Workshop for Agawam
Businesses – Agawam’s Stormwater Program: Needs and Funding Options
Chase, Town Engineer, Town of Agawam (413) 821-0625
Principal Environmental Planner, Pioneer Valley| Planning Commission,
December 22, 2017
stormwater management in Agawam.
When rainfall hits the
ground, it can move in mysterious ways. If it hits natural ground, it often
soaks in. If it hits a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, or roadway, chances are
it will run off into the nearest street drain, move through a series of pipes
and then out to a nearby stream, and the Westfield and Connecticut Rivers. But
it can pool or back up in many places as well, especially where the drainage
system itself is failing.
In Agawam, the Public
Works Department maintains some 4,757 street drains (aka catch basins), 122
miles of drain pipe, and 2,352 manholes to convey storm flows to the Town's 512
outfalls that outlet to waterways (which themselves involve some 3.2 miles of
culverts maintained by Public Works). To most of us, this storm system is
invisible. Only when things start to fall apart or fail, does it become clear
that this infrastructure is critically important. While roughly 17% of this
system was installed in the last 30 years, the rest of the system is much older
or the age is unknown.
At the same time,
important new Clean Water Act permit requirements seek to reduce polluted storm
flows from developed areas to rivers and streams. These requirements entail
water quality sampling within the storm system, promoting stormwater management
practices that better soak up rather than convey rainfall, and more frequent
street sweeping and street drain cleaning, among other actions. Public Works
Director Chris Golba notes, "When you align proper care of our aging storm
system with these new permit requirements, we have our work cut out for
In the summer of 2017,
a 10-member Stormwater Advisory Task Force was formed which includes Agawam
residents, business owners, clergy members, City Councilors and Agawam Public
Works officials. The purpose of this Task
Force is to help figure out how to better fund the work of caring for the storm
system and reduce polluted flows from developed areas.
For years, storm system
work has been funded through the Town's General Fund. With the age of the
system and expanded Clean Water Act permit requirements, the level of effort
and costs for this work will increase significantly. The amount of this
increase is something that consultant Amec Foster Wheeler is evaluating for the
Task Force through interviews with Public Works officials about the system, and
careful review of available data and effort needed to meet permit requirements
over the next 5 years and beyond.
Since its formation,
the Task Force has attended five meetings in order to educate the members about
stormwater and how it is managed in Agawam, including current and projected
program costs. Also, there have been two public meetings for the purpose of
engaging, educating and eliciting comments from Agawam government officials and
senior citizen residents. At this time,
the Public Works Department is requesting a meeting with local business owners on
January 16, 2017, in order to review the progress of the Task Force, discuss
options to meet the future funding needs for the Stormwater Management program,
and incorporate feedback from business owners.
More information about
the Task Force and the current Stormwater Management program, including
informational documents and presentations from former Task Force meetings, can
be found on the Town of Agawam website: http://www.agawam.ma.us/SW-TaskForce.
Members of the
Stormwater Advisory Task Force are: City Councilors Christopher Johnson, and
Robert Rossi, Former City Councilor James Cichetti, Former Mayor Susan Dawson,
Resident Herbert Holl, Reverend Rob Donaldson, Conservation Commissioner Henry
Kosloski, Allied Flooring and Paint Owner Mario Tedeschi, Six Flags New England
Facilities Manager Dave Jenks, Public Works Director Chris Golba, and Town
Engineer Michelle Chase.