Chester, Pa., puts community-based public-private partnership into practice

The Stormwater Authority of the City of Chester (CSWA; Pa.) and Corvias (East Greenwich, R.I.) on June 6 joined PENNVEST, the Chester Water Authority, and US Environmental Protection Agency Region III to announce a $50 million initiative that will finance, construct and maintain over 142 ha (350 ac) of integrated green stormwater infrastructure (GSI).

The effort will feature the use of tools explained within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III guide, Community-Based Public-Private Partnership (CBP3) and Alternative Market-Based Tools for Integrated Green Stormwater Infrastructure: A Guide for Local Governments. This guide helps accelerate the implementation of stormwater and other related infrastructure in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner, saving ratepayer dollars while growing the local economy.

Long-term partnership

Chester’s newly established stormwater authority is working with private partner Corvias to affordably design, construct, and maintain green infrastructure (GI). The pair also will leverage opportunities in other local infrastructure improvements, such as streets, schools, housing, and parks. This partnership will span over the next 20 to 30 years. It will spur economic growth and development and create hundreds of local jobs, as well as improve quality of life and water quality in this highly urbanized region of the Delaware River watershed.

CBP3 approach

The CBP3 approach was developed to better accommodate affordable, large-scale, multi-beneficial GI implementation and operation and maintenance. The CBP3 includes some features of the traditional public-private partnership (P3) model, but has significant modifications that meet the unique requirements of stormwater management systems. Additional features focus specifically on proactive planning around GI investments that provide for local economic growth and improved quality of life in urban and underserved communities.

“When we are able to approach problem-solving proactively through partnership, rather than reactively, we can unlock greater value for communities like the City of Chester at a critical juncture in their history,” according to John Picerne, Corvias founder.

According to Dr. Horace Strand, director of the new Stormwater Authority, “this community-based public-private partnership approach in Chester will not only help to attract and leverage greater capital investments in Chester through our new Stormwater Authority’s dedicated utility fees, but very importantly, drive and enable the desperately needed jobs and economic development opportunities that also result in water quality and quantity improvements for the sustainability for Chester.”

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