We didn't always understand the impact of our actions on water quality, aquatic life, or the natural landscape. We couldn't even measure some pollutants in the levels that we are finding them now because the instruments to do so didn't exist. But the news is finally getting better. Over the past three decades, state and federal laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, watershed management guidelines, and hazardous waste disposal regulations, have been signed into law and implemented. Scientists now realize that stormwater runoff is the most common cause of water pollution in the United States.
Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by a limited number of sources, stormwater pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. Concentrated development in urbanized areas substantially increases impervious surfaces, such as streets, driveways and parking lots. These surfaces are the primary collector of pollutants until a rain washes them into nearby storm drains. Many people do not realize that storm drains do not run to treatment plants, they empty directly into our waterways! For this reason, we have been placing "No Dumping" markers on the stormwater inlets throughout the Township. Eventually all of the stormwater runoff from Abington Township ends up in the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.
Common pollutants that can be picked up by stormwater include pesticides, fertilizers, oils, salt, litter, and sediment. When left uncontrolled, contaminated stormwater discharges can result in fish kills, destruction of wildlife habitats, and the contamination of drinking water and recreational waterways. Sediment from yard debris and construction sites can cause stream bank erosion, vegetation destruction, and flooding.
The Township's stormwater drainage system is very important for keeping stormwater runoff from flooding roadways and damaging property. The storm drain inlets in the streets are interconnected by piping and eventually discharged to a larger pipe (storm sewer), ditch or to a stream. The storm drain inlets are spaced along roadways with most located at low points of the street in order to efficiently collect rainwater. Residents may help themselves by insuring that the storm drain inlets are free and clear of leaves and other debris prior to a rain storm. Streams and drainage ditches/swales are also conveyors of stormwater runoff. Dumping or raking leaves and other garden debris into these channels hurts the environment and seriously impacts drainage down stream.
This action is prohibited by Township Ordinance and the regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). If a storm drain inlet or other stormwater facility is clogged and not accepting runoff, the Public Works Department should be called at 267-536-1033.
NPDES MS4 Program
As part of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has developed stormwater management regulations to improve water quality. The Township was required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4), which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. This permit is part of a 5-year program which began in March 2003. Any municipality with a population of at least 5,000, including counties, must comply with the program
The MS4 program is designed to literally "manage" stormwater, both by protecting storm water quality and by preventing high volumes of runoff from causing flooding in developed areas. Abington Township must also track the progress towards the goals of their permit and report our progress to the PA DEP on an annual basis. The MS4 program is broken up into 6 control measures which include: Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts, Public Involvement and Participation, Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination, Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control, Post-Construction Storm Water Management in New Development and Redevelopment, and Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations.
Please browse this page for more information on our stormwater management program, and on things you can do to help minimize the pollution that enters our waterways.
Every Day Tips to Reduce Stormwater Runoff Pollution
- Never put anything in a storm drain inlet that you would not want to drink or swim in;
- Watch for unusual discharges from storm drainage swales and piping during dry weather conditions, and report any dry weather discharges to the Township's Public Works Department at 267-536-1033;
- Service your car regularly and fix leaks to prevent gasoline, oil, brake and transmission fluids, and anti-freeze from leaking onto the pavement and washing into our streams;
- Use absorbent materials like kitty litter or toweling to soak up any spills, then sweep up and dispose of these items properly. Never dilute spills with water;
- Wash your car at a carwash, or on grass or gravel instead of in the driveway or on the street;
- Use fertilizers and herbicides only when necessary, and follow the directions carefully. Use natural, organic fertilizer and avoid applying any fertilizer before heavy rainfalls;
- Set your mower's height at 3 inches. Taller grass establishes deeper roots and healthier lawns absorb more stormwater;
- Compost leaves and grass clippings, and use it to enhance your garden's soil next year. Carefully bag any garden waste that you do not compost to keep it out of the storm drains;
- Place dog waste in the toilet or a trash can. Do not leave it on the yard, in the street or dispose of it in a storm drain. Pet waste introduces disease-causing bacteria into our water supply;
- Keep all litter off the street and place it in receptacles so that it does not get washed or blown down storm drains;
- Recycle products made of paper, glass, plastic and aluminum;
- Choose water based paints and wash your brushes in the sink with water. Water from your plumbing goes to a pollution control plant before ultimately going back to the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers;
- Reuse and recycle paint thinner. Don't pour it down the sink or drain. Take it to a local household hazardous waste disposal center.
- Use Montgomery County's Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days to dispose of your household hazardous waste and used computers. See the website http://www.wsaemc.org/Recycling/Hazardous%20Waste.htm#Montco%20Sites for collection days and times.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP)
United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)
- U.S. EPA Office of Water
- U.S. EPA NPDES Page
- U.S. EPA Stormwater Page
- U.S. EPA Office of Water
- U.S. EPA Stormwater Outreach Materials
- U.S. EPA National Menu of Stormwater Best Management Practices
- U.S. EPA Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox
Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC)
Center for Watershed Protection (CWP)
The Waste System Authority of Eastern Montgomery County (WSAEMC)
Stormwater Educational Resources
- Abington Township Stormwater Management Ordinance (1.19 MB)
- After the Storm Brochure (2.77 MB)
- Car Wash Poster (4.85 MB)
- Fertilizer Poster (1.5 MB)
- Pet Waste Poster (1.68 MB)
- Solution to Pollution Brochure (698 KB)
- Storm Water Poster (983 KB)
- Urban Runoff Brochure (238 KB)<
- Construction Runoff Brochure (58 KB)
- Oil Slick Poster (3.33 MB)
- Slideshow – Only Rain Should Go Down the Storm Drain (28.9 MB)
- Slideshow – When It Rains, It Drains (2.65 MB)
- Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) (17 MB zip file)