Monday, 03 August 2020 15:21

Stormwater Information

Upstream Art making a SPLASH!

                The Elk County Conservation District (ECCD) was awarded a grant through the Elk County Council on the Arts (ECCOTA) and PA Partners in the Arts (PPA) for our Elk County Upstream Art project in 2019. The grant includes completion of 4 storm drain murals across Elk County. The murals are painted on storm drain inlets by Elk County artists to help raise awareness about stormwater and where it goes. Did you know most stormwater is drained directly to nearby streams and rivers? This opens our waterways up to sediment pollution, thermal pollution, and pollution from any trash that is washed down as well.


Mural Locations:

Think the mural you saw was cool? Check out the others at the locations below!

St. Marys – In front of 294 Depot Street
St. Marys – In front of the St. Marys Boys and Girls Club

Johnsonburg – Corner of Market Street and Spruce Street

Ridgway - Corner of South Mill Street and Main Street

Ridgway - Corner of Court street and Main Street

Kersey – Within the Fox Township Park near the concession building


What is Storm Water?

                Stormwater is any water that comes from precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) Sometimes this water infiltrates, is absorbed, into the ground naturally. Other times it runs off impervious surfaces like roads, driveways, and rooftops. When this water runs off it often finds its way into storm drains and is deposited into nearby waterbodies causing several types of pollution.


Thermal Pollution: Stormwater often causes thermal pollution because of its warm temperature. Summer is the season of hot days and pop-up thunderstorms. When rainfall lands and flows across pavement and roofs that have been heated by the summer sun all day the water temperature rises. When that stormwater enters nearby water ways it has the potential to raise stream temperatures. This has a huge effect on aquatic life as many species require cooler temperatures. Elk County has only cold water designated waterways, meaning that the species found in Elk County streams and rivers require cooler temperatures and an increase in just a few degrees can place a lot of stress on them and even kill them.

Sediment Pollution: Similarly as this water flows across surfaces it picks up sediments and transports them to our waterways. This influx of water also causes water levels to rise and can cause flooding and erosion. The erosion of streambanks also contributes to sediment pollution. This suspended sediment can be harmful to fish’s gills and the ecosystem functionality of other organisms lower in the food chain, further disrupting the entire chain.

Waste Pollution: Sediment isn’t the only thing the stormwater is picking up, it is also transporting trash! Discarded bottles and cans, wrappers, cigarette butts and more are caught up in the water and taken into streams and rivers. During the 2019 Clarion river cleanup local participants removed 820 pounds of trash out of the Clarion River! This included everything from tires and automotive parts, to traffic cones and other domestic waste.

Nutrient/Chemical Pollution: Stormwater as it flows also comes into contact with spilled chemicals, fertilizers, and pathogens found in animal waste. That little bit of oil you spilled in your driveway may not seem like a big deal, but imagine if all your neighbors thought the same about the half a quart of oil that they spilled! Before long those spills add up and can kill fish and macroinvertebrates living in our streams.

Solutions to Pollution

We see that stormwater can have a big impact but what can we do to fix the problem? It may seem daunting and you may feel that the problem is bigger than we can solve, but it’s not! By making small changes we can have a positive impact. Simple things such as picking up trash or starting to use rain barrels around your home can help reduce stormwater runoff and in turn mitigate the impact on aquatic ecosystems. Other Best Management Practices (BMPs), like those listed below, can have great success in helping prevent further degradation of our Pennsylvania’s waterways!

-Rain gardens

-Pervious pavement

-Rain Barrels

Read 4555 times Last modified on Friday, 13 August 2021 15:26


Elk County Courthouse
250 Main Street
P.O. Box 448
Ridgway, PA 15853

Elk County Courthouse Annex
300 Center Street
P.O. Box 448
Ridgway, PA 15853