LCCWA  •  Lebanon County Clean Water Alliance

   This page serves as an easy-to-access online repository for PDF-file documents relating to the work of the Lebanon County Clean Water Alliance. After presenting a brief history of the organization and its mission statement, the page lists relevant LCCWA-related hyperlinked documents in reverse chronological order.

Brief History of the LCCWA

   The LCCWA was born of crisis, necessity, and MS4.  MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems — a series of mandates & regulations imposed by the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and PA-DEP (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) based on the 1987 Clean Water Act. The goal of MS4 is to protect the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Background information on MS4 can be found on the Wikipedia entry on the Clean Water Act and on the section of the EPA website dealing with MS4.

Here is the EPA's capsule summary of MS4 over the past 23 years, plucked from the EPA web page linked above: 

Phase I, issued in 1990, requires medium and large cities or certain counties with populations of 100,000 or more to obtain NPDES permit coverage for their stormwater discharges. There are approximately 750 Phase I MS4s.  Phase II, issued in 1999, requires regulated small MS4s in urbanized areas, as well as small MS4s outside the urbanized areas that are designated by the permitting authority, to obtain NPDES permit coverage for their stormwater discharges. There are approximately 6,700 Phase II MS4s.

In Pennsylvania and in Lebanon County, MS4 Phase II kicked in in 2003, administered for the EPA by the PA-DEP.  Neither agency provided local municipalities with any kind of funding or technical guidance for what was & remains a highly complex & technically intricate law.  Over the next seven years, Lebanon County's public officials mostly ignored the EPA's mandates, and little was done at the local, state, or federal levels to bring municipal stormwater discharges into compliance. Meantime water quality in the Chesapeake Bay continued to deteriorate. Those seven years of local inaction (2003-2010) are the main reason why local public officials are scrambling to comply with the law today.

At the federal level, Barack Obama's EPA took a moderately more aggressive stance on clean water issues than George W. Bush's, and finally in 2010, after seven years of foot-dragging in Lebanon County, the EPA in Washington took action.

The EPA Lowers the Boom

In April 2010, the EPA announced that 79 municipalities across the Chesapeake Bay watershed were in violation of the Clean Water Act. Ten of the 79 were in Lebanon County.  Each jurisdiction was ordered to comply through a "Findings of Violation and Order for Compliance and Information Request," as seen in the following PDF files:  EPA to Lebanon County  •  Lebanon City  •  Cornwall Borough  •  Jonestown Borough  •  North Londonderry Township,  •  North Cornwall Township  •  North Lebanon Township  •  South Lebanon Township  •  Swatara Township  •  West Lebanon Township.

After the EPA lowered the boom, public officials across Lebanon county, as across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, faced a looming crisis. Failure to comply with the EPA's MS4 mandates & regulations would bring lawsuits & stiff fines. Ignoring the law was no longer an option.

A year later, in April 2011 the LCCWA was created, spearheaded by Lebanon County Planning Department Executive Director Kris Troup. Conceived as a loose coalition of public officials who would meet every month or two to share information and coordinate efforts to the extent practicable, the group included representatives from most of the townships & boroughs in Lebanon County and the Lebanon County Conservation District. The only non-governmental organization to participate in LCCWA meetings at this early stage was the Quittapahilla Creek Garbage Museum in Annville.

Later that fall, in September 2011, the PA-DEP issued a revised & updated set of of compliance requirements, titled "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Discharges From Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) General Permit (PAG-13)".  For local officials, this was & remains the MS4-compliance Bible. A couple of months later, in November 2011, the PA-DEP issued a clarifying memorandum on MS4, framed as responses to FAQs that local officials across South-Central PA had likely been bombarding it with.

Meantime, in October 2011, the City of Lebanon finally enacted a stormwater law to comply with EPA mandates. In January 2012, the EPA slashed the fine being levied on the City of Lebanon from a possible high of $177,000 down to $21,600. City officials grumbled & cried foul, as described in the Lebanon Daily News on January 24, 2012, (especially after the EPA rejected its "green" proposal for Stoever's Dam Lake in lieu of a fine), but the EPA stuck to its guns. My sense is they did it to set an example, and to drive the lesson home that municipalities can't just ignore the law for years — especially on such a vitally important issue — and expect a feathery slap on the wrist.

Why those seven years of inaction on MS4 among Lebanon County public officials?  Lots of reasons. For many, ignoring the law seemed a viable & sensible option, with George W. Bush's EPA fostering a culture of noncompliance without penalty or sanction. Feeding into that national dynamic was a host of more local factors:  institutional inertia; the specter of raising taxes in a region with a long & deep tradition of local control, anti-tax sentiment, and suspicion of the federal government; the patchwork quilt of more than two dozen local jurisdictions (one city, 7 boroughs & 18 townships) that worked — and continues to work — powerfully against county-wide & regional planning initiatives. Some likely figured that the MS4 law would eventually be watered down or repealed.  Critically important here, as noted above, was that the EPA and PA-DEP provided no funding, and the law itself was highly complex, requiring considerable technical expertise to even understand its requirements. Then in 2008-2009 came not only Barack Obama's EPA but the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  In the end, for roughly seven years (2003-2010), the easiest choice for most local public officials in Lebanon County was to take the path of least resistance and do nothing.

In early 2013, the LCCWA received a federal grant to be administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (www.nfwf.org) to hire the firm Land Studies, Inc. to assist in developing its organizational structure and take the first steps toward formulating a Strategic Action Plan. By summer 2013, the LCCWA was deliberating whether to formalize the group through a Memorandum of Understanding among its members, which it did in November 2013.

