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The original item was published from 12/28/2017 11:42:22 AM to 1/17/2018 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: December 28, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Workshop for Agawam Businesses- Stormwater Management

Workshop for Agawam Businesses – Agawam’s Stormwater Program: Needs and Funding Options


CONTACTS: Michelle Chase, Town Engineer, Town of Agawam (413) 821-0625
                       Patty Gambarini, Principal Environmental Planner, Pioneer Valley| Planning Commission, (413) 781-6045

December 22, 2017

Learning about stormwater management in Agawam.

When rainfall hits the ground, it can move in mysterious ways. If it hits natural ground, it often soaks in. If it hits a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, or roadway, chances are it will run off into the nearest street drain, move through a series of pipes and then out to a nearby stream, and the Westfield and Connecticut Rivers. But it can pool or back up in many places as well, especially where the drainage system itself is failing.

In Agawam, the Public Works Department maintains some 4,757 street drains (aka catch basins), 122 miles of drain pipe, and 2,352 manholes to convey storm flows to the Town's 512 outfalls that outlet to waterways (which themselves involve some 3.2 miles of culverts maintained by Public Works). To most of us, this storm system is invisible. Only when things start to fall apart or fail, does it become clear that this infrastructure is critically important. While roughly 17% of this system was installed in the last 30 years, the rest of the system is much older or the age is unknown.

At the same time, important new Clean Water Act permit requirements seek to reduce polluted storm flows from developed areas to rivers and streams. These requirements entail water quality sampling within the storm system, promoting stormwater management practices that better soak up rather than convey rainfall, and more frequent street sweeping and street drain cleaning, among other actions. Public Works Director Chris Golba notes, "When you align proper care of our aging storm system with these new permit requirements, we have our work cut out for us."

In the summer of 2017, a 10-member Stormwater Advisory Task Force was formed which includes Agawam residents, business owners, clergy members, City Councilors and Agawam Public Works officials.  The purpose of this Task Force is to help figure out how to better fund the work of caring for the storm system and reduce polluted flows from developed areas.

For years, storm system work has been funded through the Town's General Fund. With the age of the system and expanded Clean Water Act permit requirements, the level of effort and costs for this work will increase significantly. The amount of this increase is something that consultant Amec Foster Wheeler is evaluating for the Task Force through interviews with Public Works officials about the system, and careful review of available data and effort needed to meet permit requirements over the next 5 years and beyond.

Since its formation, the Task Force has attended five meetings in order to educate the members about stormwater and how it is managed in Agawam, including current and projected program costs. Also, there have been two public meetings for the purpose of engaging, educating and eliciting comments from Agawam government officials and senior citizen residents.  At this time, the Public Works Department is requesting a meeting with local business owners on January 16, 2017, in order to review the progress of the Task Force, discuss options to meet the future funding needs for the Stormwater Management program, and incorporate feedback from business owners.

More information about the Task Force and the current Stormwater Management program, including informational documents and presentations from former Task Force meetings, can be found on the Town of Agawam website:

Members of the Stormwater Advisory Task Force are: City Councilors Christopher Johnson, and Robert Rossi, Former City Councilor James Cichetti, Former Mayor Susan Dawson, Resident Herbert Holl, Reverend Rob Donaldson, Conservation Commissioner Henry Kosloski, Allied Flooring and Paint Owner Mario Tedeschi, Six Flags New England Facilities Manager Dave Jenks, Public Works Director Chris Golba, and Town Engineer Michelle Chase.



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