Link to 2014-2015 MS 4 annual report:
Link to Stormwater Ordinance:
Link to Stormwater Public Education and Outreach Program (PEOP), Public Involvement Participation Program (PIPP) and Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Program (IDD&E):
Rain refreshes the land and nourishes the green landscape. But as houses, stores, schools, roads and parking lots spread and natural tree cover is lost, so is the absorbing effect of vegetation and soil. The welcome rain becomes costly stormwater runoff. Without the benefit of trees and vegetated infrastructure, waterways are polluted as oils, heavy metal particles and other harmful substances are washed away. Fish and wildlife suffer, drinking water becomes expensive or impossible to reclaim, property values are reduced, and our living environment is degraded.
Stormwater Related Problems
When rain falls to the land surface in quantities that exceed the land surface’s ability to absorb, or infiltrate, stormwater runoff is produced. The amount of runoff is dependent on the intensity of rainfall, the length of the rainfall event and the characteristics of the surface upon which the rain falls. These characteristics include the slope of the land, the land cover and soil types. The amount of runoff can range from none to tremendous amounts. For example, a short, light rain falling on very permeable soils may produce no runoff while a heavier rain falling on a parking lot will produce larger amounts of runoff.
As the land was settled, forests were cleared for farmland and settlements. Farmland and settlements gave way to towns. Towns expanded and today, development continues to expand into previously undeveloped areas. This continued development has diminished the ability of watersheds to retain rainwater. The excess rainwater becomes stormwater runoff.
Early efforts to manage stormwater were to collect stormwater and remove it as quickly as possible from an area through a system of inlets and pipes which dumped the runoff into the nearest stream. As discussed above, the increased volumes of runoff being delivered to streams more often caused degradation of the stream.
Since then we have learned a lot about stormwater runoff. Today, sound stormwater management efforts attempt to minimize the above problems by addressing not only the quantity of stormwater produced, but also the quality of the stormwater and the amount of water that is lost from the watershed. The underlying philosophy of current programs is to manage stormwater as the resource that stormwater really is, not as a nuisance problem to be eliminated as quickly as possible. Stormwater is, after all, rain water and rain water is the ultimate source of the water we use in our daily activities and the source of the water which supplies our streams.
Pennsylvania is the most flood prone state in the country. It has experienced several serious and sometimes devastating floods during the past century, often as a result of tropical storms and hurricanes, and heavy rainfall on an existing snow pack. To a large extent, the flooding that results from such extreme storms and hurricanes occurs naturally and will continue to occur. Stormwater management cannot eliminate flooding during such severe rainfall events.
The problems are not limited to flooding. Stormwater runoff carries significant quantities of pollutants washed from the impervious and altered land surfaces. The mix of potential pollutants ranges from sediment to varying quantities of nutrients, organic chemicals, petroleum hydrocarbons, and other constituents that cause water quality degradation.
When the stormwater runoff during a storm event is allowed to drain away rather than recharge the groundwater, it alters the hydrologic balance of the watershed. As a consequence, stream base flow is deprived of the constant groundwater discharge and may diminish or even cease. During a drought, reduced stream base flow may also significantly affect the water quality in a stream. Rainfall replenishes the groundwater, which in turn provides stream base flow.
The groundwater discharge to a stream is at a relatively constant temperature, whereas stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces may be very hot in the summer months and extremely cold in the winter months. These temperature extremes can have a devastating effect on aquatic organisms, from bacteria and fungi to larger species. Many fish, especially native trout, can be harmed by acute temperature changes of only a few degrees.
Improperly managed stormwater causes increased flooding, water quality degradation, stream channel erosion, reduced groundwater recharge, and loss of aquatic species. But these and other impacts can be effectively avoided or minimized through better site design. This chapter discusses the potential problems associated with stormwater and explains the need for better stormwater management. The problems caused by impervious and altered surfaces can be avoided or minimized, but only through stormwater management techniques that include runoff volume reduction, pollutant reduction, groundwater recharge and runoff rate control for all storms.
To read more of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stormwater manual click here: PA BMP Manual.
There are some low cost solutions that have proven to work manage stormwater:
Regardless of the scale, public projects represent complex systems. Projects that typify public landscapes include parks, plazas, playgrounds, streetscapes and rights of way, and an assortment of institutional and municipal uses. These built environments respond to myriad criteria—they must overcome tight budgets and schedules, satisfy agency standards and stormwater requirements, reduce short- and long-term resource consumption, minimize life-cycle costs, and maximize durability. They must also offer safety, comfort, beauty, and recreation to their inhabitants. The successful realization of these objectives is inextricably linked to the respective design team. Designs that exhibit environmentally responsive and socially responsible solutions rest at the intersection of discipline specialties—infrastructure, building(s), landscape, and art. This collaborative confluence is referred to as integrated design. By blending the technical and creative expertise of a project team, integrated design nurtures ideas that exceed narrow standard solution
Stormwater management is a primary concern within an integrated team structure. While always solving for proper system function, safety, durability, and maintainability, the primary considerations of integrated stormwater design also include aesthetics, resource conservation, design unification and clarity, and the potential for social programmatic use(s). These additional concerns broaden the reach of every integrated stormwater feature; they create opportunities to insert valuable ecological and humanistic function(s) into any project. The overall objective is to develop a complex, rich, and unified landscape that offers clients and stakeholders a range of diverse experiences exceeding those allowed through solely prescriptive and/or myopic approaches to stormwater management.
By Andrew Fox