PENNSYLVANIA STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

Durla Lathia, P.E.1

 

 

I. Purpose of Program

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Stormwater Management Program provides grant moneys to Counties to develop stormwater management plans for designated watersheds. This planning effort, as required by the Storm Water Management Act of 1978, results in sound engineering standards and criteria being incorporated into local codes and ordinances in order to manage stormwater runoff from new development in a coordinated, watershed wide approach. Without such a planning, stormwater is either not controlled by municipal ordinances, or is addressed on a site to site or municipal boundary basis. Municipalities within the same watershed may require different levels of control of stormwater. The result is often the total disregard of  downstream impacts or the compounding of existing flooding problems.

The program also provides for the research into new stormwater issues and computational techniques of watershed hydrology and water quality and provides technical assistance to individuals and municipalities in solving drainage problems through investigations and by assisting the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) as technical consultants in a program to provide low interest loans to municipal governments to construct projects to solve stormwater runoff problems. The program is also involved in various water quality initiatives working directly with the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Department's Nutrient Management Program and the Coastal Zone Program in research and advisory roles.

 

II. How Program Works

Each county is required to develop stormwater plans for each of its watersheds within its boundary. The Department, since 1985 provides grants to counties up to 75% of costs of preparing the plans. Municipalities are also provided similar grants for plan implementation. The regulations specify that stormwater management plans be undertaken in two phases;

 

Phase I, the preparation of a scope of study (level of effort, personnel details undertaking the effort, time frame, and cost estimates for Phase II) and

 

Phase II, the actual plan preparation.

The process of initiating preparation of a watershed plan begins from a county through the submittal of a "proposal" to prepare a watershed plan to the Department. This proposal indicates which watershed plan is to be prepared and provides an estimated cost for preparing Phase I. This gives estimation to The Department for budgetary purposes. The Department evaluates each proposal for need based on development potential and documented stormwater problems and on the county ability and desire to prepare the plans. Counties who have expended their money up front to prepare a plan, and await reimbursement (allowed under the Act) are given first priority for funding. The remaining proposals and watersheds having completed Phase I and awaiting Phase II are allocated funds. Upon completion of Phase II, the governing body of the county must adopt the plan by resolution. The Department then reviews the plan in cooperation with Department of Community and Economic Development, and other agencies, and checks its consistency with the Act and Guidelines, prior to approval.