Shelburne wins coveted “Stormy” award

Shelburne Water Quality Superintendent Chris Robinson and South Burlington Stormwater Manager Tom DiPietro.
Shelburne Water Quality Superintendent Chris Robinson and South Burlington Stormwater Manager Tom DiPietro.

It may be called “Stormy,” but a recent award from The New England Stormwater Collaborative has some people in Shelburne feeling rather sunny. The town garnered recognition for its collaboration with South Burlington in the “Development of Regional Inter-municipal Stormwater Programs.”

Shelburne’s partner in the project, South Burlington, nominated the town for the award. Water Quality Superintendent Chris Robinson and South Burlington Stormwater Manager Tom DiPietro will present the partnership at the annual award show and conference in Mystic, CT.

The town competed against 14 others and was one of three winners of the 2015 Stormy award–and the smallest. The others were Boston Water and Sewer Commission for “Leveraging Boston School System Master Planning for Green Infrastructure Implementation” and Connecticut River Watershed Council for “Integration of Art and Science for Stormwater Program Outreach.”

The project that gained the town an award was born out of a need to address the multitude of stormwater regulations facing it. These include things such as the Vermont MS4 permit, a stormwater total maximum daily load (TMDL) for Munroe Brook, and a phosphorus TMDL for Lake Champlain. The compliance with these various regulations can require a significant amount of staff time and capital investment.

The partnership between the two neighboring towns offers a worthwhile economic component, Robinson said. He credits DiPietro, as being instrumental in the development of the partnership.

DiPietro, Robinson said, has been talking about regionalization of services for about ten years. This partnership that was born in 2015, however, is the first time that it has come to fruition. It allows for Shelburne to benefit from South Burlington’s expertise in managing stormwater.

The two towns are currently working together. Already, the town’s budget includes a $50,000-line item for stormwater management, and some tasks are already being handled by South Burlington.

Town Manager Joe Colangelo said that a stronger contract will go into effect. He described the project as a cost-effective way to address Shelburne’s current and future stormwater needs. The contract that will soon go into effect will allow South Burlington to complete certain stormwater tasks such street sweeping, storm drain cleaning, stormwater system inspection and inventory using GIS, stormwater plan review for local private sector development projects and management of State stormwater permits.

The partnership does not only benefit Shelburne, of course. The funding and political support for stormwater management in Shelburne translates to allowing South Burlington to increase the number of staff that it employs without being the sole bearer of the costs.

“I just really do hope that this becomes a model for other municipalities,” Robinson said.

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