Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DEP Commends Regional Approach To Reduce Stormwater Pollution In Luzerne County

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell Tuesday commended more than 30 communities for working together to reduce pollution through the creation of the Regional Stormwater Management Program by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority at an event with state and local leaders in Luzerne County.
“I want to praise the initiative and leadership that these local governments have taken to improve the water in their local streams and rivers,” said Secretary McDonnell. “By working together, these municipalities are reducing pollution less expensively than they could if they were each making these efforts separately. They are treating stormwater as a resource, rather than a waste.”
The regional program, led by the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority, encompasses more than 30 municipalities and will allow local governments to submit a joint pollution control plan, as well as finance capital projects more easily.
The WVSA estimates that the region will save $57 million over five years with this program and $274 million over the next two decades, in present-value dollars.
Individual households will pay a nominal fee—anywhere between $3 and $4.50 monthly—to the WVSA to finance the regional effort.
The WVSA estimates that households will pay between 70 and 90 percent less than if their municipality pursued EPA compliance on its own.
“The WVSA is well-prepared to meet this challenge and we are eager to advance this project after months of planning,” said Jim Tomaine, Executive Director of the WVSA. “Over the next five years, we will reduce pollutants contaminating the Susquehanna River, which will improve water quality.”
“We all have a responsibility to clean up the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay because no single municipality could meet this obligation alone,” said Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “The regional stormwater project—designed to improve water quality and wildlife habitats throughout the watershed—represents the most comprehensive environmental project in northeast Pennsylvania in the last forty years.”
In Pennsylvania, certain municipalities are required to control and reduce stormwater pollution under a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. DEP’s MS4 program works with these municipalities to develop and implement stormwater management plans.
One of the most important goals of the MS4 program is to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution going into the Susquehanna River, which ultimately leads to the Chesapeake Bay.
Over the next five years, municipalities must reduce pollutants in the Susquehanna River including sediment by 10 percent, phosphorous by 5 percent, and nitrogen by 3 percent.
“This work will pay dividends for years, if not generations to come, for the people and communities of the Wyoming Valley and places farther downstream,” said Secretary McDonnell. “The Wolf Administration is committed to the state doing its part in the Chesapeake Bay restoration and partnerships like this help tremendously in that effort. I am certain that the rest of the state will be looking at your exemplary leadership.”
To learn more about the Wyoming Valley’s regional approach to MS4 Stormwater compliance, visit the Authority’s Stormwater webpage.
Other Innovative Approaches
In Lycoming County they have adopted their own local nutrient credit trading program to promote cost effective solutions to nutrient and sediment reduction.
York County has also taken a county-wide approach and created an Integrated Water Resources Plan to comply with not only MS4 Stormwater requirements, but to comply with all Chesapeake Bay and local TMDL impaired stream nutrient and sediment reductions.
The City of Lancaster established a Green Infrastructure Program to install stormwater pollution reduction measures throughout the City.  
A similar green infrastructure plan is being finalized by the Capital Region Water Authority for the City of Harrisburg.
The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters Program is now into its sixth year of implementing its green infrastructure program and the City of Pittsburgh is now proposing its own green infrastructure program along with the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Project to promote green infrastructure on a regional basis.
What do all these approaches have in common?  Low-tech, cost-effective best management practices that work to prevent pollution from stormwater and reduce nutrients and sediment getting into our rivers and streams.
For more information on stormwater requirements, visit DEP’s Municipal Stormwater webpage.

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