Stormwater and Chester Township’s Watershed
No matter where you are in New Jersey, you are in a watershed. Watersheds are everywhere … from your front doorstep to the local park to the shopping mall to the creek down the road. Watersheds are the link between our land, our water and our communities because the quality of our water is linked to how we use the watershed surrounding it. Stormwater management is the regulated process for ensuring the health and functionality of our watershed. The health of our watershed and regulation of stormwater management is especially important in Chester Township since the the main source of drinking water in the Township is from individual wells drawing from the underlying aquifer. The aquifer is fed by the watershed and maintaining its health is paramount to the quality of the drinking water in Chester Township.
What’s a watershed?
A watershed is the area of land that drains into a body of water such as a river, lake, stream or bay. It is separated from other watersheds by high points in the area such as hills or slopes. It includes not only the waterway itself but also the entire land area that drains to it. For example, the watershed of a lake would include not only the streams entering that lake but also the land area that drains into those streams and eventually the lake. Drainage basins generally refer to large watersheds that encompass the watersheds of many smaller rivers and streams.
Why has stormwater runoff become such a problem?
Urbanization and increasing commercial and residential development have a great impact on local water resources. Impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops, and parking lots do not allow stormwater to soak into the ground. Less water soaking into the ground lowers ground water levels, which can dry up streams, harm stream ecosystems, and reduce the supply of well water.
Increased stormwater runoff means a greater volume of water carrying pollution into surface waters. Contaminants carried by stormwater include: litter, cigarette butts and other debris from roads and sidewalks, motor oil, settled air pollutants, pet waste, yard waste, and pesticides and fertilizers from lawn care. Keeping debris out of storm drains, picking up pet waste, recycling motor oil, and reducing pesticide use, will help keep our streams and groundwater clean.
Where does stormwater go?
Stormwater flows through a storm drain, and travels through underground pipes to our rivers, lakes, and streams. Storm drains are located in parking lots and along the curbs of roadways. The grate that prevents larger objects from flowing into the storm sewer system is called a catch basin.
Help keep Chester Township’s storm drains clear
Reduce, reuse and recycle materials whenever possible to create less waste. Waste on our streets ends up in storm drains and contributes to stormwater pollution.
- Pick up litter on your property, especially after trash and recycling days, and put it in the trash.
- Always use a public trash can for trash in public areas.
- NEVER throw litter and debris directly into storm drains. Such debris washes into waterways and onto streambanks, causing harm to plant and animal life.
- Make sure to properly dispose of leftover household chemicals, paints and automotive fluids. These leftover chemicals should never be thrown away.
- Clogged storm drains can cause street flooding and traffic congestion. Debris on our streets washes directly into our local streams.
Click here to find a nearby household hazardous waste collection center.
Raingardens can reduce stormwater runoff
Raingardens are one way to help reduce the amount of runoff coursing into our local streams. A raingarden is a specialized garden that contains plants which are exceptional at absorbing rainwater, like sedges, rushes, ferns, and certain shrubs. There are specific guidelines for preparing the soil, including grading the land so that rainwater flows towards the plants. Raingardens are easy to build, and you can choose plants that benefit native insects and butterflies. You are welcome to take a close look at two raingardens constructed here in Chester: one behind the Chester Library, and the other at the side of the Highlands Building at 100 North Road.
For more information on raingardens, click here.
If you propose the addition of 400 sq. ft. or greater of roofed area on your property the Chester Township Code stormwater management control in compliance with the NJDEP Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual and/or the New Jersey Residential Site Improvement Standards. In accordance with the code a Licensed Engineer or Architect must provide a stormwater management system design, which includes evaluation of your soils and certification that the proposed system will result in a zero increase in stormwater run-off.
Stormwater management helps:
- prevent increased run-off onto neighboring properties
- control erosion
- groundwater recharge to replenish aquifer and general water supply
The ordinance requires stormwater run-off to be controlled using a sub-surface dry well conforming to engineering standards. The system is usually determined by existing site conditions such as soil types, surface grades, and the allowable space.
What is a dry well?
A dry well is a subsurface storage facility that receives and temporarily stores stormwater runoff from the impervious surfaces. Discharge of this stored runoff from a dry well occurs through infiltration into the surrounding soils. A dry well may be either a structural chamber and/or an excavated pit filled with aggregate.
Links to stormwater-related ordinances: