MS4 & McCandless

With an ever-changing quandary of rules, regulations and requirements, stormwater management in Pennsylvania often can be confusing to understand. Hopefully, the information below will help residents of the Town of McCandless to know why these requirements are in place. As you will discover, these requirements are mandated by federal and state laws.

What is an MS4? An MS4, or Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, is comprised of drainage systems including streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ponds, ditches, manmade channels and storm pipes owned by a state, county, city, town, township, borough or other public entity. Untreated or uncontrolled stormwater runoff is the number one cause of impairment in our local waterways. Polluted runoff is often transported through municipal drainage systems until it eventually discharges untreated into streams, lakes and rivers. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater Phase II regulations require permit coverage for stormwater discharges from MS4s, mainly those in urbanized areas. Therefore, most municipalities - including the Town of McCandless - are required to comply with the MS4 Program.

MS4 Programs are intended to improve our nation's surface waters by reducing the quantities of pollutants that are picked up by runoff and transported into the storm sewer systems during rainfall. As part of the MS4 Program, municipalities hold a permit to discharge stormwater into local waterways. This permit requires the municipalities to implement and maintain a stormwater management program that (1) reduces the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent possible, (2) protects water quality and (3) satisfies the water quality requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act. In Pennsylvania, the MS4 Program is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The MS4 Program has six elements termed "minimum control measures" that, when implemented, should result in significant reduction in pollutants discharged into receiving waters. The six minimum control measures and the actions required include:

  1. Public Education and Outreach - Distribute educational materials and conduct outreach to inform citizens about the impacts that stormwater runoff has on water quality.
  2. Public Participation/Involvement - Provide opportunities for residents to participate in the stormwater management program or other programs which improve water quality
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination - Develop and implement a plan to detect and eliminate non-stormwater discharges into the stormwater system.
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control - Develop, implement and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction site activities that disturb one acre or greater.
  5. Post-Construction Runoff Control - Develop, implement and enforce a program to address discharges of post-construction stormwater runoff from new development or redevelopment areas.
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping - Develop and implement a program that reduces or prevents pollutant runoff from municipal operations.

All municipalities should be committed to improving water quality through better management of stormwater runoff. The Town of McCandless is committed to this goal. Immediately upon the adoption of the Stormwater Management Act in 1978, McCandless embraced the implementation of stormwater management techniques. It started very simply. Since 1978, the Town has been on a quest to put into action pragmatic and constantly up-to-date best management practices in managing stormwater throughout the Town. This quest more recently, under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DEP direction, focuses on water quality along with stormwater management techniques.

Learn more about the Town of McCandless Stormwater Management Timeline.

Diagram of the Water Cycle

Every resident can participate in their municipal stormwater program by reducing or preventing pollutant runoff from their own property and by reporting any non-stormwater discharges into the town's drainage system.

There are numerous things we can do on a daily basis to keep pollution out of our waterways. The following are just a few things we all can do to help improve water quality on our streams, rivers and lakes:

  • Never dump anything into storm drains, swales or streams
  • Pick up litter from the street before it gets into storm drains
  • Use limited amounts of fertilizer
  • If you must use pesticides, search for an environmentally-friendly brand
  • Recycle motor oil, paint and other hazardous chemicals. Never dump such materials down the drain or into the storm system
  • Recycle glass, plastic and aluminum
  • Always pick up your pet's waste, or else harmful bacteria can get into our water