City takes aim at stormwater (copy)

Stevens Brook is seen in April 2018. St. Albans Town has hired Emmalee Cherington to run its stormwater utility, which will fund reconstruction projects on watersheds such as Stevens and Rugg brooks.

ST. ALBANS TOWN — The town’s recently established stormwater utility now has a leader. On Thursday, Emmalee Cherington was named stormwater coordinator for the utility.

“We’re excited to have Emmalee join our strong team at town hall. Her experience and expertise will help ensure a successful launch of our new stormwater utility, meet our MS-4 permit requirements and ultimately help improve water quality in our lake,” said Town Manager Carrie Johnson in a prepared statement.

The town passed a stormwater utility ordinance in September 2020. Stormwater ordinances allow for regulation of stormwater runoff from private properties, and create a fee mechanism for funding public works projects designed to slow and absorb stormwater runoff, such as improved culverts or catch basins.

According to both federal and state clean water obligations, St. Albans Town and St. Albans City are required to regulate stormwater runoff leading into Rugg and Stevens brooks, two streams that are heavily affected by high water flows that can carry phosphorus and sediment from the bankings into Lake Champlain.

Cherington will start her new position with the town at the end of April. She previously worked as stormwater project manager for South Burlington, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering from the University of Vermont.

“I am honored and excited to join the town of St. Albans to work toward the common goal of water quality improvement,” Cherington said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to bringing my years of experience with stormwater system development and construction management to face the challenges the years to come.”

In an interview with the Messenger on Monday, Johnson said Cherington’s first task will be to work with the town’s public works department to outline and prioritize projects, as well as build out and organize the utility so that the town can send out bills this summer.

“This year is largely a building year,” she said.

Part of that will involve finalizing the fee structure, which at the moment could be $40 to $50 for private residences and higher for commercial properties. While the fee structure hasn’t been set, Johnson said she anticipates it will be “fairly conservative.”

Johnson said commercial properties that are compliant with the stormwater ordinance regulations will be eligible for a credit on their bill. Outreach and education regarding stormwater regulations and the fee structure will be among Cherington’s tasks, Johnson said.

“The Town of St. Albans takes improving water quality and addressing our stormwater issues seriously. We’re happy to have someone of Emmalee’s caliber join our team to help us implement this important work,” said Selectboard Chair Brendan Deso in a statement.

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