Norwalk is among 36 cities that have spent the last six months working on a plan to meet yet another Environmental Protection Agency mandate. What it will and how it will be paid for has not yet been determined, but the two most likely sources of revenue are fee increases or a tax increase.
Safety Service Director Dale Sheppard said the city still is in the planning phase of the new mandate, which deals specifically with pollution discharge permits and handling runoff from rainstorms. The city will submit a plan to the EPA by March 15.
Local governments are required to regulate storm water to make sure the pollutants that collect on driveways, roads and parking lots are treated before the water returns to streams and possibly contaminates drinking water sources. The plans require public education about preventing water pollution, and require the cities to plan how to detect and eliminate the runoff. Costs include extra employees and construction of sewer systems.
The EPA will review the city's plan and determine if it is meeting expectations in all six areas it has outlined. Once the EPA approves the city's plan, the administration can generate a cost estimate and address the best way to pay for the required improvements, Sheppard said.
"Depending on if EPA approves plan, it could cost us more than what we anticipate, so I'd be a little leery to say we have a plan in place as to how we're going to pay for it," he said, but added an increase to sewer and water rates or a tax increase were the most likely ways the city would address the cost.
Following plan approve, the city will have until 2011 to fully implement the improvements, which will be "phased in" over that time.