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Chester County Press

Pollutant-reduction plans are costly for municipalities

06/06/2023 01:35AM ● By Steven Hoffman

Pollutant-reduction plan discussions may not have gotten your attention yet, but municipal budgets usually do. Budgets are built on a foundation of tax dollars and all municipalities will be dealing with, or are already dealing with, the cost of pollutant reduction plans. 

Oxford Borough residents are fortunate because their council members have been working on pollutant-reduction plans for years, when they started an environmental committee.

Due to the efforts of that committee and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, 675 trees have been planted in the borough. Borough Council president Kathryn Cloyd, has been instrumental in many environmental improvements. 

Cloyd  talked about the tree plantings spoke some years ago saying, “This came about with the help of David Ross and members of the Oxford Regional Environmental Advisory Council. Many dedicated people were involved in this beautification of Oxford.”

 The planting of shrubs by volunteers from the Oxford community and the Penn State Master Watershed Steward and Master Gardeners also added 1,000 native perennials at the parking garage. That project grew out of a collaboration between Oxford Borough, the EAC and Penn State Extension. Most of the perennials are in bloom. It is not just beautiful but also an environmental effort that may also go toward pollution reduction.

What do trees and shrubs have to do with pollutant reduction plans? Besides their contribution to reducing air pollution, trees also soak up the rain and help reduce stormwater runoff. Their leaf canopies help reduce erosion caused by falling rain. They also provide surface area where rain water lands and evaporates. Roots take up water and help create conditions in the soil that promote infiltration.

Tree plantings can be one of many ways municipalities deal with stormwater runoff, or part of a stormwater reduction plan.

Kent Morey, an engineer from SSM, briefed council on the current challenges facing them.

Municipalities, like many other entities that meet certain standards, must obtain NPDES permit coverage for discharges of stormwater from their municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s).

A municipal separate storm sewer is any conveyance or system of conveyances, including but not limited to streets, ditches, and pipes that is owned by a municipality or other public body having jurisdiction over disposal of sewage, industrial wastes, stormwater or other wastes; designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater; not a combined sewer (i.e., not intended for both sewage and stormwater); and not part of a publicly owned treatment works (POTW).
Morey, who has prepared the Borough Stormwater Reduction Plan, said, “Even though this requirement started in 2012, DEP has gotten so far behind in process, we are now forcing their hand to approve our permit.”

The Borough is home to four different watersheds, all of which flow into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. After decades of stormwater runoff, all the streams are impaired by pollution, contributing to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.

According to Morey, Oxford Borough is required to reduce sediment by 10 percent in each watershed and only responsible for what is in their system or what drains into the creeks in the borough.

Identified as solutions are tree plantings, rain gardens and bump outs to name a few. The borough is currently working with the Church of Love on N. Fourth Street to implement a bio-detention area which would include the above options.

Morey said, “We have to look at this from a financial standpoint, or to see how we can get the most bang for our buck. This would also include advertising and engineering costs. DEP is relying on the borough to say how they have met requirements.”

The comment period ended in May. For more information, go to the Borough website at

Council also announced that the Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (ACOLA) working group will continue to meet the third Monday of the month at 5:45 p.m. and is welcoming all who want to attend.

Police Chief Sam Iacono recognize National Law Enforcement Week and asked everyone to keep those officers lost in their prayers.

During the second week in June, officers will be qualifying for their firearm certification. Each officer is required to achieve a certain score.

Oxford School Police and borough police will have an 8-hour day of training in June.

Detective Adam Weaver will have a week-long training course on criminal investigations put on by the FBI and ATF.

The police department received 709 calls for service for the month of April.

Borough solicitor Stacey Fuller advised council that she continues to work on the Comcast agreement and is hopeful that will be finished soon.                  

Borough manager Pauline Garcia-Allen informed council that work on the non-residential property ordinance continues. On June 7, there will be a tank inspection on the treated water tank, which will should give council an estimate of the cost of maintenance on the tank.

Junior council person Annabelle Bresler informed council that Oxford Area High School Graduation would take place on June 2.

Council also approved the following actions:

  • Adopting an ordinance #959-2023, amending Chapter 15, Motor Vehicles and Traffic, Part 4, Stopping, Standing and Parking, §15-419, Designate Accessible Parking Spaces, of the Borough of Oxford Code of Ordinances regarding the establishment and designation of areas reserved for parking by handicapped individuals on borough streets.
  • A resolution #1359-2023 to apply for $300,000 in funding from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Program to support stormwater improvements that are part of the Borough’s Pollutant Reduction Program.
  • A letter of support for the Oxford Area Recreational Authority (OARA) grant application to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s Greenway Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP) to support development of an updated Master Plan for the OARA Park.
  • A settlement agreement and mutual release between Starr Road Farms, LLC and the Borough of Oxford.
  • An Amendment to the two-year contract for Pauline Garcia-Allen.    
  • A resolution # 1360-2023 declaring the intent to follow the Municipal Records Manual.
  • A resolution #1361-2023 on Disposition of Records.

Council is continuing to discuss the request from Neighborhood Services Center for designated street parking. Garcia-Allen suggested they take a step back on this since they are working on updating parking ordinances.