General NPDES Renewal Changes – What You Need to Know

General NPDES Renewal Changes – What You Need to Know

Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection made a change to the renewal coverage associated with General NPDES Permits. Previously, when an applicant would submit the required information for a General NPDES Permit renewal, DEP or the local Conservation District would reply with an updated coverage window that extended five years from the previous expiration date. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has made the decision to standardize the General NPDES Permit expiration dates to five (5) years after the latest General NPDES Permit was approved, which was on December 8, 2019. This means that ALL General NPDES Permits will expire on December 7, 2024, regardless of when the renewal information was/is submitted. Here are two examples of how the new expiration date could affect you:

Example 1
An active General NPDES Permit is set to expire on August 1, 2022. The applicable renewal paperwork has been submitted to the local County Conservation District. A renewal approval is issued, with the new expiration date of December 7, 2024. This results in a renewal window of 2 years and 129 days.

Example 2
An active General NPDES Permit is set to expire on August 1, 2024. The applicable renewal paperwork has been submitted to the local County Conservation District. A renewal approval is issued, with the new expiration date of December 7, 2024. This results in a renewal window of only 129 days.

At this time, it is uncertain when the Pennsylvania DEP will amend the General NPDES renewal coverage period. It has been rumored that a streamlined renewal process is in the works. One thing that is certain is the tidal wave of renewals that will all be set to expire at the same time. It should be noted that Individual NPDES Permit renewals will continue to have the familiar 5-year window for renewal approvals.

Don’t get caught off guard! If you have any questions regarding your current or expiring NPDES Permit, please reach out to D.L. Howell & Associates, Inc. and we will be more than happy to discuss the renewal process with you.

So You Want to be a Civil Engineer?

So You Want to be a Civil Engineer?

Civil Engineers are possibly the coolest people on the planet. These are the people who design and make construction plans for pieces of infrastructure to serve the needs of clients and communities while preserving the health, safety, and welfare of the public. In layman’s terms, they design what people need so they can build it and improve their lives. Things like housing, places of business, roadways, rail lines, parks, sports fields, schools, etc. Who wouldn’t want to make the world around them better and safer for the public? That was the exact thought I had five years ago when I applied to college.

Now five years later, I have graduated from college, am an EIT (Engineer in Training) and am on my way to becoming a PE (Professional Engineer). So, for those who are thinking about pursuing a similar career, as a recent college graduate, I am going to give you my two cents about my academic experience. This is a bit of a long Newsletter, but I am going to try to sum up five years of college education, so bear with me. Also, as a bit of a disclaimer, not every school is the same and this is just my experience, so take from it what you want.

Anyway, you first need to apply to an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) certified school and be accepted. Most all schools that offer Civil Engineering are certified by ABET, but it’s always good to double check because otherwise, you would be in for a very expensive waste of time. I applied to Drexel University in the Fall of 2016 (when I was a senior in high school), and they accepted me (which still surprises me to this day).

Drexel is a Co-op school meaning that the whole program is five years, but for my middle three years, I alternated between going to school for six months and working for six months. To be completely honest, I learned more in my time on co-op than I did in the classroom. While I am a bit biased, this program is fantastic. It allows students to work in different sectors of the industry, try out small and large firms, or find out that the industry is not for them. I could go on and on, but that is a topic for another newsletter.

Year 1

So, I arrived at Drexel as a freshman in 2017 and was met with several prerequisite classes meant to separate those who want it from those who don’t before we got into the real meat and potatoes. Some of the notable ones are Calculus (1-3), Physics (1-3), Chemistry (1 and 2), Biology, and Computation Lab (computer programing using MATLAB). In addition to these classes (which are pretty tough), I also had some easier and more creative classes. My favorite was Engineering Design Labs 1, 2, and 3. Each of them is different, but one of them involved teams building a bridge out of K’Nex where each piece cost a certain amount of money. The whole class competed for overall strength and cost per pound supported. While it did feel a bit like we were in elementary school playing with K’Nex, we learned a lot about how to think like an engineer and admittedly, it was fun. My team didn’t win anything, but it was cool seeing the big brain-building techniques of some of my classmates.

