GREENCASTLE — A Pennsylvania Senate committee will hold a hearing in Antrim Township next month concerning stormwater management and the costs associated with fulfilling Chesapeake Bay cleanup and MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permit requirements.

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing, open to the public, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, in Antrim Brethren in Christ Church. Several local representatives are scheduled to testify.

"It isn’t every day that we host a Senate hearing in Antrim Township, or Franklin County for that matter, and it’s regarding a topic that is certainly a hot-button for many of the municipalities and the county as well," Brad Graham, Antrim Township administrator, said. "I would love to see a lot of people attend to show the senators how big of a concern this topic is."

State Sen. Judy Ward, a Republican whose 30th District includes Greencastle and Antrim Township, is not a member of the committee, but asked Sen. Gene Yaw, its chairman, to hold the hearing.

"Stormwater management is a major issue facing municipalities in the 30th District, and many local leaders are facing difficult decisions in order to meet mandated MS4 requirements," Ward said. "I requested the hearing and wanted to host it in the Greencastle area because of concerns that have been expressed from elected officials, community leaders, businesses and residents in that region about the impact of the recently enacted stormwater fees. I believe that it will be very beneficial for members of the committee to hear first-hand about the various approaches municipalities are taking, the challenges they are facing and the impacts resulting from these mandates.

"The stormwater requirements of the federal Clean Water Act are administered under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) program. Many municipalities in Pennsylvania are required to implement a stormwater management program for minimizing the impacts from stormwater runoff," she explained. "Elected officials and community leaders from many parts of the district have complained that these stormwater requirements administered by the DEP under its MS4 program are very expensive to implement, creating a heavy burden on municipalities and ultimately the residents and businesses who will pay the price through taxes and fees. The purpose of the hearing is to give some of these impacted communities an opportunity to share their stories with members of the committee, including the various approaches they are using and the associated costs."

The Borough of Greencastle implemented a fee to fund MS4, other stormwater management projects and a stormwater utility in June. The average residential fee is $172 a year and the Greencastle-Antrim School District is facing the largest bill, $47,000 a year.

Brian Harbaugh of JCH Associates is among those who will testify at the hearing. His new stormwater bill for the business in the borough is around $14,000 a year. He also owns Precision Manufacturing and Engineering in Antrim Township, where a fee is set to being in 2020.

In addition to Harbaugh, those scheduled to speak include Eden Ratliff, Greencastle borough manager; Ben Thomas Jr., Greencastle mayor and manager of Cumberland Township in Adams County, which also is facing MS4 requirements; Sylvia House, Antrim Township zoning officer; representatives of the Intergovernmental Stormwater Committee and Antis Township in Blair County; Department of Environmental Protection; and possibly others.

The bulk of the money generated by stormwater fees is earmarked for sediment reduction, which has been identified as the most cost-effective way to meet the Bay cleanup standards. Greencastle and Antrim Township are looking at a joint stream bank restoration project for sediment reduction. Costs for Antrim Township are $2.8 million in the current five year-permit cycle, while Greencastle's costs, including the storm water utility and other stormwater management projects, are above $600,000 a year.

"I am concerned about the tremendous financial burden the MS4 mandates are placing on municipalities, businesses and residents," Ward said. "The impact of these regulations on taxpayers is significant and alarming and may result in considerable negative economic impacts over time."

Other meetings, discussions and hearings have been held on this topic, including a joint House Environmental Resources/House Local Government Committee hearing on June 19.

Attendance at the Sept. 11 meeting has not been finalized, but Ward said at this point three or four senators are expected.

Members of the public will probably not be allowed to speak, but can give input through Ward's email:

Or to Nick Troutman, the executive director of the Senate Environmental Resources Committee, at: