Dec 01, 2014

Settlement Improves Pennsylvania Storm Water Management

The settlement outlines improvements to Pennsylvania's municipal storm water permitting system

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, PennFuture settlement

PennFuture and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a Stipulation of Settlement outlining improvements to Pennsylvania's municipal storm water permitting system.

Storm water from rain and snow events causes water pollution in Pennsylvania's streams and rivers. As the precipitation runs down rooftops and over dirty streets and sidewalks, it collects pollutants such as oil, fertilizers, litter and pet waste, negatively impacting drinking water sources. In areas that drain to the municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) found in many Pennsylvania municipalities, that polluted runoff drains directly into our streams and rivers without being treated.

DEP will propose a revised version of Pennsylvania's general permit for small MS4s, known as PAG-13, which will be available for public comment next year. The revised PAG-13 would improve the environmental protection afforded by DEP's permitting program. It would allow for enhanced public review of municipalities' plans for reducing stormwater pollution, and it would strengthen DEP's processes for reviewing and evaluating permit applications. DEP will hold workshops for municipal offices next year to help creat effective storm water management plans and meet their obligations to reduce storm water pollution.

The settlement was filed with the Environmental Hearing Board as part of a resolution to an appeal filed by PennFuture in July 2013. In its appeal, PennFuture challenged DEP's approval of permit coverage for Upper Gwynedd Township's Small MS4 under PAG-13,Pennsylvania's general permit for Small MS4s. PennFuture sought improvements in both the township's permit application and DEP's MS4 permitting program. The environmental organization argued that the existing permitting program did not adequately ensure the quality of plans for reducing stormwater pollution, and it did not allow enough opportunity for the public to review or comment on stormwater management plans in their communities.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with offices in HarrisburgPittsburghPhiladelphiaand Wilkes-Barre. The organization's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.