In May 2014, Kris Troup resigned from the Lebanon County Planning Department to take a job in North Londonderry Township, and the chairship of the LCCWA briefly devolved to Stephanie Harmon of the Lebanon County Conservation District.  In July 2014, Harmon passed the LCCWA baton to the newly hired Planning Department Executive Director Bob Sentz, who delegated most LCCWA responsibilities to Assistant Director & Community Planner Julie Cheyney.  In July 2015, Bob Sentz resigned his position, leaving the LCCWA in the hands of his former assistant Julie Cheyney.  At the present writing, the LCCWA and its constituent members continue to scramble to comply with an ever-changing set of federally-mandated rules & regulations.

Thus are the chequered origins of the Lebanon County Clean Water Alliance — a necessary & valuable coalition of public officials and community organizations focused on watershed & water quality issues that should have been organized back in the mid-2000s, and should do much more to genuinely engage ordinary citizens across Lebanon County about the importance of clean water, complying with federal mandates, and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.                   

—Michael Schroeder

After several drafts & revisions, the mission statement of the LCCWA as adopted in August 2011 reads as follows:

Mission Statement of the LCCWA

"The mission of the Lebanon County Clean Water Alliance (LCCWA) is to maintain a coalition of local government agencies and interested stakeholders to partner together to conserve, protect, and enhance the water resources for the people of Lebanon County."



Documents

2015  •  June  •  Membership List of LCCWA.  Includes 15 municipalities and four non-governmental stakeholders, including the QWA and the Quittapahilla Creek Garbage Museum, with a contact person & contact information for each.

2015  •  January  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of January 28

2014  •  November  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of November 19

2014  •  September  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of September 30

2014  •  May  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of May 14

2014  •  March  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of March 21

2014  •  January  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of January 29

2013  •  November  •  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).   A 4-page form "Between [sic; i.e., Among] the Stakeholders of the Lebanon County Clean Water Alliance".  Includes a statement of purpose; a definition of stakeholders; the principles of cooperation; the Alliance's roles & responsibilities; the Alliance's organizational structure; and the MOU term.  A form to be signed & dated by stakeholders.

2013  •  November  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of November 22

2013  •  October  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of October 23

2013  •  August  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of August 27

2013  •  August  •  Prioritized BMP Site Summary.  Prepared by Land Studies, Inc. through a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, this 5-page document identifies eight potential BMP (Best Management Practices) sites and their locations, descriptions, and potential for enhancing water quality in Lebanon County.  It is accompanied by two additional one-page documents that summarize much of the same information and include photographs and a map of three of the proposed BMP sites (2, 3 & 5).  A one-page, poster-sized document mapping out the proposed sites and summarizing their locations, descriptions & potential is accessible by clicking HERE.  A two-page document offering the same textual information but different photographs (including photos labeled "Existing" and "Proposed") is accessible by clicking HERE

2013  •  July  •  Water Quality Improvement Strategic Action Plan & Scope of Work.  Discusses the purpose of the document and summarizes the mission of the LCCWA; offers background information; outlines the Strategic Action Plan objectives, the project team, and a 4-phase scope of work. Prepared with the assistance of Land Studies, Inc. through a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

2013  •  June  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of 24 June.

2013  •  June  •  Summary of Lebanon County Clean Water Initiatives.  Spreadsheet listing BMP projects in different watersheds & municipalities by date, the type of BMP and the organization responsible for implementation, watershed threats, and implementation related to outreach, public education & policy.  The Quittapahilla Watershed Association is well represented here, with upwards of a dozen QWA initiatives listed.

2013  •  March  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of March 27.  

2013  •  January  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of January 29.

2012  • November  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of November 2.

2012  •  July  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of July 24.

2012  •  May  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of May 21.

2012  •  April  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of April 12.

2012  •  January  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of January 24, 2012.

2012  •  LCCWA Water Quality Improvement Strategic Plan Initiative. One-page, double-sided, undated handout with sections titled "The Mission," "Who is the Alliance Today?", "The Purpose for a Water Quality Improvement Strategic Action Plan," "Project Goals," "Key Objectives for Meeting the Project Goals," and "The Challenge".  A jargon-laden document (with phrases like "benefit stacking" and "continuity of involvement" peppered throughout) in need of additional editing ("The Purpose for"—?), the handout concludes with a stock photo of two white men in suits shaking hands.  Inaccurately claims that the LCCWA was founded in January 2011; as seen below, the first meeting was on April 6, 2011, when the name of the organization was still undecided.

2102  •  Lebanon County MS4 Permit Annual Report Summary.  One-page spreadsheet listing all the municipalities in the county and the progress each has made in meeting the six major categories of MS4 mandates.  Also lists & quantifies the acreage of each municipality's Urban Stormater Structural BMPs.

2012  •  Lebanon County Impaired Streams.  A handy two-page list of the county's impaired streams and the "source / cause" of each, extracted from the 2012 Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring & Assessment Report.

2011  •  November  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of November 1.

2011  •  September  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of September 26.

2011  •  August  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of August 24.

2011  •  June  •  Minutes of LCCWA Meeting of June 29.

2011  •  May  •  Agenda for the LCCWA Meeting of May 19.

2011  •  April  •  Agenda for the First LCCWA Meeting of April 6.  Includes sign-up sheet for those in attendance; a list of possible names for the organization; an agenda for the meeting on May 19; and minutes of the meetings of June 29 & Aug 24.

2010  •  April  •  Stormwater / MS4 References & Resources.  PA-DEP.   A very useful compendium of hyperlinked resources dealing with a wide variety of issues relating to MS4 & stormwater management across Pennsylvania & the Mid-Atlantic.  Includes a goldmine of references to environmental & non-profit organizations, including a comprehensive hyperlinked list of PA watershed associations.


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