Year 2

Sophomore year came around and it was time to put on some big boy pants and pass some harder classes. This was the year of Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Thermodynamics, Fundamentals of Materials and Mechanics of Materials. These were some of the toughest classes of my college career and were the deciding factor for many that engineering was not for them. There were some other easier engineering classes and electives mixed in, like Presentation of Experimental Data and Microeconomics. These classes were a breeze compared to the others on my schedule.

Year 3 and 4

For my Pre-Junior and Junior years, the “engineering” students separated and took classes that applied more to their area of study. During this time, the difficult classes were Geology, Soil Mechanics (1 and 2), Statics, Structural Analysis, Structural Design (1 and 2), Construction Materials, Structural Material Behavior, Fluid Flow, Hydraulics, and Hydrology. These classes were not quite as tough as the ones before, but they are not to be underestimated. Additionally, these years had some easy engineering classes and electives mixed in but like Sophomore year these classes were a breeze compared to the others.

Year 5

After trudging through 4 years of school, the gas was let off a bit senior year and the focus was on “Professional Electives .” There was a wide range of classes to choose from, which were geared toward specific industries within Civil Engineering. This year I took classes like Transportation Planning and Capacity, Pavement Design, Geotechnical Engineering for Highways, Heavy Construction Principles and Waste Water Treatment. These were some very interesting classes but still required full-time effort to pass. In addition to these classes the whole year is spent working with a group and a faculty advisor on a Senior Project. My team and I worked on a project titled “The Marsh Creek Hydroelectric Project .” We prepared a set of design plans, three lengthy reports and three presentations. Our work on this project is interesting (to me at least) and worth a newsletter. During this year, I wrote the longest paper of my college career. It was 17 pages and was titled “Redefining the Design Storm: An investigation into the changing rainfall patterns of the American Coastal Mid-Atlantic and the adequacy of current design storms .” This could also become a newsletter because it is important to know where the design storms come from.

Fundamentals of Engineering Exam 

As if the five years of school were not hard enough, there is still one more thing you should pass before you finish college, the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam. This is a 5-hour and 20-minute, 110-question multiple choice exam on EVERYTHING I learned in college. This tested me on topics like mathematics, statistics, ethics, statics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, fluid mechanics, structural analysis/design, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, construction management, and surveying. Passing this requires weeks of studying, hundreds of practice problems, and the endurance to take a test for over 5 hours. I remember submitting my exam with 40 seconds left on the clock.

After you pass this test and graduate from college, you are an EIT. This is where I am right now. Then, after working under another PE for four years and passing your PE exam, you become a Registered Professional Engineer. As a Professional Engineer, you are undoubtedly an expert in your field and you get a fancy stamp that you use to certify plans you worked on. Once I am at that point, I will have dedicated nine years of my life to pursuing a career to engineer a better world. It will be a great moment when it comes, and I am looking forward to the future.

I Had No Idea This Survey Would Take So Long!

I Had No Idea This Survey Would Take So Long!

We often hear comments like this from our clients about boundary surveys:

  • “We did not think this was so much work.”
  • “Our lot is not that big.”
  • “We only wanted this side surveyed.”

Howell Kline works very hard at being efficient, having all our information for the survey prepared before the fieldwork, and gathering adequate knowledge in the field to ensure the survey’s accuracy. Let’s address some of the reasons why there is a disconnect in work required for a boundary survey. 

We look for evidence of boundary surveys previously done on your property. This evidence includes rebar, pipes, concrete monuments, or anything set by a surveyor in the past. This evidence is in the ground and needs to be uncovered and located without instrumentation. We look for these things on your property and your adjoining properties. We need your neighbor’s property corners to make our final determination on where the corners genuinely are.

