Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority Stormwater Fee Sparks Controversy

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WYOMING, Pa. -- Thousands of homeowners in Luzerne County opened their sewer bills this week, and many saw red.

The higher bill came in the form of a new fee that caught some homeowners and business owners off guard.

The fee results from a mandate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The federal government demands that as part of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, people in our area have to pay for ways to reduce pollution in the Susquehanna River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

People in 32 communities in Luzerne County pay sewer bills to the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority. The agency is now billing the owners of more than 85,000 homes, businesses, and empty lots a stormwater runoff fee.

The fee is earmarked for programs to reduce pollution in the Susquehanna River.

"It's hilarious to think that we're going to be charged because rain hits our property," said Cathy Dymond of Wyoming. "We can't stop where the rainwater wants to go."

Dymond got her quarterly WVSA bill at her home in Wyoming late last week. The runoff fee tacked on an extra $14 to her regular bill.

"Immediately, you see the bill is way more than it used to be," said Dymond.

Donna Gillis of the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority says the money will pay for repairing and replacing aging storm drains and catch basins that fail to stop dirty water flowing into the Susquehanna.

The money will also pay for educating people at public events on how to reduce pollution and how to start rain gardens that can soak up runoff water before it gets into the river.

"We're going to complete every project possible to get those pollutants down, but it's all going to be dictated by the EPA," said Gillis.

The Sanitary Authority bases its charges on the size of people's property.

A standard homeowner will pay about $5 a month. Large landowners and commercial and industrial plants pay more.

Many of those paying the fee are all for a cleaner river, but they wonder how they will know they're getting their money's worth.

The WVSA says federal and state agencies will monitor pollution levels, allowing the sanitary authority to see if its making progress.

"I think we're going to do a pretty good job," said Gillis.

Ann Edwards of Duryea doesn't mind as long as the fee delivers results.

"The rivers are going to be helping our children in the future, so why wouldn't you want to clean up the river?"

But most ratepayers call the fee unfair.

In Wyoming, Diamond wonders how the EPA can tell if the actions taken in Luzerne County will ultimately help the Chesapeake Bay.

"Are they going to go down to the Chesapeake Bay and send scuba divers down and, 'Oh, there's less coming from the area that the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority is taking care of.'''

The fee will last at least five years. The Sanitary Authority says it could be phased out if pollution levels in the Susquehanna River drop 10 percent by 2024.

18 comments

      • Silverfish Imperetrix

        …and due to the restructured voting districts (courtesy of Gov. Tom Wolf – d), we’re now represented by Rep. Matt Cartwright – d, and the WVSA is lousy with dems. Keep voting democrat, YOU DUMMIES.

      • Bee Cee

        Thank you. I have been researching and it does appear that this illegal taxation stems from an Executive Order signed by the former president. We the citizens must band together to FIGHT this illegal taxation and REFUSE TO PAY.

      • Silverfish Imperetrix

        You’re welcome. President Trump is trying to get rid of some of Obama’s disastrous EPA policies, but I’m not sure if this is one of them, and needless to say, what he’s trying to repeal is tied up in the courts again. (This is a variation on Maryland’s infamous ‘Rain Tax’ that was passed 3 years after Obama’s EO. The thing that really scares me is these dems sit around and do nothing but think insanity like this up.)

  • Matt Sekol

    i live in hanover twp and have 6 acre property , my bill went up approx $400 !!!!!!!!!!! from last year …… that is insane !!!!!! my rain gutters from my house drain directly into the ground so no run off from them !!!!!!!!! they say you can get credit if you put in rain barrels but isn’t having gutters drain directly into ground better !!!!!!! no mosquito breeding !!!!!! people need to protest this unfair fee and not pay it !!!!!!

  • Goyim (@Goyim16726071)

    My bill was for $174! They overestimated my properties non-pervious area by thousands of feet, putting me in tier 3. I called to have them send a person out to physically measure the property. I got a call back a few days later saying that they mistakenly calculated the road into my property assessment. Now my bill is at the tier 2 level. I recommend that everyone does some quick math to be sure your billed at the proper tier.

  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    If every home owner in the county simply deducts this “rate increase” from their payments and sends in their normal amount, what will the government be able to do? Confiscate every home in the county? I don’t think so. Unite and stop this farce.

    • Bob Stevens

      Then the EPA SWAT team kicks in your door, shoots your dog and beats the crap out of you for “resisting”. Then with asset forfeiture, say bye to your car, guns and anything else they think is cool.

  • Michael Pa Gusher

    I see in the time leader that New York people DON’T have to pay the tax. You can bet the sewer people will be hiring their friends for this issue and I will not go away in 5 years once they get the money they’ll find a way to keep it going.

  • sick-of-fake-news

    They say it’s $5 a month which downplays the increase. It’s a 25 PERCENT increase on your bill. That’s excessive and unwarranted. I want a full accounting of where this additional 25% is going. Will we ever get one? Doubtful.

  • Mike Bush

    this is like the emissions sticker on your car,do your homework,find out why its there and youre charged for it.itll never go away,greedy politicians

  • Don Augustine

    They say it could be phased out in 5 years, but it wont, because when they see how much money is generated they wont want to relinquish it. Because it will create political jobs and all the benefits and the Banks will utilize all the money. Now they must have an idea how much this fee will generate but they don’t tell you that, because how did they know what to set the fee as.

  • Jack Irvin

    Our government agencies have become criminal in the constant attachment of fees and taxes, this is ridiculous, they are literally taxing Americans into slavery, our government is way too big and needs to be cut down to size

  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    “The fee will last at least five years. The Sanitary Authority says it could be phased out if pollution levels in the Susquehanna River drop 10 percent by 2024.”

    Don’t wait by the phone. LMAO

  • Silverfish Imperetrix

    This naked money grab is just as ludicrous as Maryland’s ‘Rain Tax’. The Founding Fathers would have been shooting by now.

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