Storm Drainage Systems: How and Why Are They Maintained?

Help Prevent Stormwater Flooding   by Keeping Drains  and Creeks Clean

 

Grass, hedge clippings, leaves, and woody debris can clog storm drains and culverts, flooding our roads and harming our creeks. North Franklin Township code prohibits blowing yard waste into the street for this reason. Following the steps below can help protect local streams and drainage systems benefitting both homeowners and wildlife.

Keep Grass and Leaves out of Streets and Streams

Blowing grass and leaves into the street allows them to wash into storm drains that can become clogged and cause flooding.

Clippings that pass through storm drains go directly into local streams where they decompose and act as major pollutants by increasing nitrogen to unsafe levels for fish and other aquatic life.

To prevent flooding and maintain water quality, do not leave yard waste to decompose on creek banks.

What You Can Do

  • Keep all fallen leaves and grass clippings out of the street. A mulch-mower is ideal for retaining and spreading clippings on your lawn which decompose quickly, providing important nutrients and creating an organic layer that encourages stormwater infiltration. This technique can significantly reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers

  • Set mower height to 3 inches or higher. The taller grass slows the rate of runoff and will produce a deeper and denser root system. Better roots absorb more water, reduce lawn runoff, prevent erosion, and also suppress weeds from growing up around them.

  • Compost leaves on site away from storm drains, wetlands and streams. Contain your compost to keep nutrient-rich water from leaching into the storm system.

  • Participate in the Township’s leaf collection in October & November. Details will be available on the Township website: northfranklin.org.

  • Remove debris from clogged storm drains, if you can do so without placing yourself in danger,. If you require help with cleaning a drain or see a clogged culvert, please call the Township office at 724-228-3330.

We appreciate your help in keeping our stormwater system and creeks clean!


Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community

This is a simple guide to understanding what DEP requires of those who want to work in or adjacent to streams. Stream work that is not properly designed and permitted can cause conditions to worsen in the next flood event, also impacting downstream neighbors.

Whether you are a municipal official well versed in regulations or a resident experiencing flooding for the first time, this will help you figure out your next steps. When in doubt, the first step should always be to contact your regional DEP office. DEP staff are ready and willing to assist in several ways.

 

 Green Light – Go!

  • Proceed – These actions do not require DEP notification, pre-approval, or permits:

  • Removing non-native (manmade) material, such as litter and construction debris, from the stream, banks, and riparian areas

  • Removing woody debris, such as trees, logs, or brush, from the stream while you are standing in the stream (this includes the use of hand-held equipment, such as chainsaws, but not heavy equipment)

  • Removing woody debris from the stream while you are standing on the bank (this includes the use of heavy equipment, so long as it remains on the bank and is “picking out” the material and not digging into the streambed)

  • Chaining or winching large woody debris and dragging it from the streambank

  • Cutting trees off at the stump (keeping the stumps helps stabilize the bank)

  • Cleaning out culverts

  • Removing gravel and flood debris from around bridges and culverts according to the terms of your permit (contact DEP or your County Conservation District to review your permit conditions)

  • Planting trees and other plants on streambanks and in riparian areas, especially native species

  • Adopting or implementing stormwater management ordinances and best management practices

  • Crossing the stream to access your property immediately after a flood emergency (but only if the conditions are safe)

 Yellow Light – Slow Down!

  • Contact DEP – These actions likely require DEP notification, verbal pre-approval, emergency permits, or other permits. For projects that pose an imminent threat to life, property, or the environment, such permissions are usually readily obtained. 

  • Call DEP before you begin:

  • Rebuilding roads and bridges across streams

  • Streambank stabilization projects

  • Armoring streambanks with an engineered riprap

  • Armoring streambanks with an engineered riprap design in emergency situations

  • Removing gravel bars from the stream channel using heavy equipment (gravel must be safely relocated out of the floodplain to an upland area that is not a wetland)

  • Repairing a bridge or culvert

  • Removing a bridge or culvert in danger of failure, or in partial or complete collapse (if a bridge or culvert is no longer serviceable, it can be considered debris and removed)

 Red Light – Stop!

  • Contact DEP – These actions definitely require permits, if allowed at all, and may require involvement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or other agencies.

  • Call DEP before you begin:

  • Redirecting the flow of a stream by reshaping gravel bars, or moving gravel to the streambank

  • Armoring streambanks with concrete, construction debris, and other impervious materials

  • Moving (relocating) a stream

  • Dredging streams

  • Creating dikes

  • Damming Streams

  • Building a new bridge or culvert

 Remember: When in Doubt, Call DEP!

  • PA Department of Environmental Protection

  • Southwest (Pittsburgh) Regional Office

  • 400 Waterfront Dr.

  • Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745

  • Telephone: 412-442-4000

 

This link provides a wealth of information relating to storm water education and practical examples taking place within the Commonwealth to improve our overall water conditions.

– http://stormwaterpa.org/

 

Comments are closed.