Spencer & Wimberly Bill to Reduce Stormwater Runoff, Pollution Gets Green Light from Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats L. Grace Spencer and Benjie Wimberly aimed at reducing runoff and pollution by improving stormwater utility systems was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

“Rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground or evaporated carries contaminants from lawns, streets, buildings and parking lots and deposits them into our water sources,” said Spencer (D-Essex), Chair of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. “Providing the tools to better manage this runoff will help us reduce pollution and protect our precious water bodies.”

“Better pollution control and treatment is needed to reduce the amount of contamination flowing into our local water bodies,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill will provide local bodies with the guidance and funding needed to do just that.”

Under the bill (A-1583), municipalities, counties and utility authorities would be authorized to regulate combined sewer overflows in order to manage stormwater runoff if they hold a combined sewer systems general permit or any other general permit required pursuant to the “Water Pollution Control Act.”

The bill would also allow these entities to finance the creation, operation and maintenance of storm water utility system through the imposition of user fees.

Additionally, the bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to create a stormwater utility guidance manual to provide guidance to counties, municipalities and authorities seeking to establish stormwater management systems.

The bill would require that 5 percent of the fees collected would be transferred to the DEP to fund program planning, implementation and coordination activities related to stormwater utilities and stormwater management systems authorized under the bill.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.