What is Stormwater?
In undeveloped landscapes, rainwater runoff is part of the natural hydrologic cycle. Vegetation, soils, and a wide range of organisms filter, absorb, and use rainfall in their living processes. Evaporation and transpiration takes place, and this completes the cycle. Excess precipitation infiltrates into groundwater and flows into surface waters, recharging aquifers, and supporting aquatic life. The entire system is affected when the landscape is changed: impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, rooftops, etc.) prevent stormwater from percolating into the ground and cause it to pick up debris, sediments, chemicals, and other pollutants as it moves over the ground.
Why is Stormwater Management Important?
Stormwater management is essential to prevent erosion of agricultural, developed, and developing areas. Failed stormwater practices, or a lack thereof, can cause severe damages and flooding. Any new development will have some impact on the surrounding environment; the construction of buildings and infrastructure will significantly alter the hydraulic properties of an area. Pervious surfaces, or surfaces that allow stormwater to percolate and infiltrate the ground below, often become less permeable or impermeable and prevent percolation once development takes place.
After the Storm - Environmental Protection Agency 2006 - EPA 841-C-06-001 - After the Storm: Co-Produced by the U.S. EPA and The Weather Channel. The show highlights three case studies—Santa Monica Bay, the Mississippi River Basin/Gulf of Mexico, and New York City—where polluted runoff threatens watersheds highly valued for recreation, commercial fisheries and navigation, and drinking water. Key scientists and water quality experts, and citizens involved in local and national watershed protection efforts provide insight into the problems as well as solutions to today's water quality challenges. After the Storm also explains simple things people can do to protect their local watershed-such as picking up after one's dog, recycling household hazardous wastes, and conserving water. The program is intended for educational and communication purposes in classrooms, conferences, etc.
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)
An MS4 (Penn State Extension) is a system of conveyances owned by a public entity and discharges stormwater runoff to waters of the Commonwealth. The system is designed to collect or convey stormwater. Please note that the storm sewer system is not a combined sewer system. The Township’s stormwater conveyance system, unlike the sewer system, conveys surface water runoff from rain, irrigation, and outdoor water use directly to our waterways without treatment. The stormwater conveyance system includes streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, catch basins, and storm drain inlets. In Lower Macungie Township, the stormwater conveyance system ultimately discharges to the Lehigh River, which then flows westward to its end point at the Delaware River. In our Township, the MS4 is monitored for erosion, flooding, and spills to ensure the best quality runoff into our waterways.
The stormwater requirements of the federal Clean Water Act are administered under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s MS4 Program. In December 2002, DEP issued a General Permit (“PAG-13”) for use by MS4s that fall under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II program, requiring the implementation of a stormwater management program for minimizing the impacts from runoff. Lower Macungie Township holds an Individual Permit; individual NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits must be submitted by a small MS4 when the MS4 does not meet one or more of the eligibility criteria of the PAG-13 General Permit. The Individual Permit carries the same general parameters as the General Permit, but with different timeline requirements.
Under the MS4 Program, permittees are required to incorporate the following six elements (known as minimum control measures, or MCMs) into their stormwater management programs:
- MCM #1: Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts
- MCM #2: Public Involvement and Participation
- MCM #3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- MCM #4: Construction Site Runoff Control
- MCM #5: Post-Construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
- MCM #6: Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations and Maintenance
Minimum Control Measures
MCM #1: Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts
MCM #1 requires the permittee to develop, implement and maintain a written Public Education and Outreach Program. The purpose of the program is to educate residents, property owners, businesses, developers, and municipal staff through public meetings, municipality-hosted events, newsletters, pamphlets, posters, presentations, storm drain stencilings, employee trainings, and the Township webpage dedicated to stormwater management. The goal of the program is to increase the awareness of stormwater impacts and management and to prevent or reduce stormwater pollution.
MCM #2: Public Involvement and Participation
MCM #2 requires the permittee to develop, implement and maintain a written Public Involvement and Participation Program. The primary purpose of this program is to regularly solicit public involvement from the target audience groups using available ditribution and outreach methods. The solicitation of public involvement also includes advertising ordinances, standards operating procedures (SOPs), and Pollutant Reduction Plans (PRPs) for public comment.
MCM #3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
MCM #3 requires the permittee to develop and implement a written program for the detection, elimination, and prevention of illicit discharges into the storm sewer system. As a key component of this program, the Township is required to maintain a map that details the location of storm sewer infrastructure as well as outfalls (i.e., the point of discharge from the storm sewer system to surface waters). Some other items that are mapped include: roads, inlets, piping, swales, catch basins, channels, and dry or wet ponds. Over the course of a permit cycle, the Township must conduct dry weather screenings of all MS4 outfalls in order to evaluate the presence of illicit discharges. The program prohibits non-stormwater discharges from entering the storm sewer system.
