What is stormwater? Runoff from rain or melting snow that moves over paved surfaces, like roads, driveways, and sidewalks, into storm drains and streams. Water can’t soak into paved surfaces like it does on areas with grass, plants, and trees.
Why is this a problem? Stormwater picks up pollutants, bacteria, and trash. Stormwater does not go to a water treatment plant- it flows directly to our streams and rivers, which eventually becomes your drinking water. These added pollutants are bad for fish, wildlife, and recreation. Water that would normally soak into the ground goes into our streams, which are not sized to handle the extra water. This extra water causes stream banks to wear away, causing structural, landscape, and water quality problems. Not to mention harm to fish, where fish live, and the insects that fish eat.
Stormwater and Your Municipality: If you live in Allegheny County, you are most likely living in a community that has to take actions to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the storm sewer system, or an MS4 Community (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System). Your municipality has to do things like:
- Provide materials to teach residents about stormwater
- Host or co-sponsor events to involve residents about stormwater
- Make a map of all of the places stormwater enters the system
- Responsibly handle all the oil and waste at the public works facility
- Make a plan to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the storm sewer system
Creative Ways for Communities to Meet the Stormwater Challenge:
The West Allegheny Stormwater Awareness Group (WASAG), is showing us how communities can work together to meet the challenge of reducing stormwater impacts. Representatives from the municipalities of Collier, Coraopolis, Crescent, Findlay, Moon, and North Fayette meet once a month to share what’s going on within their respective communities and discuss opportunities for collaboration.
They purchase educational materials as a group to cut down on costs, built a watershed table to share between each municipality, and share ideas to find solutions together on a watershed basis.
They also partner with the Montour Run Watershed Association for community days and volunteer opportunities. All of these communities are based in the Montour Run Watershed. By working with the local watershed group and with each other, they are better able to leverage information and resources to positively impact our shared water resources and the health of their residents.
Collaboration is key!