Smaller lots are wonderful because we do not necessarily need to survey over great distances. These smaller lots have challenges, including fences, shrubs, outbuildings, etc. These things are helpful because they guide us in looking for evidence but also present challenges due to poor sight lines. We need to locate these things to ensure we catch any encroachments (structures or improvements, not you own on your property). 

We often explain to clients that we can not just survey “one side” of your property. In order to properly determine the location of any one particular line, it is still necessary to survey the entire area.

We aim to communicate with you and set realistic expectations. We want to be upfront with our clients, so we ask that you provide us with as much information as possible so that we can estimate the work accurately. We will also communicate with you after work has begun and discuss any issues that may keep us from fulfilling our contract. 

If at any time in the process of us performing your survey you have questions, we are always willing to answer those questions and help you better understand. 

Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Addition Finalized!

Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Addition Finalized!

After months of planning, designing, and building, the addition for the Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School is complete and will be open in the fall! The team at D.L. Howell & Associates had the pleasure of teaming up with KCBA Architects once again to work on another project. This addition adds an additional 7,610 square foot six-classroom to the existing school. This addition allowed the school district to remove a modular classroom building and replace it with a new learning space. In addition to the new classroom building, an additional 26 parking spots have been added adjacent to the existing school. Due to the presence of a floodplain on the property, the stormwater management design was broken into two facilities, a subsurface infiltration bed beneath the new parking and a rain garden at the end of the addition.

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Permits, Permits, Get Your Permits!

Permits, Permits, Get Your Permits!

So, you’re thinking about putting a pool in your backyard or adding an extra room off of your house. Most likely, the Township you’re in will require some type of grading permit. The type of permitting required will depend on what you’re doing, the size, and the amount of disturbance the project will create.

Depending on the size of your project, Townships will require a grading and erosion control permit but may or may not require stormwater management. Each Township will have thresholds for requiring stormwater management depending on the amount of impervious coverage that is being proposed. For example, a Township may allow you to add up to 500 square feet of impervious without having to plan for stormwater management, but anything over the 500 square feet threshold will require full stormwater management design. Other Township’s may require a simplified stormwater management design if the increase of impervious coverage is up to 1,000 square feet, which can save on cost for design and construction. Unfortunately, there are Township’s that will require a stormwater management design no matter what the increase in impervious coverage is.

Now the amount of disturbance necessary for what you want to do will also play into the type of permitting required. Disturbance up to an acre requires you to submit to the Township for their approval, but everything over an acre will require you to submit to the County’s Conservation District for an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit. This will increase the permitting costs and lengthen the approval time. A few Townships also require submission to the County’s Conservation District for erosion control review for disturbances under one acre.

Here at DL Howell, we strive to provide the most cost-effective solutions to obtaining proper permitting for all your project needs. If you have any questions or concerns regarding starting a new project, give us a call and we’d be happy to help!

Brandywine Airport Runway Expansion

Brandywine Airport Runway Expansion

D.L. Howell & Associates will assist the Brandywine Airport in their efforts to widen their main runway. The Brandywine Airport opened in 1940 after West Chester’s original airport, Sky Haven Airport, located a couple of miles away, was forced to close due to a court order. The airport utilized grass runways until the 80’s when, through a change in ownership, various improvements were made and the runways were paved. Additional hanger and runway lengthening projects took place in the 1990s. Brandywine Airport is a privately owned facility engaging in aircraft repair and flight training.

Most recently, plans have been finalized to widen the main runway, which is intended to provide safer take-offs and landings. However, in order to do so adjustments to the existing property boundaries with several adjacent property owners must take place. D.L. Howell & Associates will navigate the Brandywine Airport through a complicated process of lot line adjustment, compliance with area and bulk requirements set forth in the local zoning codes, and recordation of new property boundaries, all while ensuring compliance with FAA regulations.