Northampton Must Reduce Pollutants In Waterways

As the Borough of Northampton reaches the end of its five-year MS4 permit, borough council is working on compliance to renew the permit in 2018. At its July 20 meeting, council discussed an upcoming compliance procedure. Among the biggest changes the borough must comply with is a pollutant reduction plan for its waterways.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Program (MS4) strives to minimize the negative impacts of storm water runoff. Its 2018 guidelines are requiring that all municipalities reduce pollution loading to their “impaired” streams.

Michael Schwartz of Gilmore & Associates, who has spent two years helping the borough develop a plan for the MS4 guidelines, explained that all of Northampton’s waterways are “impaired,” including the Lehigh River, the Hockendauqua Creek, and the Catasauqua Creek. Metals, suspended solids, and siltation are among the pollutants that must be reduced.

“You can lower pollutants, but [eliminating them] is mission impossible,” said Councilman Ed Pany.

The DEP is asking that municipalities reduce pollutants by five to ten percent over the course of five years. Schwartz explained that one of the ways to reduce pollutants is to plant trees along the waterways as a buffer.

“Relatively speaking, the borough is in good compliance with the permit,” said Schwartz.

A public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. on August 17, giving the public the chance to learn more about the MS4 plan.

In addition to Schwartz’s presentation at council’s regular meeting, Arthur Swallow of Arthur A. Swallow Associates Land Surveying & Development presented final/preliminary plans to council for apartments on 1503 Main Street. Last month, the planning commission approved the plans. However, for the project to continue, council needed to give approval.

Council approved the plan with some conditions. Councilman Pany asked that something be done to ensure Keller Enterprises on Main Street, owned by Frank Keller, has parking for customers.

“[They] are the oldest fuel dealer in the borough,” he said. “[We] do not want to penalize him at all…We want to take care of him.”

Pany also asked that a historical sign be erected to commemorate the building as Northampton’s first high school.

Developers anticipate that construction will begin in September or October.

In addition, council made a motion to allow bicycles on the D&L Trail. The section of the trail in Northampton was the only section of the trail to ban bicycles. All members of council approved the request, except for Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr., who cited safety concerns.

Finally, council approved a request made by State Representative Zachary Mako to hold a shredding event on Saturday, October 7, from 10 a.m. until noon. The event will take place at the Northampton Memorial Community Center. Both borough residents and nonresidents will be able to shred old documents at no cost. This will not be an electronic recycling event, nor will bottles, plastics, metals, etc. be accepted.

The next council meeting will be held on August 17.