MCM #4: Construction Site Runoff Control
MCM #4 prevents the municipality from issuing a building permit, or any other permit or final approval, to those proposing or conducting earth disturbance activities requiring an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit unless the party proposing the earth disturbance has valid NPDES permit coverage. The Township must enact, implement, and enforce an ordinance or SOP to require the implementation and maintenance of E&S (erosion and sediment) control BMPs (best management practices), including sanctions for non-compliance. E&S control plans must be reviewed in order to ensure that the plans adequately consider water quality impacts and meet regulatory requirements. Inspections must be conducted in order to ensure the proper installation and maintenance of E&S control measures. If E&S control measures are not compliant with regulatory requirements, the Township and/or Conservation District is required to impose enforcement actions. The Township is required to develop and implement requirements construction site operators in order to control waste that may cause adverse impacts to water quality.
MCM #5: Post-Construction Stormwater Management in New Construction and Redevelopment
MCM #5 requires the municipality to enact, implement and enforce an ordinance or SOP to require post-construction stormwater management from new development and redevelopment projects, including sanctions for non-compliance. It is the Township's responsibility to ensure the adequate operations and maintenance of all post-construction stormwater management BMPs. A PCSM BMP inventory shall be maintained by the municipality. BMPs are structural, vegetative or managerial practices used to treat, prevent or reduce water pollution (e.g., swales, catch basins, channels, detention/retention basins).
MCM #6: Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations and Maintenance
MCM #6 requires the permittee to develop, implement and maintain a written O&M plan for all operations that could contribute to the discharge of pollutants from the MS4. The Township must identify and document all operations that are owned or operated by the permittee and have the potential for generating pollution in stormwater runoff to the MS4. In order to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants from municipal operations, the Township must maintain an employee training program that addresses appropriate topics to further the goal of preventing or reducing the discharge of pollutants.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDD&E)
As per DEP regulations, Lower Macungie Township is required to implement and administer a program for the detection, elimination, and prevention of illicit discharges into our regulated MS4. Examples of illicit substances include: automobile oil, chlorinated pool water, grease from restaurant grease traps, household chemical products, laundry wash water, paint, septic system drainage, yard waste (including grass clippings), and sanitary waste, among other things. Illicit discharges enter the system through either direct connections (e.g., wastewater piping either mistakenly or deliberately connected to the storm drains) or indirect connections (e.g., infiltration into the MS4 from cracked sanitary systems, spills collected by drain outlets, or paint or used oil dumped directly into a drain). The result is untreated discharges that contribute high levels of pollutants, including heavy metals, toxics, oil and grease, solvents, nutrients, viruses, and bacteria to receiving waterbodies. Pollutant levels from these illicit discharges have been shown in EPA studies to be high enough to significantly degrade receiving water quality and threaten aquatic, wildlife, and human health.
If you witness a potential illicit discharge into waters of the Commonwealth or the municipal storm sewer system, please report the incident immediately. Hotlines are listed below. As time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to trace the source of an event.
If you witness a potential illicit discharge into waters of the Commonwealth, or any other event that could adversely affect water quality, please contact the Lehigh County Office of Emergency Services immediatly. Once the incident has been reported to Lehigh County, we ask that you also contact DEP's Bethlehem District Office and/or Lower Macungie Township.
Lehigh County Office of Emergency Services: (610) 437-5252
DEP Bethlehem District Office: (610) 861-2070
Lower Macungie Township: (610) 966-4343
Erosion and Sediment (E&S) Control Hotline
If the stormwater is “cloudy” or “dirty” and originates from an area of active earth disturbance, you will receive the quickest response by calling the Lehigh County Conservation District. The Conservation District is responsible for investigating erosion and sediment control concerns relating to active construction sites on behalf of the Township. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and the specific location of the origin of the sediment laden runoff.
Lehigh County Conservation Distrct: (610) 391-9583
PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER ADDITIONS AND UPDATES!
- Chapter 23A: Little Lehigh Basin Stormwater Management Ordinance
- Chapter 23B: Perkiomen Creek Headwaters Act 167 Stormwater Management Ordinance
- Chapter 23C: Lower Macungie Township Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems
- Lehigh County Conservation District
- Low Impact Development
- Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
- Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers
- Pollutant Reduction Plan
- Stormwater PA MS4 Program
- Stormwater Pollution Prevention Guide
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- What Can You Do?