Stormwater Authority FAQ's

Stormwater Solutions for Safer Neighborhoods

Communities Working Together
Many of our residents will recall the catastrophic flooding that severely impacted our communities in the summer of 2019. In the wake of that flooding the Butler County Commissioners called a meeting of all municipal officials from throughout the County in the fall of that year.  Their plea was to find ways to work together to mitigate future flooding impacts on our residents and businesses. Their message was clear, stormwater does not respect municipal boundaries and under Pennsylvania law, stormwater management and floodplain management are a responsibility of local government. Ten communities in southwest Butler County accepted that call and began meeting in late 2019, those communities were Adams, Cranberry, Evans City, Forward, Harmony, Lancaster, Penn, Seven Fields and Zelienople. The group is called the Southwest Butler Stormwater Planning Group. These meetings have resulted in significantly improved intermunicipal cooperation. Collectively they undertook a multi-municipal Stormwater Study on the watersheds impacting their communities. That Study identified the needed improvements along with suggested regulatory updates.

The Southwest Butler Water Stormwater

Improved Regulations Across the Watershed
As a results of that work, all of the municipalities in the Group updated their stormwater management regulations to be consistent across the watersheds, enhanced their floodplain management abilities and improved their dialogue with state and legal authorities.  Throughout this process, the County Commissioners have been strong supporters of this effort, and in 2022 announced a major funding program, called the Municipal Infrastructure Program, that financially supports municipal stormwater improvements.  The Group was perfectly positioned due to their advance work and applied for grants to fund the projects they collectively identified in their watersheds. The members of the Group received $5,777,867 in funding to advance $9,718,867 in funding to advance 22 projects within the Group.

Additional Investments Needed to Continue the Work

The Group continues to work collaboratively on implementing these capital projects.  However, the Group understood these grant funds were only one-time investments and additional investments are needed both in capital projects and in the operation and maintenance of existing facilities. A sub-group of the larger Group, those being Evans City, Harmony, Jackson and Zelienople, realized the costs of needed capital improvements and the maintenance of their existing systems exceeding their ability to fund.  They are also experiencing the additional costs that are a result of unfunded state and federal mandate upon their responsibilities in stormwater management.

For the three boroughs the only way they can increase investment into stormwater work is to either reduce other municipal services, such as street maintenance and public safety and/or raise taxes.  Under Pennsylvania state law, only municipal authorities and townships of the second class can levy a stormwater fee.  The four communities collaboratively determined they would all be best served by a regional municipal authority dedicated to stormwater work.  That is where we are now, with each governing body of those communities considering the official creation of the Southwest Butler Stormwater Authority.

Southwest Butler Stormwater Authority FAQ's

What is stormwater and why is it a concern for the four communities?

What are Stormwater Management Programs?

What is a base rate utility and who pays it?

Are property owners who don’t use public sewer and water part of the   base rate utility?

Why not use the communities’ General Funds to absorb these costs?

If the stormwater rate is to generate funds to replace the dollars currently coming from the General Fund, how are those General Fund dollars being re-purposed?

What is mandated?

Why is this a utility?

What is considered a developed property?

What is the proposed Southwest Butler Stormwater Authority?

What's the basis for the utility system management approach?

How will the proposed stormwater management utility programs be implemented?

What about commercial properties?

How will the proposed Stormwater Authority calculate impervious surfaces for commercial properties?

What if my house is smaller than my neighbor's house?

What’s the difference between a publicly or privately-owned stormwater system?

How is this utility different from a tax?

How does the appeal process work?

Provide me with a brief summary of what is happening here?

How will the proposed stormwater fee be collected?

How do I know how many ERUs have been assigned to my property?

How will the funds generated by the Stormwater Fee be distributed?

Will there be other opportunities to attract additional grants to benefit stormwater projects within the four incorporating municipalities?

How will funds be distributed by the proposed authority?

Why this fee, why not have the County assume this responsibility and cost?

For additional information about the proposed Southwest Butler Stormwater Authority, please contact the following: