By Conor Berry
The town's aging stormwater management system and stricter federal requirements to prevent pollutants from entering waterways are expected to lead to higher system maintenance costs for Agawam.
For years, storm system maintenance work has been funded through the town's general fund. But considering the age of the system and new permit requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, the cost of caring for the aging system is expected to increase significantly in the coming years, according to town officials.
Just how much costs will rise remains to be seen, which is why the Agawam Stormwater Advisory Task Force was recently formed. It's also why Amec Foster Wheeler, a global utility and energy consulting firm, is evaluating the town's current stormwater system.
To prepare for the changes, Agawam officials plan to meet next month with local business owners to receive feedback, review the progress of the Stormwater Task Force, and discuss options to meet future funding needs for the town's stormwater management program.
Michelle Chase, the town's engineer, and Patty Gambarini, principal environmental planner for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, are among the officials who are expected to be involved in these ongoing discussions.
Chase and Golba are both members of the Stormwater Task Force, a 10-member task force responsible for figuring out how to better fund Agawam's storm system and reduce pollutants from flowing into waterways.
Since its formation this past summer, the task force -- a mix of citizens and public officials -- has attended several meetings to learn more about stormwater management in Agawam, including current and projected program costs. More information about the task force is available online at www.agawam.ma.us/SW-TaskForce.