Washington Twp. officials dealing with runoff issues to comply with state water pollution rules
Silt running into streams is the biggest challenge Washington Township officials face concerning a state-mandated anti-pollution program.
That’s what Amber Yon of Senate Engineering, the township’s engineers, told residents Thursday.
Yon, who specializes in the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program, briefed residents at the township supervisors meeting as part of the program’s public education requirement.
The purpose of the program is to eliminate pollution caused by chemicals or sediment carried by stormwater runoff from sources such as construction sites and pavement where oil or chemical spills have occurred, into streams and rivers.
It is administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection as part of the federal Clean Water Act.
She said smaller streams in the township’s three watersheds, Beaver Run, Pine Run and Pucketa Creek, have been affected.
“Our streams are impaired,” Yon said. She said Poke Run, Pine Run and Beaver Run are impaired by ‘siltation.’
She said that the township, in tracing sources of pollution, have found none from chemicals — only silt caused by erosion making its way into the streams.
The township has submitted a plan to the state and federal governments aimed at eliminating the problem, which DEP has accepted, according to Yon.
“The township has selected several areas where we will go out and stabilize the stream banks,” she said.
One resident asked Yon about the practice of residents and businesses such as utilities using chemicals to get rid of weeds and vegetation along streams. He asked if the streams would not be better served by leaving the vegetation grow along the banks.
“We certainly wouldn’t recommend destabilizing the stream banks by using weed killers,” she said.
However, she said the township has no say over what utilities do within their rights of way.
Supervisors Chairman Rich Gardner said the state and federal governments have not provided money to help with the pollution abatement projects, leaving it to the communities to cover the cost.
That can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He said the township has responded by creating a capital fund specifically for MS4 projects. Gardner said this is the first year for the fund which was financed using about $30,000 from the impact fees from gas well drilling that the township received last year.
He said more money will be added to the fund, probably from the same source, when next year’s budget is compiled in the next few months.
Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.