Jodun addresses environmental issues at CCATO convention
ROTE — One of the final attendants to speak at the Clinton County Association of Township Officials convention was the Clinton County Conservation District Director Wade Jodun.
Jodun related the partnership the district has with local municipalities, as well as the importance of an erosion and sedimentation plan (E&S) with them and other topics of concern.
“Pennsylvania law requires anyone with more than 5,200 feet of disturbance, have a plan. There is no worse scenario than a municipality that issued a building permit for someone paid by the municipality to issue a building permit,” Jodun said. “Just send them (E&S plans) to us.”
Jodun continued saying if anyone is disturbing more than an acre, they would need a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Switching topics to stormwater running off on other private properties, Jodun said that 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. “DEP doesn’t have the authority to intervene, the conservation doesn’t have the authority to intervene. We can come out and talk to you about alternatives.”
Jodun urged the conservation’s help toward municipalities — writing permits without fees, building plans, etc.
One of the greatest causes of flooding in Clinton County is undersized culverts, according to Jodun. He said putting an eight-foot-wide stream and channeling it through a 12-inch culvert. That can happen with well water conditions, but not with a 200- to 300-year flood event, he added.
“Over and over again, we see people put in an 18-inch culvert and channel a 12-foot stream into it. It works during the dry season — it does not work when you have flood water,” Jodun said.
One thing that Jodun said he cautions townships and municipalities about is streams.
Roadside ditches that are man-made by municipalities can be considered a stream under Pennsylvania law, according to him. Since the “stream” created has a defined bed, vegetation, ecosystems, etc., it qualifies as one, he added.
“That stream is now a part of the commonwealth and the municipality can no longer muck it out and maintain it. It is now a body of water of the commonwealth,” Jodun said.
That is the law and how it works, he added. If anyone thinks they are dealing with a body of water that might be considered a stream, Jodun urges them to contact the district.
The final topic of discussion by Jodun involved wetlands. He showed an image of Woods Avenue in Lock Haven where water began to percolate up above land. According to Jodun, the land owner tried to cut the ground up and get rid of the water and DEP came and said that their entire backyard is now a wetland.
“That is a notifying approach of the PA law … if you feel squishy under your foot during the wet season, you might be looking at a wetland,” he said.
Jodun urged people thinking about building on a possible wetland to call them first.
Jodun also talked about dirt/gravel road maintenance in municipalities and agriculture related ordinances before taking his leave.