Lehigh Valley Planning Commission
Sewer + Water
The Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act of 1966 (as amended), more commonly known as “Act 537,” is the primary law controlling individual and community sewage disposal systems. Act 537 requires municipalities to submit official sewage facilities plans to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for approval. These plans show the current and future needs of the municipality and assess wastewater facility choices to meet these needs. Under Act 537, municipalities are responsible for assuring that safe and reliable sewage disposal is provided within municipal boundaries. Act 537 plans are reviewed by appropriate planning agencies, including a county planning agency such as the LVPC, to determine consistency with land use goals and policies. The location of public sewer facilities is a key factor in the management of growth.
Preservation of water resources is a major priority of the regional water supply plan. The ability to provide a safe, reliable water supply could be adversely impacted without careful county and local planning. Coordination of community water system development with comprehensive land use planning is essential for assuring long-term, reliable water supplies. The availability of community water systems has an influence on the location of urban development within the two counties. Water supply sources and land use also need to be matched to prevent pollution of supplies. Changes to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) in 2000 require municipal and county comprehensive plans to contain a plan for the reliable supply of water. The LVPC plan contains policies and implementation strategies to address the MPC amendment. The county comprehensive plan, through its policies, promotes the provision of adequate supplies of water of good quality to meet the existing and future needs of the Lehigh Valley.
Green Infrastructure Guidelines
The Green Infrastructure Guidelines document was prepared in conjunction with the Monocacy Creek Watershed Act 167 Stormwater Management Plan Update, 2017. The Guidelines are important for reinforcing the message of the outstanding natural resources present in the Lehigh Valley and their wide variety of essential services and benefits to local residents and visitors, describing the best practices available for community and site design to preserve or enhance those resources, and defining improved stormwater management design practices to better mimic natural systems. The Gudielines provide 1) an overview of green infrastructure at a regional scale and the associated benefits and 2) engineering guidance for site-specific stormwater management practices to help designers understand and comply with the water balance and green infrastructure provisions of the updated Act 167 Ordinance.
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Historically within Pennsylvania, stormwater management design criteria were crafted by individual municipalities without
consideration of watershed wide impacts. Adequate planning cannot be done on a parcel-by-parcel, municipality-by-municipality basis. Additionally, stormwater law was a patchwork of court decisions based partially on the civil law doctrine protecting downstream landowners and partially on the common enemy doctrine protecting the rights of upstream landowners. Lack of clear legal guidance and sufficient hydrologic information historically hampered the ability of municipalities to make sound stormwater management decisions. In 1978, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Stormwater Management Act, Act 167 of 1978, which clarified both the technical and legal elements of stormwater management decisions.
Act 167 requires counties to prepare stormwater management plans on a watershed-by-watershed basis. The plans must be developed in consultation with the affected municipalities. Standards for control of runoff from new development are a required component of each plan and are based on a detailed hydrologic assessment. A key objective of each plan is to coordinate the stormwater management decisions of the watershed municipalities. Implementation of each plan is through mandatory municipal adoption of ordinance provisions consistent with the plan. Within Lehigh and Northampton counties, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission prepares plans on behalf of both counties. The state has designated 16 Act 167 study areas within the region. This map (PDF) displays the status of Act 167 planning in the Lehigh Valley. Until 2004 stormwater planning dealt solely with runoff quantity and not with runoff quality.
To comply with requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, most municipalities in Lehigh and Northampton counties must adopt and implement an ordinance that requires the use of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce or prevent the discharge of pollutants into receiving waters. The LVPC prepared an update to the Little Lehigh Creek Watershed Act 167 Plan to address water quality issues. The municipalities in the watershed adopted the model ordinance in 2004. An updated ordinance for the eleven (11) other watersheds with adopted Act 167 Plans was completed in 2006 to also incorporate water quality provisions. Act 167 Plans for the Perkiomen Creek, Sacony Creek and Maiden Creek headwater areas were completed most recently.
Act 167 Plans
This plan has been prepared by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission on behalf of Northampton County and Lehigh County. The Plan contains revisions based upon the review comments received from the Monocacy Creek Watershed Advisory Committee.
The preparation of this report was funded by the City of Bethlehem through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
This is the text prepared by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff on behalf of Lehigh
and Northampton counties. It contains revisions, as necessary, based on comments received
from the Watershed Plan Advisory Committee, the Municipal Engineers Committee, the Legal
Advisory Committee, the affected municipalities, the LVPC, the general public, Lehigh County,
Northampton County and the Department of Environmental Protection. Adopted by Lehigh County June 14, 2006. Adopted by Northampton County June 15, 2006. Adopted by DEP October 4, 2006.
Global Water Quality Plan Global Water Quality Plan Cover, Final - April 2006 Global Water Quality Plan, Final - April 2006 Global Water Quality Ordinance, Final - April 2006 Map 1 - Carbonate Geology in Lehigh and Northampton Counties Map 2 - Release Rates - Bushkill Creek Watershed Map 3 - Release Rates - Catasauqua Creek, Monocacy Creek and Nancy Run Act 167 Study Areas Map 4 - Release Rates - Coplay Creek, Jordon Creek and Trout/Bertsch Creeks Act 167 Study Areas. Map 5 - Release Rates - Fry's Run Act 167 Study Area Map 6 - Release Rates - Hokendauqua Creek Act 167 Study Area Map 7 - Release Rates - Martins/Jacoby Creeks Act 167 Study Area Map 8 - Release Rates - Saucon Creek Watershed Note: For maximum legibility, it is recommended that you print the following maps (2-8) on 11" x 17" paper
This is the text prepared by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff on behalf of Lehigh County. It contains revisions, as necessary, based on comments received from the Watershed Plan Advisory Committee and the affected municipalities, as well as preliminary comments from the Department of Environmental Protection.
