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Water Resource Enhancement Program Designed to Cut Municipal Costs, Improve Water Quality

Representatives from some of the 14 municipalities that have joined WREP participated in a signing ceremony at the Dauphin County Commissioners meeting on Dec. 14, 2022: From left, County Commissioner George Hartwick; Lower Swatara Township MS4 Coordinator Brian Davis; East Hanover Township MS4 & Planning Coordinator Stephanie Harman; Hummelstown Borough Manager Theresa Eberly; South Hanover Township Manager Lynn Wuestner; West Hanover Township Manager Michael Gossert; TCRPC Executive Director Steve Deck; County Commissioner Chad Saylor; Dauphin County Planning Commission Vice Chairman Robert Spangler; County Commissioner Mike Preis; and West Hanover Township Authority Chairman Robert Fowler.

In recent years, Dauphin County’s municipalities have faced a growing range of stormwater management, water quality and flooding issues. Costs for addressing these issues are rising due to the increasing complexity of the impacts and environmental regulations associated with stormwater management.

To address this issue, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) has been working with the Dauphin County Commissioners to create a regional Water Resource Enhancement Program (WREP) that would provide a central framework, offer strategic partnerships and coordinate efforts between municipalities, thereby cutting municipal costs by up to 90 percent.

In addition to saving taxpayer dollars, this voluntary program will save considerable time and effort for participating municipalities by enabling them to participate in regionalized services.

"It’s important to note that this program is meant to enhance, not replicate or replace, existing stormwater management programs, and will not create new fees," TCRPC Executive Director Steve Deck said. "The overall savings, however, will rely on participation. The more municipalities that to work together and share costs, the more money they will save."

The first project undertaken under WREP was the Conewago Creek Restoration Project, a watershed-based approach to fulfill MS4 requirements, reduce local flooding and improve local water quality in Londonderry Township. The MS4 benefits for sediment reduction were available to be shared with other municipalities in the watershed (Middletown and Steelton Boroughs and Lower Swatara Township) at a cost-effective rate thanks to the efforts of Londonderry Township in securing grant funding and to Dauphin County’s contribution through a recent grant from the PA Department of Environmental Protection. Participants were able to buy into this project through WREP at savings ranging between 60 and 90 percent, compared to previous projects proposed individually.

Beyond the cost savings, all residents will benefit from better flood prevention and improved water quality for the region’s streams and groundwater. The Dauphin County Board of Commissioners support the program due to its many benefits and the potential for cost savings, especially as more municipalities sign on.

Fourteen municipalities have joined WREP thus far. Other municipalities are welcome to join the program as it advances in the future.

Municipalities wishing to learn more can contact Jerry Duke at TCRPC.


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