What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is water runoff that is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, building rooftops, driveways and patios), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated into a waterway.
Why is Stormwater a problem?
Non-point Source Pollution – is water contamination stemming from many sources, accumulating to negatively impact stream quality. Non-point source pollutants can be discharged over a wide land area, from many different locations, and most find their way to a stream through stormwater. When it rains, stormwater washes substances off the land and carries them into local streams. Much of this polluted “runoff” enters storm drains, which lead directly to local waterways commonly used for swimming, fishing or drinking water supplies. Snowmelt and irrigation have the same effect, carrying pollutants from plowed fields, city streets or suburban backyards. Sediment, nutrients, organic and toxic substances originating from land-use activities can all become non-point source pollution, washing into one stream at many different locations. It is important to remember that what we do to the land, we do to the water.
Increased Runoff – Impervious (nonporous) surfaces like roads, parking lots, and rooftops prevent rain and snowmelt from infiltrating, or soaking, into the ground. Most of the rainfall and snowmelt remains above the surface, where it runs off rapidly in unnaturally large amounts. Storm sewer systems concentrate runoff into smooth, straight conduits. This runoff gathers speed and power as it travels underground. When this runoff leaves the storm drains and empties into a stream, its excessive volume and power blast out stream banks, damaging stream side vegetation and wiping out aquatic habitat. These increased storm flows carry sediment loads from construction sites and other denuded surfaces and eroded stream banks. They often carry higher water temperatures from streets, roof tops, and parking lots, which are harmful to the health and reproduction of aquatic life.
How can Summit Township residents help manage stormwater?
- Properly dispose of hazardous substances, such as used motor oil, cleaning supplies and paint – never pour them down any part of the storm sewer system, and report anyone who does.
- Use pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides properly and efficiently to prevent excess runoff of these items.
- Report to Summit Township any poorly managed construction sites that have soil or other pollutants , such as debris and chemicals, leaving the site via stormwater runoff
- Install innovative stormwater practices on residential properties, such as rain barrels or rain gardens, that capture stormwater and keep it on-site instead of letting it drain away into the storm sewer system.
- Report to Summit Township any discharge from stormwater outfalls during times of dry weather (72 hours after the latest rain event), a sign there could be a problem with the storm sewer system.
- Pick up after pets and dispose of their waste properly. No matter where pets make a mess, in a backyard or on open space, stormwater runoff carries pet waste from the land to the storm sewer system to a stream.
- Store materials that could pollute water indoors and use containers for outdoor storage that do not rust or leak to eliminate exposure of materials to stormwater.
- Report to Summit Township any chemical, gas or oil spills that happen within the township.
- Report to Summit Township any illegal dumping activity into streams or storm sewers.
Residents may be the first to recognize “illicit” discharges dumping into storm sewers, exiting storm sewer outfalls, or leaving construction sites. If you witness an “illicit” discharge please report it to Summit Township by one of the following methods:
- Call the Summit Township Office at (814) 868-9686.
- Citizen Complaint Illicit Discharge Reporting Form
You can also help manage stormwater by volunteering:
- Organize or participate in a stream, creek or coastal cleanup
- Organize or participate in a roadside litter cleanup
- Participate in a tree planting program
- Organize or participate in a community recycling event
- Stencil storm drains with “No Dumping, Drains to Waterways” warning
Federal & State Stormwater Legislation:
The EPA overseas the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Program, which regulates stormwater discharges from three potential sources : municipal seperate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities. Most states (including Pennsylvania) are authorized to implement the NPDES Stormwater program and administer their own stormwater permitting programs.
Authorized to do so by the EPA, the DEP requires Municipalities (cities, boroughs and townships) that meet certain standards to obtain NPDES permit coverage for discharges of stormwater from their MS4s. NPDES Permits issued by the DEP to municipalities for MS4 coverage, require the implementation of comprehensive local stormwater management programs by each permitted municipality.
What is a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)?
A municipal separate storm sewer is any conveyance or system of conveyances (including but not limited to streets, ditches and pipes) that is defined by one or more of the following:
- owned by a municipality or other public body (created under state law) having jurisdiction over disposal of sewage, industrial wastes, stormwater or other wastes
- designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater
- not a combined sewer (i.e., not intended for both sewage and stormwater)
- not part of a publicly owned treatment works (POTW)
How is Summit Township managing stormwater?
