As municipalities across the state grapple with water quality and stormwater management issues, efforts to work collectively are on the upswing. From Allegheny County’s Three River’s Wet Weather Initiative to the Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative, water resource managers recognize the benefits of working together to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve services.
Pennsylvania has 2,562 cities, townships, boroughs, while the PA Department of Environmental Protection lists 372 stormwater management watersheds under their Act 167 planning requirements. This demonstrates that one watershed can encompass many municipalities, and that collaboration leads to better management of shared watershed resources.
Municipal goals to reduce flooding, maintain clean water, and create healthier, greener communities, coupled with stricter water quality regulations, are prompting collaboration in many ways. Examples include:
York County Watershed Implementation Plan: Faced with the challenge of meeting Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution reduction requirements, York County municipalities grouped together under the leadership of the County Planning Commission. A pollution reduction plan was developed for County watersheds that identified the best opportunities for sediment and nutrient pollution reduction projects. Forty four municipalities agreed to contribute funding for priority stormwater, stream bank restoration, and riparian buffer projects. The County is now conducting a feasibility assessment for a county-wide stormwater authority that would help further fund project implementation. Learn more at York County Watershed Plan.
Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative: To help overcome technical and financial barriers to meeting stormwater and watershed management goals and requirements, a group of small and highly urbanized municipalities within the Darby-Cobbs Watershed organized under the Stormwater Collaborative. Among other things, the collaborative has hired a stormwater manager, created a common MS4 permit reporting system, conducted joint public education and outreach programs, and sought funding for stormwater management projects (see Rain Garden Campaign in Eastern Delaware County article). Read more about the Stormwater Collaborative here.
Christina River TMDL Implementation Partnership: With 32 municipalities facing sediment and nutrient reduction requirements, the Chester Water Resources Authority and Brandywine Valley Association developed a TMDL implementation plan which included templates for individual municipalities to submit their TMDL plans. The TMDL Plan used a watershed wide approach to identify regulated MS4 projects, agricultural best management practices (mix of regulatory and voluntary) and watershed conservation stakeholder projects (voluntary). The effort also includes promotion of multi-municipal public education, public involvement, and municipal training activities that support municipalities with their MS4 permit requirements. Learn more at Christina River TMDL Partnership.
Allegheny County Three River’s Wet Weather Initiative: The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and the Allegheny County Health Department joined forces to create the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program in 1998 to help the 83 Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) municipalities address the region’s sewage overflow problem including combined sanitary and storm sewers. Much of this effort is focused on multi-municipal projects, particularly those that include studies or activities that lead to sewer system consolidation. Read more at 3 Rivers Wet Weather.
The above examples are just a few of multi-municipal collaboration efforts occurring across the state and country. Collaboration helps municipalities improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and make smart decisions on how to achieve clean water and healthy watersheds goals.