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Murray Wants to Sue EPA

Horsley Whitten Group projected the Town of

Milford would have to spend $67.4 million in capital costs to comply with the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed stormwater management regulations.

Nine months after their $300,000 federally funded engineering study began, consultants hired by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have determined that the cost to implement the EPA's proposed stormwater management regulations in Milford are close to the $63.8-million to $110-million range that Town Engineer Michael Santora has been saying they would be since as far back as February, 2010 – much higher costs than what EPA officials predicted in the late spring of 2010.

Upon learning that the consultants' numbers matched Milford's, Selectman Brian Murray urged his colleagues at his board's July 25 meeting to consider suing the EPA – and enlisting other affected communities to join that suit – to stop the federal agency from implementing its regulations. "We've tried the political channels with limited success," he said.

Milford would have to spend $5.2 million per year and homeowners would have to pay an $18 per month "stormwater utility fee" in order to meet the EPA's five-year stormwater management implementation time frame, Santora said in a July 21 report to the Board of Selectmen. "The results validate the town's original fears of an exorbitantly expensive unfunded mandate," he said.

"Once the estimates were done, it came out pretty close to what we were talking about," Selectmen Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis said. "This is so big that a community can't absorb this type of money without some kind of aid," he said, adding that the costs "would bankrupt any community." He called for a meeting of area communities affected by the EPA's proposed regulations later this month to discuss the EPA consultants' findings.

"It looks like this Horsley [Whitten] Group has pretty much agreed with the Town of Milford's estimates over costs," said Selectman William Buckley. He added that Santora summed up the feeling toward a stormwater utility when the engineer wrote: "The creation of a locally funded stormwater utility would result in a very expensive additional yearly fee for the local taxpayer and approval of such a fee at Town Meeting would most likely be extremely difficult."

Last fall, the EPA hired the Horsley Whitten Group (HW) of Sandwich to help Milford, Bellingham and Franklin study the federal agency's proposed Charles River stormwater runoff management regulations. The three towns are the first in the Charles River watershed to have to implement new regulations proposed by the EPA to reduce the discharge of phosphorous into the watershed. Implementation of the new regulations was supposed to have started at the beginning of this calendar year.

At a public forum held in Franklin in May, 2010, EPA officials projected the cost of compliance with the new regulations as ranging from $5,100 to $117,600 per acre, depending upon soil types in affected areas. Anyone in Milford, Bellingham and Franklin with impervious surfaces – roofs and pavement – larger than two acres must comply with the new regulations. At the same forum, the Charles River Watershed Association – which is advocating the new regulations – predicted the cost of implementing them would be between $5.1 million and $12.8 million.

The Town of Milford – aided by GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., consultants helping the town with the EPA's current regulations – calculated its higher numbers in early 2009.

A "stormwater utility" fee to be paid by homeowners to fund the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed stormwater management regulations would cost differing amount if costs were paid for with bonds covering five, 10, 15 or 20 years of infrastructure improvements.


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