Water Quality

Water Quality Photo

The Lehigh County Conservation District, under delegation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, administers the Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program and reviews Post Construction Stormwater Management Plans (PCSM) for NPDES permits. Conservation District staff perform reviews of Erosion and Sediment Control Plans and PCSM plans, conduct earth disturbance inspections, respond to citizen complaints and provide education on soil and water conservation practices for residential and commercial construction projects.

Erosion & Sediment Control (E&S)

A state-delegated program that has the goal of minimizing accelerated erosion and sediment pollution that could result from any earth disturbance activities (examples include clearing and grubbing, site grading, placement of fill, excavation, timber harvesting, roadway maintenance etc.).

Erosion and Sediment Control Best Management Practices (BMPs) must be used whenever there is earth disturbance. A written E&S plan is required to be prepared and be on-site whenever there is earth disturbance that is 5,000 square feet or greater or if the site drains toward an Exceptional Value or High Quality watercourse. An E&S plan review will be performed by the Lehigh County Conservation District (LCCD) when the township or municipality that the site is in has an ordinance or an agreement that requires such a review (for example, when the Subdivision and Land Development ordinance requires the review). Another instance where the plan is required to be sent to LCCD for review is when a Pennsylvania Department of Protection (PADEP) Chapter 105 permit is obtained. For example, if a stream encroachment or wetland encroachment permit needs to be obtained for the project, an E&S plan review is also required. For all earth disturbances 1 acre or greater, an E&S plan must be prepared and reviewed as part of the NPDES Permit submittal. For Fee schedules and the E&S application form, refer to our Conservation District Forms page.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits (NPDES)

The District, in conjunction with PADEP, also administers the NPDES Phase II permits for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities. For all earth disturbances 1 acre or greater in size, a NPDES Phase II permit is required. If the site drains to High Quality or Exceptional Value waters, an Individual Permit is required. If it drains to other waters, a General Permit is required. For more information, please reference our NPDES Forms and Documents page.

Post Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM)

As a part of the NPDES permitting process it is a requirement to include a Post Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) Plan with a submission. The PCSM Plan should provide design features and BMPs that will manage any net increase in the 2 year stormwater runoff volume occurring after the completion of the project. It should be designed to maximize infiltration technologies, eliminate (where possible) or minimize point source discharges to surface waters, preserve the integrity of stream channels, and protect the physical, biological and chemical quantities of the receiving surface water. Lehigh County Conservation District has taken on the Engineering Delegation and reviews all NPDES permits in house. General Permits will be issued by the District and Individual Permits will be issued by PADEP after LCCD has completed their review. For reference material refer to Post Construction Stormwater BMPs.

Compliance Issues and Complaints

Part of the District’s mission is to handle compliance. The District performs site inspections. Site visits are also conducted when the District receives complaints. Complaints are strictly confidential. The District will respond by performing a site visit, completing an Earth Disturbance Inspection Report and then refer any additional issues to related agencies, such as PADEP or the Army Corps of Engineers (examples include wetland or stream encroachment violations). The complainant will be informed of LCCD’s findings. To file a complaint, call the Conservation District, 610-391-9583.

Level III Delegation

In addition to plan reviews, complaint handling and processing permits, the District can prepare, commence and execute summary proceedings, issue notices of violation, and schedule and conduct administrative enforcement conferences. The District also has the option to contact PADEP’s Compliance Specialist to issue an immediate stop work order. All the above can occur when voluntary compliance does not occur and/or there is a history of non-compliance at earth disturbance construction sites.

Stream Encroachment and Wetland Permitting

While some Districts have been delegated to handle stream encroachment and wetland issues, Lehigh County has not been. Any stream encroachment permitting or wetland permitting issue is referred to the Northeast Regional office of the PADEP. Please reference links to the PADEP Chapter 105 General Permit Forms and the US Army Corps of Engineers. If you wish to file a complaint regarding these matters, refer to the PADEP Complaint Form.