Understanding Stream Designations

Understanding Stream Designations

If you look at a Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plan or Erosion Control Plan prepared by our office, you will notice a “Receiving Surface Waters” note on the plan. This note may say “Unnamed Tributary (UNT) to East Branch Big Elk Creek in the Big Elk Creek Watershed: A High Quality-Trout Stocking (HQ-TSF) Water Course.” Someone may read this note and wonder why this watercourse is classified as “High Quality-Trout Stocking”. First off, all Waters of the Commonwealth are protected for multiple uses that include water supply, recreation, and fish consumption, and aquatic life. The marine life designations include CWF (Cold Water Fishes), WWF (Warm Water Fishes), MF (Migratory Fishes) or TSF (Trout Stocking Fishes).

These designations are defined as follows:
• WWF and CWF – The watercourse is designated for maintenance and/or breeding of a fish species that is indigenous to either a cold or warm water habitat.
• MF – The watercourse is designated as passage, maintenance and breeding of a fish species which move through flowing waters to complete their life cycle.
• TSF – The watercourse is designated as maintenance of stocked trout and maintenance and breeding of fish that are indigenous to a warm water habitat.

In addition to the above designations, waters will be designated as “Special Protection” if additional protection against degradation is required. These designations include High-Quality Waters (HQ) and Exceptional Value Waters (EV). There are conditions that must be satisfied for a stream to be classified as “Special Protection”.

For a stream to be designated as HQ, the stream’s chemistry must meet the proper standards. Many parameters, that include pH, iron, temperature, etc., must be tested to ensure that the levels necessary to support the breeding of fish are met, for at least 99% of the time for a minimum of one year. Biology is also a condition considered for designating a stream as HQ.
For a stream to be designated as EV, one of the qualifiers for HQ must be met along with another condition from a completely separate list. This condition would pertain to being located in a National wildlife refuge, State game propagation or designated State Park, along with other conditions. A full list of the EV and HQ conditions can be found in Chapter 93.4b of the PA Code.

One thing that we don’t typically add to our plans is whether a stream is impaired. This would mean that the stream does not meet the water quality standards associated with their designated and existing uses. If a stream is designated with an impairment, PADEP will specify the source and cause for it being impaired. Some sources/causes include agriculture/nutrients and urban runoff-storm sewers/siltation. For additional information on stream impairments, please refer to the 2016 PA Integrated WQ Monitoring and Assessment Report.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain, Rain, Go Away

2018 was a very wet and rainy year for Chester County. In fact, the county received 69.1 inches of rain in total. This is 22 inches above the average for the county and 30 inches above the national average. Chester County is not the only area though that had a record year in terms of the amount of rainfall. Reading, Baltimore, and Atlantic City have all set records for the amount of rain they received last year.

All that rain can cause havoc for a property owner. Standing water in the yard, flooded basements, and soil erosion are just a few of the effects that can be caused by vast amounts of rainfall.  Standing water in your yard can create a breeding ground for mosquitos, drown plants and grass, and create slick or dangerous yard conditions. Flooded basements can be a result of downspouts being clogged or not piping the water far enough away from the house. Excessive concentrated runoff can cause soil erosion. If soil erosion happens to your property, it is better to correct the issue quickly rather than waiting. Waiting could result in even more damage and cost more to repair the problem. One way to fix these issues is to fill in any gulleys or affected areas of your property with soil and reseed the area. Another fix is to put in a swale or a seepage bed. A swale can be used to direct water away from the area that has been eroded. This can give time for the affected area to grow grass and stabilize. A seepage pit can be put in the area of standing water or in an area that receives a lot of water. Water can be captured by overland flow by a yard drain and then piped into the pit below ground.

Here at D.L. Howell, we are trained to take these issues and turn them into a positive result.  Please contact us with all your erosion problems and we will be glad to help!

PA DEP RELEASES GUIDANCE FOR MANAGED RELEASE CONCEPT

PA DEP RELEASES GUIDANCE FOR MANAGED RELEASE CONCEPT

When designing stormwater for a project, we must consider stormwater runoff for both rate and volume.  Peak rate is the easier of the two to control as we can manage the rate in a stormwater basin, berm, rain garden, bed, etc.  The peak rate management does not have to rely on the on-site soil conditions as the volume control does.  Typically, the runoff volume is managed by infiltrating the change in two-year runoff volume when comparing the pre-development to post-development. 

The problem with infiltration is that not all soils and site conditions allow for infiltration.  There can be many factors or limiting zones that prevent infiltration on site, one of the most common limiting zones we encounter is shallow bedrock.  Other limiting zones might be high water table, mottling, or clayey soils that do not infiltrate. 

