Skip to main content

Stormwater Management

CStorm Drains to Creeks lean water is important to everyone, so it's everyone's responsibility. 
Today, the #1 source of water pollution is not industry but the cumulative impact of individual actions by residents and business operators, known as "non-point source pollution."

Stormwater runoff, which is the water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground, picks up whatever chemicals, trash or other materials is on yards, sidewalks, driveways, roads, etc., and carries it all into nearby creeks and down roadside storm drains that empty directly into creeks, harming water quality, plants and wildlife.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)

The federally mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System was designed to monitor and improve water quality in waterways across the nation. Under the program, Cheltenham Township developed an extensive storm water management program that incorporates six required components:

1.     Public Education and Outreach

2.     Public involvement and Participation

3.     Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

4.     Construction Stormwater Runoff Management

5.     Post Construction Stormwater Management

6.     Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping

The Township must submit annual reports detailing the program's progress to the Department of Environmental Protection, which will oversee the effort in every state. More information on this program is available from the Pennsylvania DEP website.

EPA Fact Sheets:


Pennsylvania Act 167 Stormwater Management Plan

Between 2004 and 2009, Cheltenham Township, in partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), completed a multi-phase watershed-wide study along the Tookany Creek. The study entailed the collection of survey data at over 100 sites. PWD crews installed metal rebar, set up survey equipment to take cross-section measurements and use global positioning system equipment to spatially identify the locations of these sites. 

The study was used to measure the flow patterns in the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed, which in turn will aid our ongoing efforts to mitigate storm flow damage to the stream. Study information will help the Township design projects aimed at decreasing the erosive effects of storm water, reducing the quantity of water that flows into the streams, and stabilizing and restoring the stream banks so they can withstand storm flows. The Township's approach emphasized hydraulic sustainability, better manage on-site storm water, enhance riparian and biological habitats, and improve aesthetics. In addition, the data will be used for a storm water management study of the entire Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed.

The study was used to create a new watershed-wide stormwater management ordinance adopted by the Township in May 2010.  [Municipal Code Chapter 290 Stormwater Watershed Management]

Residential Pollution Solution

By practicing clean-water habits, residents can help keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of stormwater. Here are 10 tips to adopt and share with neighbors:

1.  Disconnect sump pumps & other clean water sources that empty into the sanitary sewer.
During heavy rains, sump pumps that discharge into the sanitary sewer can overload the system, causing sewer backups into homes and businesses and overflows into the Tookany Creek. Eventually, sump pump excesses could overburden the sanitary system, which would cost millions of dollars to replace. That’s why the Township launched a property inspection program in 2005 to eliminate illegal discharges of clean surface water into the sanitary sewer system.

2. Never dump anything into storm drain inlets.
Storm drain inlets along Township roadways empty directly into the Tookany Creek. Never dump oil, trash, leaves, pet waste or any other material into the inlets.

3. Pick up dog waste.
Did you know the average dog produces a half a pound of waste per day? If that waste is left on the ground, stormwater runoff will carry it into our waterways, contributing to harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses. The Township’s Pooper Scooper Law requires pet owners or caretakers to properly dispose of pet waste in the trash or toilet.Practice environmentally friendly lawn and garden care.Learn more about managing pet waste.

4. Use only organic fertilizers, sparingly, and avoid pesticides to prevent toxic runoff.
Consider planting more native trees, shrubs and ground covers to reduce the need for mowing.

5. Direct downspouts over porous, not paved, surfaces.
Or use a rain barrel or install a rain garden to capture stormwater on-site. Consider porous material when adding or replacing a patio or driveway on your property.

6.   Practice environmentally friendly automotive care.
Check your vehicles for leaks and fix any immediately. Use a professional car wash or wash your car on your lawn instead of your driveway so the water seeps into the ground instead of creating runoff.

7.  If you have a septic system, have it pumped and inspected regularly.

8.  Don’t dump anything into streams or pile items near waterways.
In addition to trash, even garden debris like leaves, branches and grass clippings are hazardous to our waterways because excess amounts are harmful to aquatic life. Keep lawn furniture and gardening tools away from waterways since heavy rains may sweep them in.

9. Protect riparian buffers.
Don’t mow to the edge of streambanks. Allow native vegetation to grow freely in a 10-foot strip along the bank to reduce erosion and to help filter out pollutants.

10. Participate in community cleanups, like the Earth Day activities held each April!

Links/Brochures for Residents:

Ways to Help Limit Stormwater Runoff Volume


A rain garden is a planted shallow depression designed to catch and filter rainfall runoff.  The garden captures rain from a downspout or a driveway.  The water sinks into the ground, aided by deep rooted plants that like wet and dry conditions.  A residential rain garden should dry out between rains and should only hold water for approximately 24 -72 hours.  This timeframe prevents standing water that could create mosquito habitat.  For more information on how to create your own rain garden, visit


Rain barrels are installed at the bottom of your down-spouts and catch the rain water that comes off the roof.  You can then reuse that water to water your garden or yard.  Don't forget to empty the barrels should between rain events to maximize their effectiveness. 


