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Environmental agency seeks management plan clarifications

High water surrounds the Blaise Alexander car dealership on College Avenue last week. The EPA is seeking updates to stormwater management plans in some parts of the region.
High water surrounds the Blaise Alexander car dealership on College Avenue last week. The EPA is seeking updates to stormwater management plans in some parts of the region. CDT photo

An order by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had a few Centre County townships adjusting their stormwater management programs last week.

The EPA announced June 24 that orders had been sent to 85 municipalities in north central and northeast Pennsylvania “requiring improvements to their programs for managing stormwater,” according an EPA news release. Local townships were Harris, College and Patton.

Storm drains and collection systems in the county were not the focus of improvement; most notifications were simply requests for clarification of previously submitted reports, according to those who work for the townships.

“We received an administration order,” Harris Township Manager Amy Farkas said, adding that township engineer Don Franson had spoken with the EPA and verified it.

Farkas said the EPA had been reviewing annual township reports from 2011-12 and required additional clarification on the municipality’s public outreach and education program, as well as the mapping of area outfalls, the waste discharge points into bodies of water.

“We just needed to tighten up what we were doing and send out some information,” Farkas said.

Franson, who also acts as assistant engineer for College Township, said that the EPA requested clarification on the public education and outreach for that township, as well.

“They wanted to know how we determined our target audience,” he said. “Although we had everything laid out, we had no true outreach program listed. We explained that to the EPA and submitted the paperwork.”

In documentation provided by Patton Township Manager Doug Erickson, he verified that the township will increase its efforts in providing “educational material concerning the impacts of stormwater and water quality” to the environmental groups partnered with the township.

Those groups include ClearWater Conservancy, Spring Creek Watershed Commission and Penn State.

Although State College borough was included in the list of municipalities requiring action, EPA permit enforcement officer Michelle Price-Fay said that it had been identified in error.

EPA orders are developed after working with the state to gather information and reviewing annual reports, Price-Fay said.

While local township orders focused primarily on education, they also require municipalities to reduce contaminated stormwater runoff, maintain municipal storm sewer systems and comply with Clean Water Act discharge permits.

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