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The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania

Stormwater Management

When it Rains, It Drains!

Understanding storm water and how it can affect your money, safety, health and the environment:

What is Storm Water?

Storm water is… water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement when it rains or when snow and ice melt. The water seeps into the ground or drains into what we call storm sewers. These are the drains you see at street corners or at low points on the sides of streets. Collectively, the draining water is called storm water runoff.

Rain is an important part of nature’s water cycle, but there are times it can do more damage than good. Problems related to storm water runoff can include:
• Flooding caused by too much storm water flowing over hardened surfaces such as roads and parking lots, instead of soaking into the ground.
• Increases in spending on maintaining storm drains and the storm sewer system that become clogged with excessive amounts of dirt and debris.
• Decreases in sport fish populations because storm water carries sediment and pollutants that degrade important fish habitat.
• More expensive treatment technologies to remove harmful pollutants carried by storm water into our drinking water supplies.
• Closed beaches due to high levels of bacteria carried by storm water that make swimming unsafe.

We can help rain restore its good reputation while protecting our health and environment while saving money for ourselves and our community. Keep reading to find out how…

Restoring Rain’s Reputation… What Everyone Can Do To Help:

Rain by nature is important for replenishing drinking water supplies, recreation and healthy wildlife habitats. It only becomes a problem when pollutants from our activities like car maintenance, lawn care and dog walking are left on the ground for rain to wash away. Here are some of the most important ways to prevent storm water pollution:

  • Properly dispose of hazardous substances such as used oil, cleaning supplies and paint – NEVER pour them down any part of the storm sewer system, and report anyone who does!
  • Use pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides properly and efficiently to prevent excess runoff.
  • Look for signs of soil and other pollutants, such as debris and chemicals, leaving construction sites in storm water runoff or tracked into roads by construction vehicles. Report poorly managed construction sites that could impact storm water runoff to us.
  • Install innovative storm water practices on residential property, such as rain barrels or rain gardens, which capture storm water and keep it on site instead of letting it drain away into the storm sewer system.
  • Report any discharges from storm water outfalls during times of dry weather – a sign that there could be a problem with the storm sewer system.
  • Pick up after pets and dispose of their waste properly. No matter where pets make a mess – in a back yard or at the park – storm water runoff can carry pet waste from the land to the storm sewer system to a stream.
  • Store materials that could pollute storm water indoors, and use containers for outdoor storage that do not rust or leak to eliminate exposure of materials to storm water.

Why is Storm Water “Good Rain Gone Wrong”?

Storm water becomes a problem when it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants as it flows or when it causes flooding and erosion of stream banks. Storm water travels through a system of pipes and roadside ditches that make up storm sewer systems. It eventually flows directly to a lake, river, stream, wetland or coastal water. All of the pollutants storm water carries along the way empty into our waters, too, because storm water does not get treated!

  • Pet wastes left on the ground get carried away by storm water, contributing harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses to our water.
  • Vehicles drip fluids (oil, grease, gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluids, etc.) onto paved areas where storm water runoff carries them through our storm drains and into our water.
  • Chemicals used to grow and maintain beautiful lawns and gardens, if not used properly, can run off into the storm drains when it rains or when we water our lawns and gardens.
  • Waste from chemicals and materials used in construction can wash into the storm sewer system when it rains. Soil that erodes from construction sites causes environmental degradation, including harming fish and shellfish populations that are important for recreation and our economy.

For a copy of this information click here:

For more Information about how you can help click here: A homeowner’s guide to stormwater management

And to learn more about where all that water goes Click here: What is a watershed?

Municipal Stormwater System

NPDES PAG-13 General Permit, MS4 Progress Report

The Borough of Lansdowne is one of approximately 1,000  jurisdictions in Pennsylvania that are considered small municipal separate stormwater systems (MS4’s), requiring a permit
from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).

Stormwater Requirements
The stormwater requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act are administered under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer
(MS4) Program. Under the MS4 Program, permittees are required to incorporate the follow six elements (known as minimum control measures, or MCMS) into their stormwater Management Programs:

  • Public education and outreach
  • Public Involvement and participation
  • Illicit discharge detection and elimination
  • Construction site runoff control
  • Post construction stormwater management in new development and redevelopment
  • Pollution prevention and good housekeeping for municipal operations and maintenance

Each  MCM has a series of suggested Best Management Practices (BMP’S) associated with it to guide permit holders in the program development, tracking, and reporting.

