Stormwater and MS4
Stormwater is the precipitation that falls on roofs, lawns and paved areas and is carried away by a system of stormwater pipes, culverts and ditches. Collectively, the draining water is called storm water runoff.
Uncontrolled stormwater runoff is the leading cause of impairment to our local waterways and the number one cause of water pollution throughout the United States. Stormwater runoff can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt (yes, excess dirt in our waterways is a pollutant), pet waste and other pollutants which then flow into a storm sewer system or directly into a stream completely untreated.
Everyone can help reduce stormwater pollution using a few of the tips available below:
- Remember: Only rain belongs in the drain! Don’t dump anything down storm drains. Be sure to clear away leaves and debris.
- Wash your car over your lawn or gravel. This allows the ground to neutralize the soap and grime from your car rather than sending it directly to our creeks and streams. Use biodegradable or non-toxic soap that is phosphate-free. You can also take your car to a commercial car wash where wastewater is either recycled or treated.
- Keep your car well-maintained. Fix any fluid leaks promptly and make sure to clean up any spills. If you perform your own automotive maintenance, automotive repair shops will accept 5 gallons of used motor oil per resident per day.
- Consider disconnecting your downspouts. You can plant a rain garden to absorb stormwater runoff. You can also use a rain barrel to help collect runoff from your roof and gutters to be used on your lawn and garden.
- Use lawn or garden chemicals sparingly. Choose organic alternatives when possible and check the weather forecast to avoid applying them before a storm.
- Mow your lawn less often. Try to keep your lawn at least 3″ in height to minimize weed growth, reduce the need for watering, and decrease the likelihood of pests. Leaving the clippings on the lawn can also help block weeds and retain moisture. Sweep your sidewalks and driveway rather than hosing them down.
- Plant native, low maintenance plants and grasses. They often have longer root systems, which reduce the amount of chemicals and water needed.
- Minimize runoff by not over-watering your lawn and garden. Keep sprinklers on a timer to avoid pooling water.
- Clean up pet waste. Bag up pet waste and dispose of it in the trash to prevent harmful bacteria from washing into local waterways.
- Be sure to minimize the amount of ice-melt used. Do not over-apply salt. Choose a more environmentally-friendly alternative when possible.
- Consider minimizing impervious surfaces around your home. Use bricks, gravel, cobbles, natural stone, or permeable pavers instead of asphalt or concrete when possible.
- Make sure storm drain outfalls are not running in dry weather. A storm sewer system is designed to carry stormwater. If it hasn’t rained in 72 hours, it should not be flowing. Call Honey Brook Township at (610) 273-3970 if it does.
- Do not drain your pool, spa, or fountain to a storm drain. Allow chlorine to dissipate for several days. Test the water to ensure the residual chlorine is zero before slowly draining to a landscaped area.
- Keep your septic system well-maintained to prevent leaks. A leaking septic system can leach harmful bacteria into storm sewer systems and local waterways. It is important to keep your system well-maintained to prevent costly repairs as well.
Stormwater Management Plans
Stormwater is an important water resource that provides groundwater recharge for water supplies and the baseflow of streams.
The Township is required by both Federal and State regulations to reduce the adverse impacts from stormwater runoff by ensuring that construction projects large and small are designed, constructed and maintained in a manner that minimizes impacts of new development, redevelopment, and other earth disturbance activities that may cause accelerated runoff and erosion. Whenever your project results in earth disturbance, an increase in impervious surface and / or a change in stormwater runoff, you may be required to prepare a Stormwater Management Plan.
The Township Engineer will determine what type of plan, if any, is required for your project. For smaller projects, submit your building or other permit and then the Engineer will inform you if the project requires a Stormwater Plan. Large projects will require a full plan while a small or agricultural project may require a simplified plan or none at all.
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)
Honey Brook Township is required to develop and implement a stormwater management program and obtain various permits approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants to meet runoff requirements established by the Federal Clean Water Act. MS4 is one of these programs and like other State or Federal mandates, the Township receives no funding to help with the added expense for planning and implementation of the program.
The MS4 program regulates discharges from the Township’s system of stormwater conveyances including storm drains, pipes, ditches, and outfalls that drain into our streams, ponds and lakes. The program incorporates the six minimum control measures listed below, designed to reduce contaminated stormwater runoff.
- Public Education and Outreach: Distribute educational materials and performing outreach to inform citizens about the impacts polluted storm water runoff discharges can have on water quality.
- Public Participation and Involvement: Provide opportunities for citizens to participate in program development and implementation, including effectively publicizing public hearings and/or encouraging citizen representatives on a storm water management panel.
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination: Develop and implement a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm sewer system. Illicit Discharges are defined by federal regulations as any discharge to the storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater. There are exceptions to this rule such as firefighting activities, landscape irrigation, foundation drains, water from crawl space pumps etc. Sources of illicit discharges include:
- Sanitary wastewater – call the Northwestern Chester County Municipal Authority (610) 273-2265.
- Failing septic systems – call the Chester County Health Department (610) 344-6688 or (610) 344-6526
- Car wash waste water – call Honey Brook Township (610) 273-3970 or PA DEP (484) 250-5900.
- Improper oil disposal – call Honey Brook Township (610) 273-3970 or PA DEP (484) 250-5900.
- Radiator flushing disposal call Honey Brook Township (610) 273-3970 or the PA DEP (484) 250-5900.
- Spills from roadway accidents call Honey Brook Township (610) 273-3970 or PA DEP (484) 250-5900.
- Erosion or discharge of sediment in stormwater during site construction call Honey Brook Township (610) 273-3970 or the Chester County Conservation District (610) 696-5126.
- Improper disposal of household toxics or improper use of pesticides and herbicides etc. call Honey Brook Township (610) 273-3970 or PA DEP (484) 250-5900
These illicit discharges drain directly to the 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.
- Construction Site Runoff Control: Develop, implement and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction activities that disturb one or more acres of land (controls could include silt fences and temporary storm water detention ponds).
- Post-Construction Runoff Control: Developing, implementing, and enforcing a program to address discharges of post-construction storm water runoff from new development and redevelopment areas.
- Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping: Developing and implementing a program with the goal of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff from municipal operations.
Public Education Resources
- Why Should I Care About Stormwater?
- Protecting Water Quality from Urban Runoff
- After the Storm – A Citizen’s Guide
- A Roadside Guide to Clean Water
This page was last updated July 31, 2020.