What is stormwater?
Stormwater is precipitation from the sky, either rain, hail or snow, that falls onto the land. Some of the water seeps into the aquifer by penetrating the ground. More often, storm water floods creeks and makes it's way to the lowest level, the Delaware River Basin.
Rain has been around since the beginning of time, why all of a sudden are we hearing about stormwater?
Since 1978, Pennsylvania has had laws in place to control stormwater, as required by the Federal Government. (For decades, the State has not intensely focused on issues, until the devastation caused by the flooding from Hurricane Floyd in September of 1999.) Property destruction, personal losses, and litigation forced the state and federal governments to step up efforts and work towards controlling the effects of development as they may contribute to downstream flooding conditions.
NPDES PHASE II
The acronym stands for National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems. This is a stormwater management program developed by the state offices of the Department Of Environmental Protection to address pollution and flooding. State laws require municipalities to obtain state permits, and to strictly regulate water quality and quantity from construction sites, new development, illegal dumping to storm sewer systems and to educate the public (residents and business owners) on the importance of pollution prevention.
What does NPDES PHASE II have to do with me or my neighborhood?
If you live in a neighborhood that has streets maintained by the municipality, and there are storm sewers in those streets and pipes that take the stormwater to a stream or other body of water, you are responsible to keep your basins clear of sediment and pollutants and to prevent illegal dumping into storm sewers. If you are aware of a neighbor who connects a hose from their washing machine or sewage system directly into a storm sewer or drainage basin, or stream, you should notify township officials immediately. If you are aware of any malfunctioning septic systems you should notify township officials immediately.
For an informative brochure entitled When It Rains, It Drains, pick up at the Township Building, or view online - click here.
I own a house on an acre. Why do I care about stormwater?
Stormwater effects everybody, we all live downhill from somewhere. Everything we do on our little piece of the earth will have some effect on somebody. If we don't control runoff from our own property, somewhere, somebody down hill from us will feel it. Remember your parents saying to you - "if everybody threw their trash out the car window the whole road would be covered with trash?" If we all neglect our responsibilities to maintain our own property and control our own runoff, there will continue to be devastating effects on those down hill from us. You can be the solution to stormwater pollution!
Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly
Repair all auto and motor equipment leaks
Clean up after your pet
Wash cars on your lawn, not on your driveway
Dispose of household hazardous waste such as batteries, used oil, paint and certain cleaning solvents at designated collection locations. For details regarding household hazardous waste collections contact 215-785-0500 or visit the Township website at www.bristoltownship.org.
This doesn't pertain to me. I don't discharge any stormwater from my property.
Do you live in a house with rain gutters? Do your rain gutters take your roof water and dump it onto your driveway or to a storm drain? Do you have a storm drain on or near your driveway or property? Do you drain your swimming pool every fall? Did you build a tennis court, expand your driveway, enlarge your roof or add a garage? Unless you have some sort of stormwater system on your property, you are discharging water from your property into a stream somewhere, making it somebody else's problem.
Why is my township now getting involved with stormwater? Why doesn't the State take care of this?
The state is a big place and there are a lot of watersheds in Pennsylvania. State agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection rely heavily on local governments to do the lion's share of regulating when it comes to keeping the streams clean, healthy and controlling flooding from unmanaged stormwater.
I run a business in Bristol Township. How can I help keep the streams clean?
If you operate a restaurant, keeping your dumpster from leaking fluids into the ground is a start. Sweeping your sidewalks rather than washing possible pollutants into the ground will help.
My neighborhood uses a professional lawn treatment company. Should we worry about pollution?
When you fertilize your lawn you're not just fertilizing the lawn. Rain washes the fertilizer along the curb, into the storm drains and into the creeks and eventually into the Rivers. This causes algae to grow which uses up oxygen the fish need to survive.
Don't fertilize before a rain storm and don't spray on sidewalks or driveways.
Use fertilizers sparingly.
Test your soil and consider organic/slow release products.
Leave grass clippings lay, they act as natural fertilizer for your lawn.
Compost and introduce compost into the soil in trouble spots.
Maintain a buffer strip of unmowed natural vegetation bordering all waterways to trap fertilizers.
What is the County doing to help?
The Stormwater Management Act, Act 167 of 1978, provides for the regulation of land and water use for flood control and stormwater management. This law, among other things, requires counties to prepare and adopt a watershed stormwater plan for each designated watershed. Bucks County has prepared a plan for the Neshaminy Creek and Delaware River Watersheds. The County is developing conservation plans for all the Counties Watersheds.
For Additional Information check out these websites:
www.dep.state.pa.us – DEP Home page
www.epa.gov/owow/nps/toolbox – EPA Nonpoint Source Toolbox
www.epa.gov/npdes – EPA NPDES site
www.bucksccd.org - Bucks County Conservation District
http://www.cwp.org – Center for Watershed protection – Stormwater Manager's Resource