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.

Chester County Board of Commissioners' Priorities & Goals

(2017, Excerpt)
  • Manage Stormwater & Flooding Citizen Benefit - Managing stormwater reduces the impacts of runoff and flooding, avoiding or lessening damage to infrastructure, harm to the environment and threat to public safety.
  • Improve Water Quality Citizen Benefit - Improving and protecting the quality of streams in the County provides clean water, preserves natural habitat and reduces flood issues. The improvement of local streams leads to an improvement in the health of the regional watershed ultimately impacting the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.

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. 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!!
  2. Cigarette butts, coffee/ drink cups & lids, snack wrappers, plastic drink bottles

    - don't drop these on the ground or in parking lots! Put them in a recycle bin or trash receptacle. None of these evaporate; all wash to the streams. Keep a small bag in your car for trash and dispose of it when you get to a recycle or trash can.
  3. Fix car fluid leaks

    - repairing leaks and drops from your car's fluids helps avoid vehicle chemicals from collecting on parking lots and being washed into storm drains, then into streams during rain events. A bit of prevention can help save several fish in the streams.
  4. Pick up pet waste

    - pet droppings contain bacteria and parasites as well as nutrients, all of which create water quality problems. Every time it rains, pet waste left to decay can be washed into streams and storm drains. Even when it is not raining, these droppings are unsafe and unhealthy to be left in areas where children play such as parkland and along County trails. Carry disposable bags and pick up your pet's waste 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 trash and waste in trash receptacles. Trash that accumulates in public areas can make it look uncared for and unsafe. It will be carried by stormwater through storm drains and into local creeks and streams.
  6. Participate

    in stream cleanup events.
  7. 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.

Some additional things you can do at home and in your neighborhood to help reduce pollution and protect streams and waterways:

Avoid Using Salt for De-icing

Salt from de-icing is rapidly becoming a widespread water pollution problem. It dissolves and is carried into streams, storm drains and infiltrates into groundwater.
  • Consider using non-salt de-icing chemicals. Sand and bird seed are used in place of chemical de-icers. Experiment with what works for you.
  • If salt is essential, store it AWAY FROM storm drains. Cover it to avoid rain from washing the salt into storm drains and streams.

Automobile Care

  • Wash your vehicles at a commercial facility. Here wash water is treated and must be directed to the sanitary sewer that goes to the local wastewater treatment plant, or captured for proper disposal.
  • Consider washing your car on a porous surface such as grass, so the wash water can soak into the soil, be treated by soil particles and microbes, and be filtered before it enters the groundwater.
Maintenance - Keep it Clean!
  • Never pour or throw things down storm drains. They are directly connected to the local stream!
  • 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'
Fats, Oils & Grease
  • Scrape food from dishes into waste cans before rinsing to greatly reduce the amount of grease and food particles entering the drain.
Support Your Local Watershed Conservation Organization
Join and participate in their stream protection activities and educational programs.

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 a variety of our publications.
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 County’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program has six (6) elements, called minimum control measures, or MCMs, that when implemented together, reduce pollutants generated and discharged from County properties:
GSC Group Photo
  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.
    • April 22, 2021: Go Green Chesco Grounds Cleanup Event
    • April 16, 2021: Chester County Municipal Stormwater Summit
    • November 7, 2019: Stormwater and You: Shaping the County's Pollution Reduction Program
    • Chester County Envirothon
  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 property, please contact 610-344-6220.
A sign describing the negative effects of trash going through a storm drain