Tarentum Borough’s Stormwater Program

The Borough of Tarentum recognizes that storm water is a very important natural resource that provides a source for our drinking water supplies, water for our crops, lawns and gardens, and a replenishment of our streams, ponds and lakes which in turn provide recreation opportunities and enhanced aesthetic value to our community.  In order to protect our natural waterways, The Borough of Tarentum has implemented a program to regulate the storm water that is intercepted by its municipal separate storm sewer system, or MS4.  This program was initiated by a state-wide mandate for small- to medium-sized communities with MS4s, such as Borough of Tarentum, to be permitted under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP’s) National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II permit program. This webpage provides general information on storm water and on the Borough’s MS4 stormwater program.

What is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater runoff is water from rainfall, snowmelt, and/or ice melt that does not soak into the ground but that flows over ground across wooded areas, lawns, streets, parking lots or other surfaces.  Stormwater runoff may flow directly into streams and rivers or it may be intercepted and collected by storm sewers where it is then discharged into waterways such as streams, rivers, lakes or wetlands.

What is an MS4?

MS4 is an acronym for a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.  An MS4 is defined as a collection and conveyance system or a group of collection and conveyance systems owned, operated and maintained by a state, city, township, borough, or institution (i.e. university, prison, etc.).  An MS4 collects and conveys only storm water runoff and conveys it into streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands or other natural or man-made receiving waters within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The MS4 system typically includes storm pipes, catch basins, and storm manholes.  The MS4 system may also include structures such as trench drains, roadside swales and cross drains, curb-and-gutter, man-made channels, detention ponds, infiltration basins, rain gardens or other structures designated for the collection, storage and conveyance of stormwater runoff.

What is Non-Stormwater Discharge?

Non-stormwater discharge is discharge into the Borough’s MS4 system or natural waterways that is not rainfall or snowmelt.  Non-stormwater discharge includes groundwater exfiltration, mine pool drainage, discharges from potable water sources such as fire hydrants or waterline blow-off valves, sanitary sewer discharges, septic systems, or combined sanitary and storm overflows.  The Borough’s stormwater management ordinance prohibits illicit discharges and connections into its MS4 but does list certain exemptions for non-stormwater discharges.

Why can stormwater runoff be a problem in the Borough?

As stormwater runoff flows over lawns, roadways, parking lots, or land disturbed by construction activities, it accumulates chemicals, oils and grease, debris and litter, sediment, heat or other pollutants that contaminate and adversely affect the water quality of our natural waterways.  Also, as more impervious cover is constructed or as natural vegetation is cleared and the underlying soil is compacted, more stormwater runoff is generated.  Stormwater runoff pollution can lead to deterioration of the quality of our natural waterways which are used for fishing, swimming, boating, as well as sources of our potable water supply.  Increases in stormwater volume can lead to accelerated stream bank erosion and more frequent flooding which can result in damage to and loss of property as well as premature failure of roadways, bridges, and other infrastructure.

What is Tarentum Borough doing about stormwater runoff?

As part of its MS4 permit program, the Borough has implemented several actions required under the NPDES storm water program, permittees must develop a stormwater management plan that provides the details of how the community will comply with the requirements of the permit. Permits are based on six minimum control measures, or MCMs, to ensure the proper handling and discharge of stormwater through its MS4 system.  Such measures include:

  • MCM-1 Public Education & Outreach – An informed community is a very important part of a stormwater management program to insure support and compliance. For this measure the Borough is providing and distributing educational materials concerning stormwater runoff through various outlets to residents, businesses, contractors and developers within the Borough. Storm drain markers are also important to remind those passing by that the storm drains connect to local waterbodies and dumping will pollute those water, so you may start seeing these plaques on the inlets. For more information on this control measure please see Minimum Control Measure #1 general information.
  • MCM-2 Public Participation/Involvement - The public is a valuable asset to a municipal stormwater management plan. The MS4 program can only be successful if the community around is willing to comply and be involved. The Borough is always looking for volunteers, including scouting groups, educators, outdoors clubs, watershed and environmental groups, or any individuals interested in keeping our streams and lakes clean.  For more information or ideas on how you can help out, call the Borough at (724) 224-1818 or please see Minimum Control Measure #2 general information.
  • MCM-3 Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination – Through its Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination program, the Borough has developed a Borough -wide MS4 outfall map showing streets, municipal storm sewers and sewer outfalls into the Allegheny River and Bull Creek within the Borough.  This map will serve as a tool for the Borough to isolate, identify and eliminate sources of non-stormwater discharges through visual inspection of the storm sewer system and dye-testing of sanitary laterals from homes, schools, businesses and industries. Any indications of non-stormwater discharge will prompt the Borough to find and identify the source of these pollutants and take actions to eliminate the source(s).
  • The Borough of Tarentum has adopted an ordinance to prohibit illicit discharges and connections of non-stormwater into its MS4 system and to enable the Borough the authority to fine individuals caught illegally dumping pollutants into its MS4 system. For more information on illicit discharges please see Minimum Control Measure #3 general information.
  • MCM-4 Construction Site Runoff Control – Polluted stormwater runoff from construction sites flows into the MS4 system and into the rivers and streams. The main pollutant concern is sedimentation. The Borough has adopted an ordinance for the regulation of stormwater management of land disturbance activities and contractors need to be aware of the requirements and how to satisfy them. For more information on this control measure please see Minimum Control Measure #4 general information.
  • MCM-5 Post Construction Runoff Control - The Borough has adopted an ordinance for the regulation of stormwater management for the handling of stormwater runoff from a site after it has been developed.  The Borough also provides educational material to developers and contractors who come to Borough for building permit applications.  The Borough also utilizes the technical support services of the Westmoreland Conservation District to review land disturbance plans to ensure that these plans are sufficient in addressing construction site stormwater and post-construction stormwater and to conduct site inspections to ensure that the sites are being constructed in accordance with the approved plans. For more information on this control measure please see Minimum Control Measure #5 general information.
  • MCM-6 Pollution Prevention/Good House Keeping – This is a crucial part of any MS4 program and by the Borough keeping their system clean it should encourage you to do the same. The Borough is 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, salt stockpiling to minimize any detrimental impacts that these operations may have on the MS4 system.  The Borough has prepared a general stormwater management plan that includes a municipal operations guidance document general stormwater management plan provides more information on these types of operations. For more information on this control measure please see Minimum Control Measure #6 general information.

What can residents of Tarentum Borough do to improve stormwater quality in the Borough?

It takes everyone to provide continual improvement to the waterways within Tarentum Borough. We would hope that every person realizes that what is dumped into the Borough’s MS4 system, ultimately ends up in the streams, rivers and lakes that we all care about.  Here are several things each of us can do to help keep our waterways clean.

  • Do not dump any chemicals, oils or other automotive fluids, grease, pet waste, grass clippings or other yard debris, fertilizers, etc. into storm inlets, catch basins, roadside ditches or directly into stream channels.  This can lead to endangerment of the health of fish and other aquatic life, decrease in recreational opportunities and impairment of drinking water. In fact, the Borough’s Ordinance prohibits any pollutants and other non-stormwater discharges from being put into the Borough’s municipal separate storm sewer system.
  • Keep your car or truck well-maintained and repaired in a timely manner to eliminate any leaks from your vehicle.
  • Do not litter or illegally dump.  Always dispose of any trash in its proper location and recycle whenever possible.  Car batteries can be turned it at most automotive parts stores.  Used motor oil and worn tires can be turned into most service shops.
  • Follow the instructions when applying fertilizers and pesticides to your lawn or garden and never apply these products immediately before a rain storm. Use fertilizers sparingly and use least toxic pesticides.
  • Vegetate bare spots in your yard and compost your yard waste. Also direct down spouts away from paved surfaces; consider a rain garden to capture runoff.
  • Notify the Borough at 724-224-1818 if you see any pollutants or non-stormwater discharge in the Borough’s MS4 system or natural waterways.

Related Links and more information for the Borough’s Stormwater Program:

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