For more information about the NPDES and MS4  check out the following links:

NPDES Permit Program Basics

EPA MS4 Fact Sheets

EPA Stormwater Program Overview

EPA MS4 Overview

EPA Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts

EPA Stormwater Outreach Materials

Local State agencies that also enforce Stormwater Management in  PA are the:  PA Department of Environmental Protection

DEP Southeast Regional Office

DEP Stormwater Management Program

DEP Water Quality Standards Webpage

DEP Pool Water Fact Sheet


Local Organizations that you might interested in  to help with Stormwater Management are the following:

Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association

Delaware County Conservation District

Maintaining stormwater basins – PEC


If you have any questions about draining your above ground pool and emptying your in ground pool  Better check this out:

 Pollution Control Over Stormwater
What Is An “Illicit Discharge”?
Federal regulations define an illicit discharge as “…any discharge to an MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater…” with some exceptions.
These exceptions include discharges from NPDES-permitted industrial sources and discharges from fire-fighting activities. Illicit discharges (see Table 1) are considered “illicit” because MS4s are not designed to accept, process, or discharge such non-stormwater wastes.
Table 1
Sources of
Illicit Discharges include the following:
Sanitary wastewater
Effluent from septic tanks
Car wash wastewaters
Improper oil disposal
Radiator flushing disposal
Laundry wastewaters
Spills from roadway accidents
Improper disposal of auto and
household toxics

Why Are Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Efforts Necessary?

Discharges from MS4s often include wastes and wastewater from non-stormwater sources. A study conducted in 1987 in Sacramento, California, found that almost one-half of the water discharged from a local MS4 was not directly attributable to precipitation runoff. A significant portion of these dry weather flows were from illicit and/or inappropriate discharges and connections to the MS4.

Illicit discharges enter the system through either direct connections (e.g., wastewater piping either mistakenly or deliberately connected to the storm drains) or indirect connections (e.g., infiltration into the MS4 from cracked sanitary systems, spills collected by drain outlets, or paint or used oil dumped directly into a drain). The result is untreated discharges that contribute high levels of pollutants, including heavy metals, toxics, oil and grease, solvents, nutrients, viruses, and bacteria to receiving waterbodies. Pollutant levels from these illicit discharges have been shown in EPA studies to be high enough to significantly degrade receiving water quality and threaten aquatic, wildlife, and human health.

 To report a  stormwater pollution incident, please use the “how may we help you” form located here: or report a municipal services concern at:




These useful websites will allow you to have access to additional stormwater information.
Caring for your streamside property

Keeping Pool Water from Damaging Stream

Rain Gardens


Rain gardens are a natural and beautiful way to help your streams. These gardens in slight depressions in the ground trap rainfall from a roof or driveway and prevent it from adding to the polluted runoff that damages streams. Trapped rain water is allowed to slowly sink into the ground while supporting beautiful plants that attract birds and butterflies.

You can create your own rain garden in 3 easy steps…

1. Pick the Right Location and Size
The best locations are in natural depressions or low lying areas where water flows naturally from a downspout, driveway, patio or sidewalk. Avoid steep slopes and areas near septic systems or drinking water wells. You must be able to move water from the hard surface (roof, etc.) to the garden location, either by directing a downspout with an extended tube towards it, or simply by following contours and capturing water that is naturally flowing downhill.
Click here for more detailed information 
about picking the right location

A properly sited and prepared rain garden will not allow mosquitoes to breed. Your rain garden will drain within 24-48 hours after a storm. Mosquitoes need seven days or more to complete a breeding cycle.
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Once you have a location and size for your garden, sketch it out on paper. Determine the mix of species you would like to use, including flowers, grasses, and shrubs that are drought tolerant but can withstand wet conditions. Native plants are adapted to local conditions, easy to maintain and attract birds and butterflies. Fill in your sketch with your selected plants.
Click here for more detailed information
about design and plant selection


3. Construct and Plant your Garden
Spray paint or otherwise mark on the ground the exact shape of your rain garden. Excavate to a depth of 4-8 inches, creating a berm on the downslope side of your garden using the removed sod. Amend your soil as needed to improve drainage. Try to keep the bottom of the basin as flat as possible to increase the area that will come in contact with water regularly. Add plants following your design, placing species that need the most water in the lowest lying areas or in the most direct path from the downspout.
Click here for more detailed information
about constructing and planting your rain garden


By using native plants in your rain garden you are giving your plants the best chance to survive the wide range of weather conditions they will experience, from long droughts to large storms. Native plants also support the largest number of wildlife species, including birds, butterflies, and bees.

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This project has been funded by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund through a Section 319 federal Clean Water Act grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Special thanks to the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Philadelphia Water Department for the graphics.
Artwork © 2013 by Frank McShane, Merle Manwaring and


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