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Program to restore waterways could be burden for some municipalities

December 6, 2019 Digital Media Exclusive

Brian Kendrick tries to find storm drains to unclog in the 500 block of West Brady Street Brady Street in Butler late Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018.

An ongoing project of the state's Department of Environmental Protection requires municipalities to control the amount of pollutants and sediment that runs into local waterways, but no funding is available to go with the plan's stringent requirements.

The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, known as the MS4, affects the southern portion of Butler County. An MS4 is required in designated municipalities whose stormwater systems are not tied to a sewage system.

Tom Decker, DEP spokesman for the Northwest Regional office, said municipalities containing the two large and 1,059 small MS4s designated in Pennsylvania are required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and develop stormwater management programs.

Some, like Evans City, have done so and have a permit in place, while others, like Saxonburg, have applied for and received a waiver.

Justin Dickey, environmental engineer manager at DEP's Northwest Region, explained that unlike a densely urbanized area like Pittsburgh, Butler County's population is more spread out and development is concentrated in certain areas.

For that reason, many municipalities in the county have waivers instead of permits.

This is an excerpt from a larger article that appeared in Sunday's Butler Eagle. Subscribe online or in print to read the full article.