When it rains or snows, the water soaks into the ground, evaporates back into the atmosphere or runs off. This runoff, also known as stormwater, has some obvious impacts such as flooding and erosion. Some less obvious, but equally important, impacts of stormwater runoff include increased pollution, reduced ground water supplies, and lower stream flows during dry spells.
Traditionally, stormwater has been seen as a nuisance to be collected and dumped into the nearest ditch or stream and disposed of. Unfortunately, such an approach neglects the reality that most of us live or work downstream of someone else. As a result, our neighbor’s nuisance becomes our problem, which in turn becomes a problem for our downstream neighbors.
It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our streams and rivers. Upper Chichester Township manages storm water by balancing flood/erosion control with water quality. The Township is responsible for maintaining storm inlets, pipes, and detention basins that are located on Township property or in Township rights of way. Each property owner is responsible for managing storm water on his/her property.
What is Stormwater Management?
Management of stormwater is necessary to compensate for the possible impacts of development such as flooding, erosion and sedimentation problems, concentration on flow on adjacent properties, damages to roads, bridges and other infrastructure as well as non-point source pollution washed off from impervious surfaces.
The Township is required to obtain a permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) in order to operate a storm sewer system. The permit, called a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, requires the Township to take certain steps to ensure that stormwater in the Township is properly managed and controlled. It also requires that the Township educate the public about storm water impacts, as well as provide opportunities for public involvement and participation.
What is Illicit Discharge?
Federal regulations define an illicit discharge as any discharge to the storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater. There are exceptions to this rule: firefighting activities, landscape irrigation, foundation drains, waster from crawl space pumps etc. Sources of illicit discharges include: sanitary wastewater, failing septic systems, car wash waste water, swimming pool water, improper disposal of household toxins or improper use of pesticides and herbicides etc. Illicit discharges enter the system wither through direct connections (deliberate pipe hookups to the storm drain system) or indirect connections (spills collected by drain outlets, or deliberate dumping down the storm drain.) These illicit discharges drain directly to the creeks and streams and may be loaded with a large amount of harmful and toxic substances. These pollutants enter the aquatic system and degrade the water quality and threaten wildlife and human health.
It is a violation of these new laws and the township’s “MS4″ stormwater permit to discharge polluted water into storm drains or onto paved areas which flow to storm drains. Potential pollutants include detergents, chlorine, grease, oil, gasoline, chemicals, or sediment.
If you happen to see something exiting a storm pipe that looks, smells or feels like something other than stormwater, please contact the Township so we can track it to its source and keep our streams as clean and pure as possible. To report an illicit discharge, call the Public Works Department or file a concern.