On July 9, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed SB 351, legislation that gives municipalities the ability to form stormwater utilities. These new authorities will coordinate planning and implementation of stormwater programs by region or watershed. The stormwater utilities can levy a fee to fund programs that address stormwater pollution and flooding.

Many Pennsylvania municipalities were hesitant to create such authorities before, due to fear of legal challenges.

The ability to create stormwater utilities should help Pennsylvania face stormwater challenges, including managing flooding throughout the Susquehanna River Basin and curtailing nutrient and sediment pollution reaching Chesapeake Bay. This law may also help municipalities with consent decrees, such as Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

In addition, it will help the state consolidate responsibility for stormwater management. According to an American Rivers blog, responsibility for land use — and thus runoff — in Pennsylvania is managed by more than 2500 municipalities. Of all the nation’s small urban municipalities eligible to hold stormwater permits, nearly one-sixth are in Pennsylvania.