Stormwater Management Program
Macungie Borough is required to address the impacts of stormwater runoff as part of the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Phase II of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.
This program focuses on controlling the quantity of stormwater reaching water resources in larger metropolitan areas and on improving the quality of the nation's streams, rivers and lakes by managing stormwater runoff from smaller municipalities, urban areas adjacent to municipalities and construction sites over 1 acre.
This program is intended to reduce the amount of runoff generated from new development and the levels of pollutants carried by stormwater runoff. These regulations require Macungie Borough to develop and implement a comprehensive stormwater management program.
Most water quality problems can be attributed to pollution carried by stormwater runoff. In undisturbed landscapes, rainwater runoff is part of the natural hydrologic cycle. Vegetation, soils, and a wide range of organisms filter, absorb, and use rainfall in their living processes. Evaporation and transpiration takes place.
Excess precipitation infiltrates into groundwater and flows into surface waters, recharging aquifers and supporting aquatic life. The entire system is affected when the landscape is changed: impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, rooftops, etc.) prevent runoff from percolating into the ground and cause it to pick up debris, sediments, chemicals, and other pollutants as it moves over the ground.
Check out these websites that provide great information for residents to help control the quantity and improve the quality of the stormwater from their property:
Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center
Read the Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater if you are interested in developing and implementing a stormwater management plan for your property.
Storm Drains vs, Sanitary Sewers
It's important to understand the difference. Storm drains and sanitary sewers have two distinct functions.
Storm drains collect and transport runoff from rainfall. Typically these are the drains found in streets and in parking lots. Storm drain systems do no remove pollutants from water before it is discharged into streams and rivers.
Sanitary sewers collect wastewater from indoor plumbing such as toilets, sinks, washing machines and floor drains and take it to a sewage treatment plant. The treatment plant removes any pollutants from wastewater before it is discharged to the river.
The Borough invites you to participate in its stormwater program by being a good steward. Follow label directions when using fertilizers and pesticides around your home. Store chemicals in a dry, safe environment and dispose of old containers properly. Keep grass clippings and leaves away from streams and ditches. Property owners that are not connected to the Borough sewer and have a septic tank, should have it inspected annually and have it pumped every 3 to 5 years to ensure the system is functioning properly. Revegetate or cover any bare areas on your lawn to reduce soil erosion.
Our streams and rivers are valuable, but limited, resources. We rely on these waters for drinking water, electricity and recreational opportunities. Their quality is important to everyone. Please do your part in protecting our streams and rivers by adopting the common sense strategies outlined above.
To help raise public awareness of what happens to stormwater runoff, click to an article entitled
WHEN IT RAINS, IT DRAINS
Vehicle Maintenance Affects Stormwater Runoff
Those stains on your driveway and street from leaking antifreeze or oil pans can become a problem for the creeks located within the Borough. Runoff from a storm can wash over those pools of liquid and carry it into nearby inlets along roads. Once in the inlets, the fluids are carried by our stormwater system to pipes that empty into the Swabia Creek and Mountain Creek. Eventually, these streams reach the Little Lehigh Creek, which affects the entire watershed.
Once in the streams and rivers, these pollutants damage the vegetation and other organisms that fish and wildlife eat. These pollutants can accumulate in the tissue of all types of wildlife, impairing the animals we hunt and fish.
Drip pans, carpet scraps and mats can help trap these leaking fluids instead of reaching your driveway or the street. Performing routine maintenance on your vehicle can help identify these problems. If you change your own oil, collect the oil property and take it to a collection point that will recycle the oil. Never dump used oil, gasoline or other vehicle fluids down the storm inlet or on the ground. Eventually, it will reach the streams and rivers that others use for recreation.
If possible, wash your car on your lawn so that the soapy water does not run down your driveway and into the storm sewer inlets. Even biodegradable soaps can raise the pollutant levels in streams and rivers, especially nutrient levels.
These tips for your vehicle will help everyone enjoy a higher degree of quality on our streams and rivers.
Lawn and Garden Effects
Stormwater is the water that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways and parking lots. It can also come from hard grassy surfaces like lawns, play fields and from graveled roads and parking lots.
We are all part of watersheds, which are geographically-defined areas where runoff drains to a common point. These watersheds cross municipal boundaries and even individual neighborhoods. Macungie Borough is located within the Little Lehigh Creek Watershed.
Every lawn, garden and street is within a watershed. The types of lawn and garden chemicals we use can have drastic effects on the streams and rivers within these watersheds. If too much pesticide and fertilizers are applied to lawns and trees, the excess may be washed off during the first rainfall event. When these pollutants reach our streams, they cause the eco-system to deteriorate.
As part of the Borough's ongoing public education series, below are some tips to follow during lawn and garden season:
Check out the "10 Commandments for a Healthy Yard."
If you need to use pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, following the label directions and apply the correct dosage. Most products should not be used when rain is predicted.
Follow these simple steps to prevent stormwater pollution:
Pet Waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters.
When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into eventually into local water bodies. See poster
Proper Handling Of Paints
Improper disposal of painting wastes is harmful to the environment, hazardous to public health and violates state law. Waste materials from painting include excess paint, used thinner, cleanup water and wastes from prep work such as chips and scraping. Even water-soluble latex paints contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life and drinking water supplies.
Paint, solvents, thinners and water from prep work may contaminate soil and groundwater, if disposed of on the ground or in a septic tank.
The following paint disposal and cleanup guidelines can help you protect the environment and keep you in compliance with the law.
Latex Paint wastewater from cleanup on brushes, rollers and tools used may be discharged to the sanitary sewer. Never pour excess paint into the storm drain or sanitary sewer. Excess paint in buckets must be removed and properly handled as leftover paint prior to washing paint buckets
Avoid using solvents for cleanup. Use disposable brushes, rollers, trays and containers, if practical. Let them dry and then throw them in the trash. If practical, reuse thinner. Let particles settle out and pour off clear thinner for reuse. Dispose of the unusable portion as hazardous waste.
Helpful hints when handling paints and solvents:
Avoid buying too much paint to begin with. Careful planning can save you money and minimize the need to deal with leftover materials.
Stormwater Education for Residents
Penn State Extension