Last month, Pennsylvania DEP released a white paper on a ‘Managed Release Concept’ (MRC).  The MRC is a post-construction stormwater method that manages the increase in stormwater runoff volume through storage and filtration of stormwater runoff.  In the white paper, DEP provides guidance for when an MRC is applicable and also the methods for implementing an MRC into the site design.  Using an MRC does not exclude the site from all infiltration.  If there are some areas within the site to provide infiltration, infiltration must be maximized in those areas.  The designer is required to provide an adequate site assessment of soils and geology to demonstrate that infiltration of the entire change in two-year runoff volume is not feasible.  If the conditions are met, then the designer can request from the Conservation District and/or DEP for authorization to proceed with the MRC design.

Sources:  

PA DEP Managed Release Concept white paper – December 13, 2018 
http://files.dep.state.pa.us/Water/BPNPSM/StormwaterManagement/ConstructionStormwater/Managed_Release_Concept.pdf

Pemberton (AKA Hawks Glen) Breaks Ground on Phase II

Pemberton (AKA Hawks Glen) Breaks Ground on Phase II


Bentley Homes’ Pemberton Townhouse Development breaks ground on Phase II.  With the southern half of the New Garden Township site built out, Bentley is pushing forward with construction North of the existing stream segment bisecting the property.  DL Howell continues to stay involved by assisting the well known Chester County based custom home builder with post construction field changes to further enhance the site aesthetics.  At present, those field changes include the design of an extensive landscape berm to be installed along the northern property line creating a private, secluded enclave for residents making their home on the northern portion of the development site.  DLH is working closely with the project Landscape Architect and Chester County Conservation District on re-review of the proposed plan changes which are minor but will contribute greatly to the livability of the community. 

Minor changes to approved Land Development plans is a common occurrence in our industry and when required, need to happen very quickly to keep the overall buildout program moving.  Engineers, Designers, Landscape Architects and site contractors need to be quick on their feet if they want to stay in the game and keep their Clients smiling.  Communication is the key and although the younger generation may opt to correspond via email, often times picking up the phone and speaking to a regulator “live” is the quickest way from A to B. 

Frazer Lanes Redevelopment Receives Conditional Use Approval

Frazer Lanes Redevelopment Receives Conditional Use Approval

After months of working through East Whiteland Township, Frazer Lanes finally received Conditional Use Approval. The Frazer Lanes project began to take shape back in March of 2016 when GMH Partners began preparing sketches for a 5-story apartment building with an attached parking garage on the properties currently occupied by the Norcini Trailer Park and Frazer Lanes Bowling Alley. GMH was working with land planner Bob Heuser to develop a conceptual layout when they approached D.L. Howell to provide civil engineering including conceptual storm water management design. At the same time GMH was also working with East Whiteland Township to develop a Multifamily Route 30 Overlay District within the Frontage Commercial District that would allow for this type of development. GMH continued to negotiate with other adjoining property owners and was able to acquire a total of 4 parcels totaling 5.105 acres. The result of all this planning became development for a 4-story apartment complex with 227 units, 4-story parking garage with 257 parking spaces and 73 exterior surface parking spaces.

D.L. Howell worked closely with the project team including; Riley Riper Hollin and Colagreco Attorneys, Lessard Design Group Architects, Orsatti & Stuart Landscape Architects, and Traffic Planning & Design Traffic Engineers to refine the site layout and renderings after review and approval from East Whiteland Township Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Some of the challenges with the project were incorporating the Route 30 Corridor improvements into the design that included; widening along the property frontage, adding site amenities, bike lane and drainage improvements. The project required extensive geotechnical subsurface exploration and testing due to the presence of sinkholes within Karst soil. This soil condition resulted in a network of underground storm-water management piping systems contained within impervious liners.

Upon receiving Conditional Use approval, Final Land Development Plans have been prepared and submitted to the Township for review. Those plans include detailed grading, utilities, erosion control, storm water management, site lighting, landscaping and PADOT Highway Occupancy drawings. The project also requires an Individual NPDES Permit since it is in an Exceptional Value Watershed. We anticipate all approvals to be secured in the mid-summer and construction will commence before the fall.

Dog Days at D.L. Howell

Dog Days at D.L. Howell

Recently, D.L. Howell has adopted a new policy of allowing employees to bring their four-legged friends (Dogs, no cats) to work with them one day a week.  Since starting this, D.L. Howell has seen a 250% increase in productivity and a 50% decrease in stress related overeating.  OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little here, but c’mon everyone loves dogs! 

Denny may have been reluctant at first, but then we hit him with some compelling arguments, such as:

  1. Dogs help improve morale
  2. Dogs are stress reducers
  3. Dogs help get people moving
  4. Dogs increase communication between employees
  5. Happier employees = happier work environment

There are endless amounts of studies and reports to analyze when it comes to interacting with dogs in the workplace.  Bringing your dog to the office may seem like a lot of work, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.  Just look at these smiling faces: