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Students Partner With County Planners for Water Study

Environmental technology students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s School of Natural Resources Management have partnered with the Lycoming County Planning Commission to perform an “illicit discharge” survey for stormwater.

The students under the guidance of Debra A. Buckman, assistant professor of environmental technology, and Steve R. Parker, instructor of environmental technology will investigate flows at stormwater discharges into tributaries of the Susquehanna River.

These inspections will take place during dry weather, which Buckman said is defined as beginning 72 hours after the last rainfall. Students will locate the discharge pipe and observe the flow. During dry weather, there should be no flow from the pipe. If there is flow, she explained, the students will collect samples and perform evaluations in the field. After that, they will return the samples to the lab at the Earth Science Center for additional testing.

Tests performed in the field will include temperature and pH. In the lab, the samples will be tested for phenols (a component of some detergents), chlorine (found in treated drinking water), copper (from domestic piping) and detergents. The presence of any of those parameters will indicate that there is an “illicit discharge” i.e., a washing machine or some illegal water dumping into a stormwater sewer rather than into the sanitary sewer.

This inspection will include the following areas: Williamsport, South Williamsport, DuBoistown, Loyalsock Township, Montoursville and Old Lycoming Township. All data will be reported to the Planning Commission, which then will use it to prepare its stormwater-permit report to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The project, which began last summer, will continue for the next year. Students have a choice of participating in the program or working with the Greater Nippenose Valley Watershed Association on monitoring surface and groundwater in the Antes Creek watershed.

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