ROTE — One of the latest attendees to speak at the Clinton County Township Officials Association convention was Clinton County Conservation District Superintendent Wade Jodun.
Jodun spoke about the partnership the district has with local municipalities, as well as the importance of an erosion and sedimentation (E&S) plan with them and other areas of concern.
“Pennsylvania law requires anyone with more than 5,200 feet of disturbance to have a plan. There is no worse case scenario than a municipality issuing a building permit to a person paid by the municipality to issue a building permit,” Jodun said. “Just send them to us (E&S plans).”
Jodun went on to say that if anyone disturbed more than one acre, they would need a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Turning to topics regarding stormwater draining onto other private property, Jodun said there is no nuisance stormwater law in Pennsylvania.
“Your neighbor can put water on your property. Your only legal recourse is a civil suit,” he said. “The DEP does not have the power to intervene, the conservation does not have the power to intervene. We can come out and tell you about alternatives.
Jodun has requested conservation assistance from municipalities – drafting no-cost permits, building plans, etc.
According to Jodun, one of the main causes of flooding in Clinton County is undersized culverts. He said to put a creek eight feet wide and channel it through a 12 inch culvert. It can happen with well water conditions, but not with a 200 to 300 year flood, he added.
“Time and time again we see people putting an 18-inch culvert and channeling a 12-foot stream into it. It works in the dry season – it doesn’t work when you have flood water,” Jodun said.
One thing Jodun said he cautions townships and municipalities about is waterways.
According to him, man-made roadside ditches created by municipalities can be considered a creek under Pennsylvania law. Since “flow” created has a bed, vegetation, ecosystems, etc. defined, it qualifies as one, he added.
“This creek is now part of the Commonwealth and the municipality can no longer clean and maintain it. It is now a Commonwealth water body,” Jodun said.
This is the law and how it works, he added. If anyone thinks they are dealing with a body of water that could be considered a stream, Jodun urges them to contact the district.
Jodun’s last topic of discussion was about wetlands. He showed an image of Woods Avenue in Lock Haven where water began to seep over the land. According to Jodun, the owner of the land tried to cut the ground and get rid of the water and the DEP came and said their whole garden is now a wetland.
“It’s a notification approach to PA law…if you feel spongy under your foot during the rainy season, you may be looking at a wetland,” he said.
Jodun urged people considering building on a possible wetland to call them first.
Jodun also talked about maintenance of dirt/gravel roads in municipalities and agriculture-related ordinances before taking time off.