Stormwater Authorities

On July 9, 2013 Act 68 of 2013 was signed into law authorizing an additional approved scope for municipal authorities: stormwater planning, management and implementation. Under this Act, municipalities can now create authorities that develop financing and acquire, hold, construct, finance, improve, maintain and operate stormwater facilities, whether by ownership or lease. Existing authorities may be amended to include stormwater as a part of their scope.

The Municipality Authorities Act allows multiple municipalities to create a joint stormwater authority; this is particularly valuable, since stormwater doesn’t follow municipal boundaries. This would allow the parent municipalities to approach and manage stormwater on a regional level, based on the watershed area.

Authorities, a legislative creation of the commonwealth, have long been used for projects in Pennsylvania for authorized scopes including generally water, sewer, parking, solid waste, and recreation. The typical authority is established by a municipality or group of municipalities who share a common service, and can easily administer individual municipal or joint regional projects regardless of municipal boundaries. Regional Municipal Authorities, based on watershed boundaries, provide an ability to span municipal boundaries, and allow for watersheds to be managed in a more logical manner. The regional focus on a service area based on joint need, topography, or some other criteria creates an economy of scale and efficiency of operation.

Members of the authority are appointed by the parent municipality or municipalities and operate as an independent governmental agency. The ability to create stormwater authorities would allow appointees to have resumes focused on the expanding regulatory requirements, expenses and impacts of this portion of the infrastructure. Authorities can efficiently focus on a specific service, much like a public utility, and identify projects, establish financing, and levy user charges. This frees the parent municipality or municipalities from a specific municipal operation and its administration and financing.

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