag to our local towns. It made no sense for each of our municipalities to build their own salt storage shed facilities or purchase their own front-end loaders when we could regionalize this effort. The County put together this program to help our towns control non-point source pollution while saving tax dollars.”