Clean Water

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is dedicated to our Clean Water initiative aimed at improved protection of the streams and rivers that pass beneath or near the PA Turnpike.

The Journey Towards Clean Water

Duck on a pond

Water is essential to life. We, and all other living things, depend on water for health, happiness, and survival. Having access to clean water is even more important to sustaining health and life.

We created a comprehensive Clean Water initiative to take on the challenge of creating more sustainable clean water practices during and after construction that happens on our roadways.

Because clean water matters to us, too.

Waterfall

The Challenge

When it rains or precipitates, the water must go somewhere. Some of it serves purposes like replenishing groundwater, but some of It becomes runoff. Runoff flows downhill and through streams collecting pollutants such as dirt, fertilizer, bacteria, pesticides, metals, and petroleum byproducts.

While construction is necessary for optimizing travel, it can also be the culprit of runoff if storm water management isn’t put into place. Excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous from runoff can eventually make its way into streams, lakes, or water supplies and degrade water quality.

River rapids

How does clean water affect you?

Clean water:

  • Maintains a clean, beautiful environment
  • Contributes to higher quality drinking water
  • Supports healthy ecosystems for wildlife, farming, recreation, and more
Stormwater drain under roadway

How you can help keep Pennsylvania’s water cleaner:

Our Clean Water Initiative

The PA Turnpike employs several systems as part of our initiative to reduce pollutants in stormwater and is guided by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

MS4

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) are systems made up of storm inlets, pipes, ditches, swales, and stormwater basins that collect and transport runoff from stormwater. They work to manage the flow of water and reduce pollutants such as sediment.

Stormwater drain in the ground
Stormwater runoff basin
Drainage channel by PA Turnpike tunnel

To learn more about MS4s, please visit this DEP FAQ.

Post-Construction Stormwater Management

It’s important to manage stormwater runoff even after construction has ended. Without as much soil to absorb water as groundwater, developed land can usher water into a stream or body of water more quickly. The NPDES program requires a Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) plan to demonstrate how this increased stormwater runoff will be managed to mimic or reduce the pre-construction conditions.

Tactics include permanent Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as:

  • Inlets: Stormflows are collected by these inlets and the water is delivered through pipes to control roadway runoff and reduce roadway flooding.
  • Drainage Pipes, Ditches, and Swales: These transport runoff to stormwater basins.
  • Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs): SCMs retain or reduce runoff, collect sediment, or infiltrate stormwater back into the ground for natural filtering.

Construction Stormwater Compliance

Construction and land development often remove vegetated or paved earth and expose soil, making the site more susceptible to erosion from weather. The Commission works to ensure that sediment in construction site stormwater runoff is controlled by following permit requirements. This is done using erosion and sedimentation BMPs throughout the course of construction until vegetative cover is restored. BMPs are temporary structural or vegetative practices that are designed to trap or filter sediment in stormwater runoff at construction sites. BMPs require site-specific design, routine inspection, and maintenance to ensure that they are functioning properly throughout the construction process.

Stormwater runoff basin
Erosion control structure
Erosion control structure

Compliance Management Plan

In 2021, as part of a consent agreement with the United States EPA, the PTC agreed to implement a Compliance Management Program (CMP) for controlling sediment and erosion that could take place during construction and eliminate stormwater runoff leaving a construction area. The PTC’s plan applies to any project that is required to obtain coverage under a NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities.

The CMP contains five primary elements:

  • Designation of Compliance Management Plan Administrator
    As part of the CMP the PTC was requested to identify an Administrator of the plan who is responsible for its implementation.  The PTC has selected the Chief Engineer to fulfill this roll and will serve as the Administrator throughout the entire term of the agreement.
  • Stormwater Inspection Training
    The PTC will be training its staff and our contracted staff on the requirement of NPDES permits and the means by which inspections are to occur and how to resolve deficiencies which may be observed during construction.
  • PTC Stormwater Self-Audit Program
    The PTC will be utilizing a third-party auditor to review each NPDES permitted project annually to look at both the prior year’s inspection information and to review current site conditions.
  • Stormwater Compliance Data Tracking
    PTC will be submitting annual reports to EPA on the status of all its active construction projects with an NPDES permit. The PTC has developed and is implementing an internal application which will collect and store all this information.
  • Public Information Portal
    This webpage and the resources linked to it constitute the public information portal. The links below are lists of information that is provided for PTC projects with an NPDES (construction stormwater) permit that were active as of June 10, 2021. Project information will be updated approximately once every three months.

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