Stormwater in Bethlehem Township
Bethlehem Township is working to protect our local streams from being impacted by stormwater pollution, and want our residents to know that we take this seriously. In order to raise public awareness, we are adding these informative pages about the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permit which the PA Department of Environmental Protection issued to the Township. The Township is considered an MS4, or "Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System", and must submit annual reports to the DEP that meet certain requirements.
In decades past, it was customary for only polluting industries to have "discharge" permits, however there was a growing realization that even common land uses impact the environment.
For example, such things as driving cars (oil and antifreeze dripping onto roads, brake lining dust and rubber from tires); maintaining lawns (chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers), pet waste, litter, and soil erosion from construction activities also pollute water running into streams.
When it rains, these pollutants are washed over the land and down storms drains (storm drains are the catch basins with a metal grid alongside the roadway, and the underground piping connecting them). The storm drains ultimately converge, thus concentrating pollutant levels. Storm drains are not connected to a treatment system, so no pollutants are removed from the water.
By far the largest percentage of storm water in Bethlehem Township ends up in the Lehigh River, coming from the Monocacy Creek, Nancy Run and Lehigh River sub-basin #5. The Lehigh converges with the Delaware River in Easton. The northeast corner of the Township is in the Bushkill Creek watershed, which drains directly to the Delaware River. To determine which watershed you live in, see the map below:
Our stormwater program, or MS4, is federally-mandated and operated though the PA DEP. While this is a "mandated" program, it is beneficial for humans and wildlife because it lessens - and makes us more aware of - our impact on the environment. In Pennsylvania and nationwide, almost all municipalities the size and population of Bethlehem Township must meet six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs). Each municipality subject to the regulation must implement a stormwater management program that contains every one of these elements, as well as other requirements. Each municipality must meet all requirements by the end of their 5-year permit term.
The six MCMs are as follows:
MCM 1 - Public Education and Outreach
Educating the residents on Stormwater related issues is vital to the success of the MS4 Program. Since education is so important, Bethlehem Township has been tasked by PADEP to provide residents with access to educational materials. Educational Materials are available HERE
MCM 2 - Public Participation and Involvement
In addition to education, it is important to provide residents with an opportunity to be involved. This can occur in many ways, such as through volunteer events or receiving input on things like the Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP) or ordinances. Please keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities in the near future.
MCM 3 - Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
It is important that we don't harm our local creeks and streams by allowing pollutants to enter our stormwater systems. A good rule to follow is "only rain in the storm drain." If you see anyone dumping anything into the stormwater system, please contact the Township and notify us of the situation.
MCM 4 - Construction Site Runoff Control
Similar to protecting our local waterways in MCM3, it is important that excess sediment is not allowed to enter our stormwater system during construction activities. To avoid this, Erosion and Sedimentation (E&S) controls are utilized during construction. If you ever see water that looks like chocolate milk running off a construction site, please notify the Township so we can work on correcting the issues that may be present.
MCM 5 - Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) in New Development and Redevelopment
Both New Development and Redevelopment projects are required to install Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Post-Construction Stormwater Management of stormwater quantity and quality to help with issues such as flooding and water quality. As part of the requirements from PADEP, Bethlehem Township is required to inspect these BMPs and ensure they are functioning correctly.
MCM 6 - Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations and Maintenance
Municipal operations have a potential to negatively impact our local waterways, such as incorrect disposal of hazardous materials. This MCM is the Township's way to ensure that our operations have the lowest possible impact on our waterways and the environment. PADEP has tasked the Township to create Operation and Maintenance plans so that there is a plan in place to handle any unforeseen situations that may arise.
What can I do to help?
You can make a difference and help us keep our local waters clean. As a visitor to this site, you've already taken the first step: getting informed. Step two: adopt a couple of clean water habits, such as:
*Please note that most vehicle repair businesses accept used motor oil. The Township Municipal Building also has a list of vendors that accept motor oil, batteries, AC fluids, and construction waste.
If you see problems with the stormwater inlets, piping system, or suspected illicit discharges please call Public Works at 610-814-6442.