Chester County's Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program

Only Rain in the Drain!

 Chester County Government is committed to protecting and improving water quality in our streams.

All County lands and buildings drain to streams that eventually drain to either the Delaware Bay or Chesapeake Bay. Clean streams are vital to our local communities, natural resources and economy, and will help restore both Bays. Stormwater runoff and its pollution are widespread water quality problems, and have degraded over 55% of the streams within Chester County. Chester County’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program has been designed to achieve the following goal:
 Improve and protect the water quality of streams, lakes and waterways that receive runoff from County properties by:

  • Reducing stormwater runoff volume and pollution that is created on, and discharged from, Chester County lands and facilities.
  • Increasing the awareness and involvement of County employees and visitors to County facilities regarding the importance of reducing stormwater pollution, and how they can contribute to protecting our streams, lakes and waterways.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is water that originates during rain events and snow/ice melt. It can soak into the soil (infiltrate); be held on the surface and evaporate; or runoff and end up in nearby streams, rivers or other water bodies. This runoff, and the pollution it picks up as it flows, is the main contributor to water quality pollution in Chester County.

How Does Stormwater Pollution Reach Our Streams?
Stormwater runs off roof tops, sidewalks, driveways, roadways, parking lots, yards, etc. Sometimes it flows directly into streams that run through our valleys. In developed areas, this runoff drains to streets, then enters storm drains, flows through underground stormwater sewer pipes, and eventually discharges to streams. Thus, all particles, trash, cigarette butts, pet waste, lawn chemicals, de-icing salts and chemicals, vehicle fluid droppings, and everything else that accumulates on the pavements and land surfaces are carried by the stormwater into the streams.

Graphic courtesy of Montgomery County, Maryland Department of Environmental Protection

An illustration showing a stormdrain leading into a stream

How Can You Help Protect Our Local Streams?

County employees and visitors to County facilities can pitch in and help protect the local streams and lakes! Here are a few simple things that, collectively, can make a big difference in keeping our natural waterways and water supply sources clean, safe and healthy:

  1. Report illegal dumping

    Spilling, disposing or discharging of any substance into a storm drain is illegal. Call the County at 610-344-6220 if you witness something being poured, dumped, disposed or discharged into or in the immediate vicinity of a storm drain on any County property. If you witness any illegal dumping beyond County-owned properties, call the local municipality to report what you've seen.
  2. Nothing but rain in the drain

    Never pour or throw trash, liquids or any substance into a storm drain. These drains are directly connected to the local stream! And it's against the law!!
  3. Fix car fluid leaks and watch where you wash

    Repairing leaks and spills from vehicle fluids helps avoid chemicals from collecting on parking lots and roadways to be washed into storm drains, and ultimately into streams during rain events. Your car will thank you, and so will your waterways. Washing your car at a commercial facility is another great way to protect local streams, since they have the capacity to capture and properly dispose of the waste water. 
  4. Pick up pet waste

    Pet waste contains bacteria, parasites, and other things that can easily be washed into storm drains and streams when it rains. Even when it is not raining, pet waste can create health risks if left in areas where children, play such as parkland and along County trails. Carry disposable bags and pick up after your pet when out on walks or in your yard. Bag it, seal it and deposit it in a trash can or waste receptacle.
  5. Put trash in its place

    Whether at the library, a County office building, a park or a trail, place all waste in trash or recycling containers. Trash that accumulates in public areas can make it look uncared for and unsafe, but it can also be carried by stormwater through storm drains and into local creeks and streams.
  6. Put your winter surfaces on a low-salt diet

    Salt from winter de-icing is rapidly becoming a widespread water pollution problem. It dissolves and is carried into streams or infiltrates into groundwater. Consider using alternatives like sand in place of chemical de-icers. If salting is essential, make sure it is stored in a place that is covered and contained. And when applying, make sure to always follow the manufacturer's instructions on how much to use. Putting down extra salt won't actually help ice to melt, so only use what you need!
  7. Get involved with and support your local watershed conservation organization

    Join a stream cleanup or other water-focused event hosted by your local watershed group. You could even become a Master Watershed Steward through the Penn State Extension. 

Check Out Online Brochures
For more information on how to protect our streams and water quality, and improve environmental stewardship of our streams, check out our suite of resources and publications

Storm Drain Maintenance - Keep it Clean!

  • Never pour or throw things down storm drains. They are directly connected to the local stream!
  • Keep storm drains free of lawn clippings, leaves, and other natural debris to make sure function properly.
  • Protect sidewalks, curbs, streets and gutters before making repairs or performing minor maintenance.
  • Place a container under the oil pan, brake line or other auto part, which is, or may leak heavily.
  • Place pads, cardboard, newspaper of kitty litter when using chemicals to catch spills.
  • Store used transmission, brake or other fluids, and recycle used oil and antifreeze in a secure location where they can’t spill or wash into a storm drain. Then recycle the fluids at a service station.
  • Place only lightly soiled absorbent materials in the trash.
A cartoon fish with the text 'No Dumping! Drains To Creek'

Protecting Our Waterways:
Chester County's Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program Overview

Chester County’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program is a comprehensive response to reducing the County’s impact on streams and waters of the County. These actions are intended to eliminate or minimize impacts from County operations and facilities on the water quality of our streams and waterways.

The Program has six elements, called minimum control measures, or MCMs, that when implemented together, reduce pollutants generated and discharged from County properties. These six MCMs are:

For more information about Chester County's stormwater programs and tips on how you can protect streams in your community, click here to watch a recording of "Our Watershed Footprint," originally presented as a webinar in June, 2023.

Employee Stormwater Webinar 2023 Opens in new window

  1. Public Education & Outreach
    • Provide programs, educational materials and activities to increase the awareness and understanding of employees and visitors to County facilities of the impacts of stormwater pollution and the importance of protecting the water quality of streams. Annual events include:
      • County facilities trash cleanup, co-hosted by Go Green ChesCo
      • the Chester County Municipal Stormwater Summit
      • Chester County Envirothon
      • annual County employee stormwater meetings
  2. Public Participation
    • Provide, develop and implement opportunities for citizens to be involved with program development and implementation.
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination
    • Routinely inspect, identify and eliminate any discharges entering the County's storm sewer system that are not compromised solely of stormwater.
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control
    • Ensure all County-owned construction projects are conducted in accordance with applicable state and municipal erosion, sediment and stormwater control regulations, and that proper runoff controls function as intended during storm events.
  5. Post-Construction Runoff Control
    • Ensure that all County-owned facilities are designed and built to incorporate low-impact and "green infrastructure" control features, and to comply with the post-construction stormwater controls required by applicable state and municipal regulations.
  6. Pollution Prevention & Good Housekeeping 
    • Develop and implement a program with the intent of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff from county operations, including staff training on pollutant prevention measures and techniques.

For More Information

Contact Information

For water and environmental concerns on County properties, please contact 610-344-6220.

A sign describing the negative effects of trash going through a storm drain