(5/2017) The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted regulations in 1999 that require municipalities in growing areas with housing developments, like those in many areas of Adams County, to implement storm water management programs to help control "pollution" from storm water runoff.
The EPA regulations apply to municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), and mandate the adoption of ordinances or other regulatory measures to implement local storm water management programs.
The EPA regulations aim to eliminate the brown water you see in our rivers and streams following a heavy rain or storm. However, silt – as it is known – has been a fact of life in our waterways since the beginning of time when a good hard rain and fast-moving water would churn up the fine sand, clay, minerals and other sediment resting on the bottom of a riverbed or
waterway and carry it a little further downstream.
The Mississippi delta is one of the more notable beneficiaries of this fertile sediment and, when used in agriculture, it can enrich soil, making it more productive. Heavy silt could make life more challenging for shellfish and other species that filter their nutrients from the water, but there is little, if any, evidence to show this is happening in our area.
As I see it, the regulations are ill conceived and cost prohibitive. They serve to fix a problem where none exists. This is yet another unfunded mandate handed down by the federal government that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
The federal regulations, which are being implemented by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), require MS4s to prohibit non-storm water discharges, have erosion and sediment controls, apply strict post-construction runoff controls from development and impose sanctions for non-compliance. What this means is that DEP will dictate what hoops
municipalities must jump through and punish them if they don’t.
In Conewago Township, where this MS4 program is being implemented, the township supervisors have accepted this mandate, hired costly engineers to do studies and measure progress that cannot be measured, and raised taxes and fees by $500,000 to cover the anticipated annual price tag.
This project amounts to an engineer’s dream come true! As a taxpayer living in a municipality that has adopted the MS4 program, how are we to know how much engineering is needed to satisfy the requirements of the program? Should we buy a tractor trailer load when a pickup will do? What’s worse, if you are a new homeowner, you are already paying for the new regulations,
which require all new residential developments to have a retention basin and seepage pits – adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home.
I do not accept these mandates. I believe it is a federal government overreach and have called for meetings with DEP and township officials. In the meantime, I have drafted House Resolution 107, which is now in committee. My resolution urges the U.S. Congress to repeal the EPA’s MS4 Program. These onerous regulations fail to identify a clear and measurable objective while
threatening to cost taxpayers in communities across the Commonwealth billions of dollars we can ill afford.
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