Stormwater Utilities – Progress Expected in 2020
In early 2019, the Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act was signed into law by Governor Murphy. The Act authorizes (but does not require) counties and municipalities to establish stormwater utilities “for the purposes of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining, and operating stormwater management systems” and to impose fees on property owners or occupants to cover the costs of managing stormwater that enters the stormwater management system or waters of the State. Given the heavy flooding that some major New Jersey municipalities have experienced in recent years, the addition of this enabling legislation has been viewed by some as a major advance toward addressing this problem, though viewed by others as nothing more than a new taxing mechanism.
To date there has not been much activity associated with the passage of this legislation. This could change in the coming year as a renewed emphasis is placed on resiliency planning by the Murphy Administration (see article above). To that end, in a recent stakeholder invitation, NJDEP indicated that during 2019 it had begun the process to develop guidance in a number of areas crucial to establishing stormwater utilities as required by the Act. That included researching existing stormwater utilities across the country, holding preliminary conversations with other State agencies and interested parties and beginning to develop the framework for a website to serve as a guidance repository. Stakeholder meetings are expected to begin in January.