Welcome to the Ellwood City Borough’s stormwater management information page. This page is to provide Borough residents with access to information to protect the water quality of Connoquenessing Creek. Ellwood City Borough, and surrounding communities, are actively involved in a variety of programs to meet various state and national goals for clean water. Ellwood City Borough residents have a role to play, also. When combined with other communities in the Connoquenessing Creek Watershed, these activities will have a tremendous positive effect on the overall water quality present in the stream.
The Borough is actively involved in meeting statutory permitting requirements under state and federal law. To fulfill our permitting requirements, the Borough is active in a variety of programs and strategies to enhance the implementation of several “best management practices (BMPs)” aimed at locating and understanding local problems that may be reducing the quality of our stormwater, as well as others solely focused on general avoidance of future problems.
What is Stormwater?
Stormwater, or more specifically, stormwater runoff, is the water flowing over the ground or pavement, when it either rains, snows, or when the snow melts in the spring. Generally, in Ellwood City, stormwater runoff enters storm sewers along the street, before it is ultimately discharged to Connoquenessing Creek.
What is the Problem with Stormwater Runoff?
Stormwater runoff becomes a problem when it picks up debris, fertilizer, pet wastes, dirt or other pollutants, as it flows over land or paved areas. Stormwater runoff then carries these contaminants through road side ditches, or through the system of conveyance pipelines, discharging them to Connoquenessing Creek.
Residential Solutions to Stormwater Pollution
As stormwater flows over driveways, lawns, and sidewalks, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants. Stormwater then is captured by the Borough’s stormwater conveyance system and discharged to Connoquenessing Creek. Since stormwater does not get treated, anything that enters our storm sewer system also enters local waterways, and has a direct effect on local and downstream water quality.
Since the widespread implementation of treatment for wastewater, polluted runoff has become recognized as the nation’s greatest threat to clean water. By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet wastes, grass clippings, and automotive fluids (ie. used oil, antifreeze, etc.) off of the ground and out of stormwater.
The Borough’s Stormwater Regulatory Requirements
The Borough of Ellwood City is one of many municipalities located on the western side of Pennsylvania that have been required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to receive a permit for the discharge of stormwater. The Borough was listed by the US EPA due to our proximity to Pittsburgh and the size and concentration of our population. As a result, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) has issued the Borough permit coverage under their general permit for the discharge of our stormwater, called “Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s)”.
Under the permit, the Borough is required to institute a multi-faceted program based on “Six Minimum Controls Measures (MCM)” to help to reduce the potential for continued pollution of area stormwater runoff. The six minimum controls include developing programs in the following:
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Involvement/Participation
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Stormwater Runoff for New Development
- Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
What Will the Borough Do To Meet Its Minimum Control Measures?
Public Education and Outreach. The Borough is distributing and displaying educational materials concerning stormwater runoff at the Borough building and through various outlets to residents, businesses, contractors, and developers. Several links to additional information are also included below.
Public Involvement/Participation. Periodically, the Borough will hold public meetings to introduce and discuss our ongoing activities in this program.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination. An “illicit discharge” is any discharge of non-stormwater to the Borough’s stormwater conveyance system and is illegal under the Borough’s environmental ordinances. Through the Borough’s illicit discharge detection and elimination program, the Borough has developed a Borough-wide MS4 outfall map showing streets, municipal storm sewers and stormwater outfalls (discharge points). The map will serve as a tool for the Borough to isolate, identify, and eliminate sources of non-stormwater discharges through visual inspection of storm sewer system and testing discharge flows as needed to assess whether there is a discharge of contaminants. Borough staff will be inspecting each of these stormwater discharge points over the next five years to assess whether illicit discharges are present.
Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control. The Borough is providing educational materials to developers and building contractors during the Borough’s building permitting process to help to educate them on the problems associated with soil erosion. Projects that disturb more than 5,000 square feet are required under state regulations to have a written Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan. Larger development projects that will disturb greater than 1 acre are required by state law to have an NPDES permit for the discharge of stormwater from their construction site.
Post-Construction Stormwater Runoff for New Development. Under the Borough’s Act 167 Stormwater Management Ordinance, a new development is required to install and maintain stormwater management practices to control the rate and volume of stormwater runoff. New developments will be required to inspect and report on the condition of their stormwater management practices annually for the first five years, and after that, every three years, to insure its continued protection.
Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping. The Borough staff are continuously maintaining and tracking its MS4 system through cleaning, repairing, and improving the system to ensure that it is functioning correctly. The Borough is also monitoring all other municipal operations, such as fleet vehicle maintenance, municipal property maintenance, and salt stockpiling, to minimize any detrimental impacts that these operations may have on water quality.
What Can Ellwood City Residents Do to Improve Stormwater Quality?
Continual improvement in the water quality of the Connoquenessing Creek works better with the help of the citizens of Ellwood City. We would hope that every person understands that everything that is dumped into the Borough’s stormwater system ends up in the creek.
While Borough personnel routinely inspect the drainage outfalls for evidence of illicit discharges, our inspectors cannot be everywhere all of the time. If you happen to observe something entering or exiting a stormwater pipe that looks or smells like something other than stormwater, please contact the Borough so that we can remove it at its source and keep our local waterways clean.
Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination
Connoquenessing Creek flows through the heart of Ellwood City Borough and has created much of the beautiful scenery that Borough citizens enjoy. Connoquenessing Creek also acts as the receiving stream for all of the stormwater that runs off of the Borough. Illicit discharges to the stormwater system in Ellwood City can result in a significant reduction in water quality of Connoquenessing Creek.
What is an Illicit Discharge?
State and federal regulations define an illicit discharge as any discharge to the storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater. There are some exceptions to the rule, discharges associated with firefighting activities, landscape irrigation, foundation drains, etc., are allowed to enter the stormwater conveyance system. Sources of illicit discharges include sanitary wastewater, failing septic systems, car wash wastewater, improper oil disposal, radiator flushing disposal, spills from roadway accidents, improper disposal of household toxics, and improper use of pesticides and herbicides. Illicit discharges enter the system, either through direct discharge (ie. deliberate direct connection to stormwater piping or stormwater swales) or indirect discharge (ie. spills reaching stormwater drains or someone dumping contaminants in a storm drain). These illicit discharges drain to Connoquenessing Creek, and may contain large amounts of harmful and toxic materials. These pollutants enter the aquatic system, degrading the water quality and threatening wildlife and human health.
Ellwood City Borough, as well as several other communities in the Pittsburgh region, recently was required to renew their permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for their stormwater drainage systems. This permit requires that the permittee locate and map all of their municipally owned stormwater piping and drainage swales. As a requirement of the permit, Ellwood City Borough is required to inspect these drainage systems periodically to detect any “illicit discharges” coming from their systems.
Simply stated, an illicit discharge is something that is exiting a stormwater pipe or drainage ditch that is not stormwater and could potentially pollute our local streams. A short list of the types of illicit discharges that may be typically found in systems like ours include sanitary wastewater, spilled paint, leaked or dumped oil and other vehicle fluids.
Reporting an Illicit Discharge (CITIZEN COMPLAINT FORM)
While Borough personnel routinely inspect the drainage outfalls for evidence of illicit discharges, our inspectors cannot be everywhere all of the time. If you happen to observe something entering or exiting a stormwater pipe that looks or smells like something other than stormwater, please contact the Borough so that we can remove it at its source and keep our local waterways clean. To report an illicit discharge, call Bob Villella (Borough Manager) at Ellwood City Borough (724-758-7777), or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the complaint form (PDF) regarding Illicit Discharges and deliver or mail it to the Borough building.