Pennsylvania has a great opportunity to improve water quality by reducing pollution in the coming years through the Department of Environmental Protection’s new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.
MS4 communities operate separate storm sewer systems, which includes storm drains that take in rain water from streets, leading it directly to local waterways.
Those MS4 communities that release stormwater into polluted waterbodies in their areas, as well as those located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, are required to submit Pollutant Reduction Plans (PRP) or a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Plan to address the steps they will take to reduce water pollution over the next five years.
Municipalities must submit these PRP and TMDL plans in addition to their permit applications to PA DEP by September 16, 2017 following a 45-day public participation period. These plans detail the steps municipalities will follow to reduce known water pollutants, including sediment and phosphorus in the coming years.
In addition to the plans, municipalities are required to follow best management practices and document their progress under six minimum control measures, including:
- Public education and outreach
- Public participation and involvement
- Illicit discharge detection and elimination
- Stormwater runoff control at construction sites
- Post-construction stormwater management
- Pollution prevention and good housekeeping
Many of these municipalities have already made their plans available for public comment in order to meet the September deadline. Watershed community members, advocates, and experts have the chance to help shape the effectiveness of these plans by writing and submitting comments to their municipalities’ PRP and TMDL plans.
Luckily, there are resources available to assist those reviewing and commenting on these plans. Here are a few resources created by PennFuture and the Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Water Stormwater Workgroup to help individuals, groups, and organizations to write and submit comments on these plans: