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Valley News Dispatch

Buffalo Township could need stormwater upgrades

| Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, 12:01 a.m.

While Buffalo Township is up to date on its stormwater management ordinance, some costly updates appear to be coming down the pike.New National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System guidelines will include a requirement that township remove sediment from waterways that results from construction project drainage.

Dave Ivanek, of Bankson Engineers, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the township supervisors and a large audience of residents and businessmen Wednesday night.

The presentation included details on what will be required of homeowners and contractors.

The goal of the national program is to get as few pollutants as possible in the waterways that, in Buffalo's case, includes Buffalo Creek, Little Buffalo Creek, Little Bull Creek and the Allegheny River.

Supervisors will consider adding an impact fee to building permits to pay for sediment removal. The township might also seek state and federal grants to assist with the cost of sediment removal.

Officials said a last resort would be to raise taxes.

Resident Rich Jarmul said when he built his home on Bear Creek Road, complying with the new guidelines added about $5,000 to the construction costs.

“I've already complied,” Jarmul said. “But it was an expense I wasn't prepared to do.”

Ivanek said building smaller structures such as a backyard shed or carport may be exempt from the guidelines.

Another regulation that drew groans from the crowd deals with washing cars in driveways.

The NPDES guidelines discourage putting pollutants like detergents and phosphates into municipal stormwater systems that eventually go into waters where drinking water is derived, such as the Allegheny River that serves numerous Alle-Kiski Valley communities.

Officials said, however, that residents can wash their cars in their yards, which will absorb the cleansers, or in their garages, where wastewater will enter the sewerage system and be treated before reaching the river.

The presentation is part of the requirement that educational information be distributed at public gatherings, such as township meetings.

“If you think what you heard is overwhelming, wait until these standards are implemented,” said township Engineer Ken Howard.

Buffalo Township is required to adopt the standards because the municipality has areas where the average population density is at least 1,000 people per square mile.

Township officials said they are irked because some communities between Buffalo Township and Butler are exempt because of sparse populations.

Therefore, sediment formed in other communities that flows into Buffalo Township has to be removed.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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