Yesterday I wrote how many people are asking me what this stormwater thing is all about, like my name is Rev. Strand, or something. My typical answer is, ‘I know what stormwater is supposed to be about, but I don’t know what Chester stormwater is about.”

Today’s front page story in the Delaware County Daily Times does a good job of describing what stormwater is all about probably better then I tried to describe it in earlier posts. They write:

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ramped up implementation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, requiring stricter stormwater management and municipalities around the state to meet the new requirements.

The goal of the Clean Water Act is to restore all waters of the United States back to their original fishable and swimmable conditions.

All the waterways in Chester – Delaware River, Ridley Creek and Chester Creek – are considered “impaired” by the act, and therefore the city must make the effort to improve water quality.

In my language, it goes like this.

Chester is an old city where the plumbing under the streets were designed to send all waste water (sewer water plus stormwater) to the river. Then came Delcora to the Chester riverfront whose job is to receive sewer water, clean it up, and send it to the river.

Delcora’s job was made harder because many of the pipes in Chester brought them sewer water combined with stormwater.

Recently the government said enough is enough. No more stormwater to the waste water plant. Stormwater should be sent right to the river.

So, Delcora is doing their part in digging up streets to separate stormwater pipes from sewer water pipes leaving the city of Chester responsible for dealing with the stormwater pipes and the water that flows through them.

Now, the government is saying that rain water can no longer take a free ride off your roof, down the sidewalk, to the street, into the storm drain, to the river. Just like Delcora is mandated to clean up sewer water to a certain standard, Chester is now mandated to make sure we’re sending a certain standard of rain water, aka stormwater, to the river.

The new stormwater agency seems to be created to manage that process, but I’m not really sure. What they continue to imply are projects that will reduce the amount of rain water that goes to the river by creating ‘green space’ or city marshes with trees and bushes that will absorb water. So, in the path where water used to flow and end up flooding an area, somewhere in that path will be one of these fancy new marshes to suck up the water. In return we get pretty trees and bushes to look at. Not a bad concept when it works.

From the Daily Times article, we read…

Strand said that the combined efforts of the authority, the EPA and Corvias, who successfully launched a similar program in Prince George’s County, Md., three years ago, will require decades of work and more than $50 million to complete work.

The reason they’re coming for your wallet is because they’ve committed (or is about to commit, or promised someone they will commit) to spend $50 million dollars over 20 or 30 years to get this done.

Plans to improve the area around city hall, Memorial Park, numerous inlets around the city as well as opportunities for jobs, on-site training and programs to help formerly convicted persons get back to work will be among the efforts led by the authority.

But, they just can’t seem to stick to the issue of stormwater. It always gets complicated as a jobs program, or an economic development project, or a large trash reclamation facility. That’s the part that should make everyone nervous. If they’d simply explain that stormwater is the task at hand, why we’re getting stuck with the bill, and how much it really cost, maybe they’d get some support.

(Strand) called on the residents to support the Stormwater Authority of Chester for the transformation it will bring unto Chester. All the invested parties have pledged a 30 year plan to beautify and improve the quality of life to the residents of Chester and to the communities down the Delaware River that rely on it for drinking water.

Maybe because I’ve done a stint in corporate sales, I can convincingly say that’s one of the worst sales pitches I’ve ever heard, on so many levels. And when you think it couldn’t go more downhill, here comes this…

“We need to do something to help ourselves,” Strand said. “It might be painful, but in the end it’s our responsibility.”

Mr. Rev. Dr. Strand. This is no way to talk to folks if you hope to gain support for your project. If you’d like to break off of few thousand dollars my way, I’ll serve as your communications guy.

Good luck at next Friday’s meeting!