Stormwater Utility Development

The Town of Chelmsford retained Weston & Sampson to assist with the development of a stormwater utility to fund town-wide stormwater management needs. Weston & Sampson worked from a comprehensive stormwater budget provided by the town that outlined their costs to comply with the 2016 MS4 permit; perform ongoing and future municipal activities related to system operation and maintenance, including the purchase of new equipment as needed; and implement planned capital improvement projects.

In order to determine how potential user fees may be calculated under a stormwater utility, Weston & Sampson obtained parcel-specific information from MassGIS, including town land use, zoning, and tax assessor’s information. Using May 2016 aerial imagery available from MassGIS, we developed a GIS feature class to describe the impervious surface on 1,250 residential and non-residential parcels located throughout town. For single-family residential parcels, a sample size was selected that was representative of the larger population. Surfaces greater than 10 square feet in contiguous area were included as part of the delineation. A series of class descriptions were established for each type of impervious surface, such as carport, deck, porch, building footprint (offset roof print), attached garage, detached garage, shed, driveway/paved area, patio, sidewalks/walkways, etc.

Since the town intended to include the stormwater fee associated with a particular parcel on that property owner’s sewer bill, we correlated the impervious area data to sewer account information, where available. Weston & Sampson examined how user fees may be calculated by the town based on the information available and assigned to individual parcels, and we evaluated various options to determine the revenue each might generate.

Weston & Sampson also provided a cursory review of potential abatements or reductions in the stormwater fee paid if the property owner takes specific measures focused on decreasing the impact of stormwater runoff on the municipal storm drain system.

As part of the project, Weston & Sampson also provided an overview of the stormwater fee systems currently in place in Massachusetts. The Town of Chelmsford formally adopted and established their stormwater enterprise fund in 2017.


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