In 2003, Hempfield Township became one of approximately 670 small urban communities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania required to have its municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) regulated under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP’s) National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II permit program for storm water discharges from storm sewer systems within small- to medium-sized communities within urbanized areas as defined by the 2000 U.S. Census.
Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater
This guide has been funded by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund through a Section 319 federal Clean Water Act grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater is based upon The Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater produced by the Little Conestoga Partnership and its funder the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Download The Homeonwer’s Guide to Stormwater.
What is an MS4?
MS4 is an acronym for a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. An MS4 is defined as a collection and conveyance system or a group of collection and conveyance systems owned, operated and maintained by a state, city, township, borough or other public entity that is dedicated solely for the handling of stormwater runoff and discharging it into tributaries, streams, rivers, lakes or other natural or man-made receiving waters within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The MS4 system may include such structures as storm pipes, catch basins, trench drains, roadside swales and cross drains, conveyance channels, detention ponds, infiltration basins, rain gardens or other structures designated for the collection, storage and conveyance of stormwater runoff.
What is Stormwater Runoff?
Stormwater runoff is water from rainfall, snowmelt, and/or ice melt that flows over ground or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots and rooftops) and does not percolate into the ground. Stormwater runoff may flow directly into natural tributaries, streams, rivers, lakes or other waterways within the Township or it is intercepted and collected by the Township’s municipal separate storm sewer system where it is then discharged at discrete locations (outfalls) into streams, rivers, lakes and other natural waterways.
What is Non-Stormwater Discharge?
Non-stormwater discharge is discharge into the City’s MS4 system or natural waterways that is not due directly to a rainfall or snowmelt runoff event. Non-stormwater discharge includes groundwater exfiltration, mine pool discharge, discharges from potable water sources such as fire hydrants or waterline blow-off valves, sanitary sewer discharges either from publically-owned treatment works collection systems or on-lot septic systems. Many non-stormwater discharges are prohibited under the Township’s illicit discharge and connection ordinance.
Why can stormwater runoff be a problem in the Township?
As stormwater runoff flows over lawns, roadways, parking lots, or land disturbed by construction activities, it accumulates chemicals, oils and grease, debris and litter, sediment, heat or other pollutants that contaminate and adversely affect the water quality of our natural waterways. Also, as more impervious cover is constructed or as natural vegetation is cleared and the underlying soil is compacted, more stormwater runoff is generated. Stormwater runoff pollution can lead to deterioration of the quality of our natural waterways which are used for fishing, swimming, boating, as well as sources of our potable water supply. Increases in stormwater volume can lead to accelerated stream bank erosion and more frequent stream channel flooding which can result in damage to and loss of property as well as premature failure of roadway culverts and bridges.
What is Hempfield Township doing about stormwater runoff?
As part of its MS4 permit program, the Township has implemented several actions or measures to ensure the proper handling and discharge of stormwater through its MS4 system. Such measures include:
- Provide and distribute educational materials concerning stormwater runoff through various outlets to residents, businesses, contractors and developers within the Township. Several links to additional information are also provided below [hyperlink to Related Links below].
- Through its Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination program, the Township has developed a Township-wide MS4 outfall map showing all natural waterways and roadways within the Township as well as all outfall locations of its MS4 system into the natural receiving waters. This map will serve as a tool for the Township to identify outfalls that are discharging pollutants as determined by visually screening each outfall during dry-weather periods. Any indications of non-stormwater discharge will prompt the Township to find and identify the source of these pollutants and take actions to eliminate the source(s).
- The Township has adopted an ordinance to prohibit illicit discharges and connections of non-stormwater into its MS4 system and enable the Township the authority to fine individuals caught illegally dumping pollutants into its MS4 system.
- The Township has adopted an ordinance for the regulation of stormwater management of land disturbance activities and the handling of post-construction stormwater runoff. The Township also provides educational material to developers and contractors who come to the Township office for building permit applications. The Township also utilizes the technical support services of the Westmoreland Conservation District to review land disturbance plans to ensure that these plans are sufficient in addressing construction site stormwater and post-construction stormwater and to conduct site inspections to ensure that the sites are being constructed in accordance with the approved plans.
- The Township is continuously maintaining and tracking its MS4 system through cleaning, repairing and improving the system to ensure that it is functioning correctly. The Township is also monitoring all other municipal operations such as fleet vehicle maintenance, municipal property maintenance, as well as salt and anti-skid material stockpiling to minimize any detrimental impacts that these operations may have on the MS4 system.
What can residents of Hempfield Township do to improve stormwater quality in the Township?
It takes everyone to provide continual improvement to the waterways within Hempfield Township. We would hope that every person realizes that what is dumped into the Township’s MS4 system, ultimately ends up in the streams, rivers and lakes that we all care about. Here are several things each of us can do to help keep our waterways clean.
- Do not dump any chemicals, oils or other automotive fluids, grease, pet waste, grass clippings or other yard debris, fertilizers, etc. into storm inlets, catch basins, roadside ditches or directly into stream channels. This can lead to endangerment of the health of fish and other aquatic life, decrease in recreational opportunities and impairment of drinking water.
- Have your car or truck serviced regularly and eliminate any leaks in your vehicle.
- Do not litter or illegally dump. Always dispose of any trash in its proper location and recycle whenever possible. Car batteries can be turned it at most automotive parts stores. Used motor oil and worn tires can be turned into most service shops.
- Follow the instructions when applying fertilizers and pesticides to your lawn or garden and never apply these products immediately before a rain storm.
- Notify the Township’s Code Enforcement Office at 724-834-7232 if you see any pollutants or non-stormwater discharge in the Township’s MS4 system or natural waterways.
Related Links and more information for the Township’s Stormwater Program:
- Westmoreland Conservation District launches a online Homeowner Toolkit for Stormwater Management.
- To learn more about stormwater, go to www.stormwaterpa.org or visit the Pennsylvania DEP’s Stormwater Management Program Web Site
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s MS4 Web Site
- A Homeowner’s Guide to Protecting Our Watershed has been developed by the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program for residents of the southwestern Pennsylvania communities.
- A slide presentation of the Township’s MS4 system
- A stormwater educational flyer prepared by PADEP
- Information on handling discharge from swimming pools
- Contact the Township Manager at the Township Supervisors’ office at (724) 834-7232 for more information or if you have any questions.