Planting trees, shrubs and/or plants that have a deep root structure help stormwater infiltrate into the ground more effectively than grass.  They also catch rain water on their leaves and branches. which helps to reduce the amount of run-off during a storm. Native plants are hardy because they have adapted to the local conditions. Once established, native plants do not need pesticides, fertilizers, or watering. Not only is this good for the environment, it saves time and money. For a list of plants and shrubs native to Southeastern Pennsylvania, download the Southeastern Pennsylvania Native Plants List.

Business Solutions to Stormwater Pollution

Businesses also need to be aware that things they do or products they use in their daily operations can enter the stormwater system and affect our water sources. Runoff from construction sites, spills at fueling areas and chemicals used to keep outdoor areas clean can be picked up by rainwater and whisked into the storm sewer system.

Vehicle wastes are among the many common stormwater pollutants that can degrade water quality. Stormwater runoff from vehicle maintenance and repair wastes has been found to contain high concentrations of metals, organics, oil and grease. When these wastes wash into our waters they can kill aquatic organisms. Metals such as chromium, cadmium, lead, and zinc have the potential to contaminate drinking water supplies as well as bio accumulate in aquatic life. Organics such as engine degreasers, cleaners, and other solvents can also degrade water quality.


Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG)

  • Use a FOG recycling/rendering service that provides watertight outdoor receptacles of adequate size.
  • Clean-up FOG spills as
  • soon as they occur. Develop a "spill plan."
  • Use dry clean-up practices to scrape, wipe or sweep FOG from utensils, equipment and floors prior to using wet clean-up methods.
  • Don't hose FOG waste down storm drains.
  • Improper disposal of FOG may lead to by-products in wastewater treatment plants and stormwater systems.
  • Schedule FOG pick-ups related to volume of FOG generation.
  • Maintain pavements and exterior grease traps.


Storage Container Safety
  • Outdoor storage containers should be water tight, rodent proof & protected from tampering.
  • If materials aren't stored properly, pollutants can leak from stockpiles and containers and run out onto the ground.
  • Reduce risk to environment by reducing the amount of materials and wastes kept in storage.
  • If materials must be stored outside, construct a covered, paved area designed to contain leaks and spills.
  • Regularly clean up around dumpsters.
  • If a dumpster leaks, immediately repair or replace it.

Preventing & Cleaning Up Spills

  • Don't allow open containers or tanks that are being filled to be left unattended.
  • Use a funnel when transferring liquids from one container to another.
  • Place trays under open containers and the spouts of liquid storage containers.
  • Buy products in smaller quantities whenever it’s cost effective.
  • Design work areas to contain spills.
  • Absorbent materials used to clean up hazardous substances must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
    Business Links/Brochures:

Construction Industry Information

The construction industry has a key role to play in stormwater management. As stormwater flows over a construction site, it can pick up pollutants such as sediment, debris, and chemicals. Uncontrolled erosion has a significant financial impact on a construction project. It costs time and money to repair gullies, replace vegetation, clean sediment clogged storm drains, and mitigate damage to other people's property.

Installing and maintaining pollution prevention techniques on site can reduce the potential for stormwater pollution and help protect our nation's water supply.

  • Minimizing the amount of exposed soil, because the less soil that is exposed the easier and cheaper it will be to control erosion. Sequence construction activities so that the soil is not exposed for long periods. Schedule site stabilization activities such as landscaping to be completed as quickly as possible after the land has been graded to the final contour.
  • Identify and protect areas where existing vegetation such as trees will not be disturbed by construction activity.
  • Protect streams, wild woodlands, wetlands, and other sensitive areas from any disturbance or construction activity by fencing or otherwise clearly marking those areas.
  • Silt Fencing: Inspect and maintain silt fences after each rainstorm. Make sure that the bottom of the silt fence is buried in the ground. Securely attach the material to the stakes.
  • Construction Entrances:  Make sure the construction entrance doesn't become buried in soil. Regular street sweeping at construction entrance will prevent dirt from entering storm drains.
Construction Links/Brochures:
Report Suspected Polluting
Call 215-887-6200, ext. 330, weekdays between 7:30AM  and 4PM or call 9-1-1 on weekends, nights and holidays.
Kid's Corner
Rainfall Off Your Roof

Fact: 1" of rainfall on a 1000 sq. ft. roof will produce 600 gallons of rainwater.

To calculate the square footage of your house, you can measure the outside area of the exterior walls. To find area, multiply Length times Width. Using an example of a house that is 50' in length by 35' in width, we would multiply 50' x 35' to equal 1750 sq. ft. Move the decimal point over 3 places to the left to continue the equation.

Since 1" of rain yields 600 gallons on a 1000 sq. ft. roof, we will multiply 600 x 1.75 to determine the quantity of run-off from our example roof. 600 x 1.75 = 1050 gallons.

How much rainwater can be collected from your roof?

Cheltenham Township   ~   8230 Old York Road   ~   Elkins Park, PA 19027
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8AM-4:30PM
Phone: 215-887-1000   ~   Fax: 215-887-1561
Site Map   |   Contact Us   |   Disclaimer   |   Powered by MunicipalCMS
Sign up for enews Facebook Get our RSS feeds