Factoryville tackles stormwater
BY PAT FARNELLI
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Factoryville Borough has completed its new stormwater management ordinance in cooperation with engineers from Reilly Associates, and is now hoping to educate residents on what they can do to improve local water quality, and inform them on how to comply with the new ordinance when they plan improvements to their properties.
According to borough officials, Factoryville is the first municipality in Wyoming County to have a stormwater management ordinance that meets the criteria established as part of Phase II of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System program.
This was a result of cooperation between the borough council, borough manager Mary Ellen Buckbee, solicitor Paul Litwin, and various state and Wyoming County agencies.
Funding for the development of the ordinance was secured under a state Department of Environmental Protection grant which was written by former borough employee Liz Ratchford.
Factoryville has a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System that is permitted by the DEP.
The MS4 system includes drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches and other drainage features that carry water into the waters of the Commonwealth.
Under the MS4 program, municipalities are required to implement a stormwater management program, which has six components.
Casey Cawley of Reilly Associates noted that one of those minimum control measures involves post construction storm water management.
This regulates stormwater management from a site, including any proposed activity, like new construction or earth disturbing activity.
“DEP requires the borough to implement and enforce the ordinance,” Casey said.
Factoryville developed such an ordinance in 2011 and it was adopted on April 11, 2012, by a vote of borough council.
In the past year, stormwater mapping has been completed by Doble and approved by council, and an informational brochure has been written.
A number of drainage and road repair projects have benefited from the implementation of the plan, and council members have been pleased with the results so far.
The ordinance requires that owners who plan to develop property, or plan to add impervious features to the property, secure a review and approval of the Borough. These include structures, paved driveways, decks, patios, or concrete walks.
It means water will not be absorbed and will run off less than 1500 square feet of impervious area, or less than 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance.
“Our goal is to reduce the burden on the homeowner, so that smaller projects will not require the hiring of an engineer,” Cawley said.
Buckbee explained that while the ordinance requires some work on the part of property owners, the focus of the ordinance is to work with the property owners to get solutions that meet the intent of the ordinance.
That intent is to minimize as much as possible the amount of runoff that enters the municipal drainage system. In that way, there is less potential pollution in the South Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek and points further downstream.
A second objective is to avoid affecting neighboring property owners. Often a development on one property creates some unintentional consequences on a neighboring property. Following the procedures in the ordinance will minimize this potential.
“When a resident or business seeks to add impervious features to a property we ask that they come to the Borough and speak with us,” Buckbee said. “In most cases a solution can be found that minimizes the runoff potential, yet does not hinder the property owners’ plans.”
“We have a procedure for minor projects that allows for waivers to be approved by Council,” said Buckbee. “The waiver, or minor projects category, fits the need of most homeowners when they add such things as garages, driveways or decks.”
The minor projects category is handled by the borough code enforcement officer Howard Jacoby, with advice if needed from the borough engineer.
As part of the process, Reilly Associates developed a brochure that guides the resident through the process. Residents with questions as to the procedure or who wish to get a copy of the ordinance may call the Borough office at 945-7484.