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Upper Makefield cracks down on stream dumping


Upper Makefield officials are taking steps to protect local waterways and stormwater management facilities from harmful dumping.

On April 2, the board of supervisors voted to adopt two ordinance amendments that clarify restrictions on depositing certain materials in stormwater systems and watercourses within the township.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to dispose, or cause to be disposed, grass clippings, leaf waste, municipal waste, residue (liquid or solid), recyclable material … or any material of any sort into any watercourse in the township or in any water of the commonwealth,” reads one of the ordinance amendments.

The second ordinance amendment essentially prohibits disposing the same things into inlets, stormwater management facilities/systems, and surface waters of the commonwealth. The legal language says only stormwater is allowed, except under limited special exceptions, such as having a state or federal permit that allows other types of discharge.

Dumping of the materials outlined in the ordinance amendments has been an issue in Upper Makefield, officials have said. Depositing of grass clippings is a particular problem, said Township Solicitor Mary C. Eberle.

“It’s important to get this in place before mowing season,” Eberle said of the prohibitions.

Supervisor Diana Nolan has said that the restrictions are a step in the right direction for safeguarding the local environment.

“By enforcing these ordinances, we’ll be protecting our waterways and the river,” Nolan has said. “We’ll be helping to protect wildlife.”

Officials say that’s no overstatement.

Yard waste like leaves, grass, and brush piled along stream edges can suffocate and kill trees and shrubs that protect against stream bank erosion.

Furthermore, yard waste that enters a stream can lead to an excess of nutrients that deplete the waterway of oxygen required by fish and aquatic insects.

Yard waste and other materials can also cause backups in stormwater systems, which can lead to flooding and areas of stagnant water that become breeding grounds for mosquitos.

Supervisors previously reviewed drafts of the ordinance amendments at their March 5 meeting.