This is the text prepared by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff on behalf of Lehigh County. It contains revisions, as necessary, based on comments received from the Maiden Creek Watershed Plan Advisory Committee, the affected municipalities, the LVPC, general public, Lehigh County and the Department of Environmental Protection.
This is the text prepared by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff on behalf of Lehigh County. It contains revisions, as necessary, based on comments received from the Sacony Creek Watershed Plan Advisory Committee, the affected municipalities, the LVPC, general republic, Lehigh County and the Department of Environmental Protection.
2005 Little Lehigh Creek Plan Update
This is the text prepared by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission staff on behalf of Lehigh County and Berks County. It contains revisions, as necessary, based on comments received from the Little Lehigh Creek Watershed Advisory Committee, the Little Lehigh Creek Municipal Engineers Committee, the Little Lehigh Creek Legal Advisory Committee, the affected municipalities, the LVPC, general public, Lehigh County and the Department of Environmental Protection.
2005 Little Lehigh Creek Plan Update Report CoverPlan, January 2005Ordinance, January 2005Plate I - Little Lehigh Creek Watershed Release Rate Map
The following Act 167 plans are the previous versions of the plans developed by the LVPC on behalf of Lehigh and Northampton counties for the 12 watersheds that have received ordinance updates related to water quality since 2004. These plans include the complete documentation of the watershed as required by Act 167 that was not reproduced in the water quality updates, including: discussions of watershed hydrology, existing and future (i.e. based on zoning) land use, documentation of significant flow obstructions and storm drainage problem areas, etc. The LVPC advisory review of stormwater management designs for proposed land developments in these watersheds is based on the criteria documented in these plans and ordinances.
Older 167 Plans Bushkill Creek Watershed (May 1992)Catasauqua Creek Watershed and Lehigh River Sub-basin 4 (February 1997)Coplay Creek Watershed and Lehigh River Sub-basin 2 (November 1994)Delaware River Sub-basin 2 and Lehigh River Sub-basin 5 (Fry’s Run Study Area) (February 1999)Hokendauqua Creek Watershed and Lehigh River Sub-basin 3 (September 1997)Jordan Creek Watershed (May 1992)Little Lehigh Creek Watershed (June 1999)Martins/Jacoby Creeks Watershed and Delaware River Sub-basin 1 (February 1996)Monocacy Creek Watershed (March 1989)Nancy Run Watershed (March 1989)Saucon Creek Watershed (April 1991)Trout/Bertsch Creeks Watershed and Lehigh River Sub-basin 1 (April 1995)
As part of partnerships with other agencies such as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Lehigh County and Northampton County Conservation Districts, and the Wildlands Conservancy, the LVPC has created several reports assessing several watersheds in the region.
The Monocacy Creek and Jordan Creek Water Quality Assessments analyzed the correlations between water quality data collected by the Wildlands Conservancy and existing land use for the watershed. The purpose of the correlation analysis was to identify whether any clear relationship exists between the monitored water quality in the creek and the land use patterns in the watershed. The impact of watershed geology on water quality was also evaluated.
The Monocacy Creek Watershed Preliminary Hydrologic Budget and the Jordan Creek Watershed Hydrologic Trends Assessment analyze historical United States Geological Survey (USGS) flow data to establish trends in how precipitation interacts with the watershed. From the USGS data and historical rainfall data, the amount of annual rainfall that is infiltrated to groundwater, runs off the land surface, or is evaporated/transpirated was determined and long-term trends were analyzed.
The Monocacy Creek Erosion Restoration Plan was a collaborative effort with the Lehigh County and Northampton County Conservation Districts as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The plan’s goals were to document the existing erosion problems throughout the Monocacy Creek Watershed, to create a GIS-based predictive model to assess future erosion potential from land development activities, to develop a method to assign financial responsibility for needed BMP installation on affected properties, to prioritize the identified problems for BMP installation and to design and install BMPs on the highest priority sites.
Saucon Creek TMDL Alternatives Report
The Saucon Creek TMDL Alternatives Reports were created to provide DEP with several possible approaches to developing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Saucon Creek. TMDLs are numerical levels of certain pollutants that can be discharged to a water body and have it meet it’s designated uses (recreation, aquatic life, potable water source, etc). The Clean Water Act requires DEP to periodically assess whether or not the Waters of the Commonwealth are meeting the designated uses. If they are determined to be “impaired” (i.e. not meeting the designated uses), DEP must prepare a TMDL that municipalities can implement to restore the watershed to an “attaining” status. Several sections of the Saucon Creek Watershed have been determined to be impaired by sediment, so the LVPC looked at possible sediment modeling approaches for DEP’s use in developing the final TMDL.