Clean Water Action Issues Evaluation of Municipal Ordinances in Codorus Creek Watershed

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Clean Water Action Issues Evaluation of Municipal Ordinances in Codorus Creek Watershed with Eye towards Water Quality and Low Impact Development



York, PA –  Clean Water Action’s “Greener Communities” report,  released in today, evaluates green stormwater management by 9 municipalities in York County’s Codorus Creek watershed. The report’s focus is “low impact development” (LID), an approach that uses less pavement and more natural systems and green spaces to reduce environmental impacts. Clean Water Action has hundreds of members in York County.

Using a tool developed by the Center for Watershed Protection, the report rated each municipality on how well their land use rules align with LID best practices.

The township of Springettsbury had the highest rating of the 9 municipalities studied with a score of 61%.  The City of York had a score of 38%.  Sooy congratulated Springettsbury Township on making significant progress, as measured in their municipal ordinances, in meeting goals for low impact development. “While it is difficult to meet each and every standard of low impact development, Springettsbury Township shows that significant steps can be taken that can make a difference.”, indicated Sooy.

“While these nine communities ranged from meeting 61 to 25% of low impact development goals, Clean Water Action is actually quite impressed with the progress townships and the county as a whole are making.  The York County Planning Department has been leading a discussion among township and municipal leaders that is moving significantly in the direction of low impact development goals.”, said Sooy.

Communities that have adopted LID techniques have realized multiple benefits, not just water quality improvements. One National Home Builders Association study in Maryland found that developers could realize significant savings — almost $1 million per development — by using LID approaches.

“It is not just Clean Water Action that wants these municipalities to incorporate LID into their local ordinances.”, said Nathan Sooy, Central PA Campaign Coordinator. “The Pennsylvania

Department of Environmental Protection is requiring municipalities, as part of the new stormwater permit process, to demonstrate movement towards low impact development. These improvements will have a large impact on the future health of the waterways in York County and the Susquehanna watershed as a whole.”

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

As noted in the table in the report, no community scored above 80, which is the threshold for the “Good” category set by the Center for Watershed Protection.

  • All 9 townships fell into CWP’s “Inadequate” category.  
  • The highest score was 61; the lowest was 25.
  • The average for all communities surveyed was 37.

The charts that follow show the areas in which specific towns can change their local code so that development and redevelopment will have less impact on the water we all share.



Areas in which most communities scored well include:

  • Open Space Design
  • Parking Lot Runoff
  • Rooftop Runoff

Areas in which most or all communities fell short include:

  • Structured Parking
  • Cul-de-sacs
  • Street Length
  • Driveways

Among our general recommendations are the following:



We encourage communities to:

  • Involve the full elected board of the municipality in making plans for updating the General or Individual Permit,
  • Open the process to the community to seek ideas about low-impact development,
  • Compare the costs and benefits of meeting federal EPA obligations through direct construction of Best Management Practices or by changing land development policies
  • Consult environmental organizations about ideas for updating the permit in ways that could serve economic development purposes as well as meeting long term environmental goals.

The most immediate steps for action that municipalities should take are to examine ways to reduce the amount of new pavement that is put down in new or redevelopment projects.



Specific recommendations for action include:

  • Redrafting ordinances for parking lots to reduce the number of required  parking spaces and the size of those spaces
  • Redrafting ordinances for driveways to reduce width and allow for alternatives to pavement in construction
  • Redrafting ordinances to reduce paved cartway width requirements in residential neighborhoods

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