Last month the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Ag Issues Forum was certainly informational. Less than twelve hours before the meeting, torrential flooding closed a portion of Route 30 for two hours and opened a three foot wide sinkhole in the highway. Twelve hours later, the topic of the Ag Issues Forum was storm water management regulations.
The speakers for the month were Jim Caldwell of Rettew, Inc. and Peter Hughes of Red Barn Consulting. Jim and Peter discussed the history of storm water management regulations, both in general and specifically how they relate to agricultural projects.
Jim and Peter both discussed that the DEP’s Storm Water Management Manual does not have special regulations or Best Management Practices (BMPs) that relate to specifically to agricultural projects. As a result, construction on a fifty acre farm needs the same kind of storm water basins as a two hundred house residential development or a strip mall. Obviously the concerns about storm water, and the ability to manage storm water, are different for these different situations.
Hughes reported that the DEP is working on a revision to the Storm Water Management Manual that will (hopefully) include BMPs and management requirements that are applicable to agricultural projects. Hopefully these requirements will allow farmers and municipalities to use farmland in a way that controls storm water and erosion in ways that are advantageous to the farmer’s operation.