Stormwater Management

Topic Overview

Stormwater management is defined as the use of practices to reduce, detain, slow down, or remove pollutants from surface water runoff and can be used to restore natural processes previously provided by nature. Stormwater runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt flows over land or impervious surfaces (e.g. paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops) and does not infiltrate into the ground. Stormwater runoff is instead conveyed to storm sewer systems and into the nearest waterbody in many circumstances. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, pathogens, nutrients, chemicals, oils, and sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. In addition, large volumes of stormwater causes flooding, erosion, and degrades fish and wildlife habitat. Green infrastructure, a form of stormwater management, can be utilized to mimic the natural process of absorbing, filtering, and storing rainwater that are often compromised in urban development. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to address both the increase in water quantity and degraded water quality resulting from stormwater runoff. In Pennsylvania, stormwater is regulated by the Storm Water Management Act of 1978, which provided for the regulation of land and water use for flood control and stormwater management purposes, imposing duties and conferring powers on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, municipalities and counties, providing for enforcement and making appropriations. As a result this act, Pennsylvania is authorized to implement The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) which regulates stormwater discharges from three potential sources: Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4’s), construction activities, and industrial activities.

News and Initiatives

  • Begin ANEW Restores Impervious Landscapes  With the help of Environment Erie and Pennsylvania Sea Grant, businesses, nonprofits, citizens and students are reshaping their neighborhoods to minimize the negative impacts of stormwater on the health of the Lake Erie watershed. The Begin ANEW program is intended to reconnect neighborhoods to nature by restoring or retrofitting impervious landscapes and providing education so others can use the techniques on their property. This program installs water conservation projects such as shade and street tree plantings, rain gardens, rain barrels, and storm drain stenciling at a cost-share to interested property owners.

  • Impervious Cover Data for the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Watershed In 2012, the Pennsylvania Sea Grant College Program contracted Woolpert, Inc., to acquire a high resolution impervious cover shapefile for the Pennsylvania Lake Erie watershed. An automated land cover feature extraction process was used to perform the impervious delineation. The data is currently being used to explore the potential for establishing stormwater authorities in MS4 communities. Funding for the project was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program.


Stormwater Management