Since 2005 Summit Township has been managing our MS4 under a General NPDES permit issued by the DEP. Our most recent NPDES permit renewal was in 2012. NPDES permits require the implementation of a stormwater management program that contains six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs).Summit Township has accomplished this duty, and the following is a listing of the MCMs and the multiple ways in which we have fulfilled each of them:
Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts:
Summit Township has established a Public Education and Outreach Program (PEOP) and its goal is to educate local residents regarding various sources of groundwater pollution and how they contribute to these sources (i.e. pesticide use, animal waste, oil and other fluids from autos or other machinery, erosion, etc.). Our specific educational plan to accomplish this goal includes watershed tips throughout our annual calendar, posters on display at the municipal building and various community events, information in our quarterly newsletter and working with our local elementary school to educate students regarding our watershed during Earth Day. We have also created the slogan “If YOU put it on the ground, in YOUR water it will be found!” and we use it effectively to teach residents of all ages.
Public Involvement / Participation:
- A Public Meeting was held on February 18, 2014 at which the Summit Township Engineer reported on the MS4 program and distributed educational materials to the public.
- Summit Township orchestrated an Earth Day presentation about watersheds at Robison Grade School.
- Township Staff created and hosted an informational stormwater display booth at the annual Summit Township senior picnic.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination:
- Completed a map of all outfalls and receiving waters of the Summit Township MS4.
Summit Township MS4 Outfall Location Map
- Currently working on a comprehensive MS4 map that will show all roads, inlets, piping, swales, catch basins, channels, basins, municipal boundaries and watershed boundaries.
- Continually conduct outfall field inspections during dry weather periods to screen for illicit discharges.
- Adopted and implemented an MS4 management ordinance on August 6, 2012.
Summit Township Stormwater Management Ordinance
- Provide educational outreach to public employees, business owners, property owners, the general public and elected officials (i.e., target audiences) about the program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges.
Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control:
Summit Township relies on the Pennsylvania statewide program for stormwater associated with construction activities to accomplish this MCM.
Post-Construction Stormwater Management in New and Re-Development Activities:
Summit Township relies on the Pennsylvania statewide program for post-construction stormwater management in new and re-development activities to accomplish this MCM.
Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping:
- Identified all facilities and activities that are owned and operated by Summit Township that have the potential to generate stormwater runoff into the MS4.
- Developed, implemented and maintain a written operation and maintenance (O&M) program for all municipal operations and facilities that could contribute to the discharge of pollutants from our MS4.
- Instituted controls for reducing or eliminating the discharge of pollutants from streets, roads, highways, municipal parking lots, maintenance and storage yards, waste transfer stations, fleet or maintenance shops with indoor storage areas, and salt / sand (anti-skid) storage locations and snow disposal areas.
- Developed and implemented an employee training program that addresses appropriate topics to further the goal of preventing or reducing the discharge of pollutants from municipal operations to our MS4.
NPDES permit coverage is generally for a 5-year term with a requirement to submit a renewal application at least 180 days prior to expiration of coverage. In addition to the Minimum Control Measures, NPDES permits require the submission of periodic reports (annual or progress reports every other year).
Summit Township Annual Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Status Reports:
- 2018 (MS4) Annual/Progress Report
- 2016 (MS4) Annual/Progress Report
- MS4 Compliance Inspection Report
Completed by the Erie County Department of Health
Summit Township Stormwater Links:
- Erie County Stormwater Web Page
- MS4 Area Map
- MS4 Outfall Location Map
- Stormwater Management Ordinance
- Release Rate Map
- Small Project Stormwater Management Application
- Stormwater Review Fee Reimbursement Agreement
- Stormwater Operation and Maintenance Agreement
Construction & Commercial Industry Stormwater Links:
- Don’t Let Stormwater Run Off With Your Time and Money
- Make it Your Business to Reduce Water Pollution and Flooding
- Planning and Implementing Erosion and Sediment Control Practices
- Stormwater and the Construction Industry
- A Citizens Guide to Understanding Stormwater
- 10 Good Housekeeping Practices Your Business Should Employ
- Good Housekeeping Practices for… Auto Maintenance, Repair and Fueling Operations
- Good Housekeeping Practices for… Restaurants & Food Service Establishments
Homeowner & Residential Stormwater Links:
- Where Are You Washing Your Car?
- Are You Fertilizing Your Lawn?
- Is Your Car Leaking Oil?
- Do You Clean Up After Your Pet?
- A Citizens Guide to Understanding Stormwater
- The Solution to Stormwater Pollution
- Protecting Water Quality From Urban Runoff
- Water Efficient Landscaping
- Rain Garden Manual for Homeowners
- When it Rains it Drains Brochure
- Citizen Pollution Complaint Form