What You Need to Know About Stormwater
As a result of the EPA establishing a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (“MS4”) Mandate and the heavy rainfalls in 2018 and 2019 that caused extensive flooding and damage in the Borough to residential properties, businesses and municipal infrastructure, various projects and mitigation measures are being designed or are being developed to help ease flooding and stormwater runoff in the future.
The EPA established the MS4 Stormwater Management Program to improve the waterways by reducing the number of pollutants and sediment that stormwater carries into a system during rain. The Borough is an MS4 community, as adopted by Ordinance, and is required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit to discharge stormwater runoff into waterways. The permit also requires the development, implementation and enforcement of a Comprehensive Stormwater Management Program approved by the PA DEP. The program includes reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff, educating the public about stormwater, and protecting water quality.
Due to southwestern Pennsylvania’s hilly terrain, clay soils and land development, the natural absorption of water runoff is compromised. Recent storm events produced a greater amount of rainfall in a short period of time causing faster water runoff, which pooled to the bottom of valleys and resulted in flash flooding. Also, clay soils absorb very little rain water and land development creates more impervious surfaces, which may cause the storm sewer system to have untreated, polluted water, contaminated with oil and grease from roads, lawn or farm fertilizers, pesticides, sediment from land development sites, carelessly discarded trash, such as cigarette butts, paper wrappers, plastic bottles, soda cans and other pollutants that enter the rivers, lakes and creeks we use for swimming, fishing and drinking water.
Currently, the Borough is funding stormwater projects from tax revenue. However due to the severe storms, and increased regulatory requirements, stormwater improvements have become more costly. While the borough has obtained grants for several projects, in the future the Borough will continue to consider various options for funding stormwater projects. a stormwater funding program was determined to be the fair and equitable mechanism for the Township to maintain its stormwater services and plan and construct new stormwater facilities.
What is MS4?
MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. The MS4 entity owns and operates a system for the collection and conveyance of stormwater. The MS4 program charge is to maintain and benefit the water quality in creeks, streams and waterways by reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff.
As stormwater flows it collects and transports pollutants to surface water. Although the amounts of pollutants from a single residential, commercial, industrial or construction site may seem unimportant, the combined concentrations of pollutants can threaten our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and other water bodies. Pollution conveyed by stormwater reduces the quality of drinking water and can damage the habitats of plants and animals that depend on clean water for survival. Pollutants carried by stormwater can also affect recreational uses of water ways by making them unsafe for wading, swimming, boating and fishing.
The Borough is required to have an MS4 permit issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP).
The MS4 program has six elements termed “Minimum Control Measures” (MCM’s) that when implemented should result in significant reductions in pollutants discharged into receiving waters. The six minimum control measures and the actions required include the following:
- Public Education and Outreach – Distribute educational materials and conduct outreach to inform citizens about the impacts that stormwater runoff has on water quality.
- Public Participation/Involvement – Provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the stormwater management program or other programs which improve water quality.
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination – Develop and implement a plan to detect and eliminate non stormwater discharges into the stormwater system.
- Construction Site Runoff Control – Develop, implement and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction site activities of that disturb one acre or greater.
- Post-Construction Runoff Control – Develop, implement and enforce a program to address discharges of post-construction stormwater runoff from new development or redevelopment areas.
- Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping -Develop and implement a program that reduces or prevents pollutant runoff from municipal operations.
All municipalities should be committed to improving water quality through better management of stormwater runoff. Every resident and business owner can participate in their municipal stormwater program by reducing or preventing pollutant runoff from their own property and by reporting any non storm water discharges into the municipality’s drainage system.
Each small step we take helps in the fight for clean water.
Other Stormwater Resources