Stormwater Management

In order to promote the public health, safety, and welfare within Cheltenham's two watersheds: the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed and the Wissahickon Creek Watershed, property improvements or developments involving 250 square feet of disturbance or more, are required to go through a Stormwater Management review process.

For more information regarding Stormwater Management requirements in the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek Watershed, refer to Chapter 290: Watershed Stormwater Management Ordinance, of the Cheltenham Township Code of Ordinances.

For more information regarding Stormwater Management requirements in the Wissahickon Creek Watershed, refer to Chapter 291: Watershed Stormwater Management for the Wissahickon Creek Watershed, of the Cheltenham Township Code of Ordinances.

CStorm Drains to Creeks lean water is important to everyone, so it's everyone's responsibility. Find out more about your role in the neighborhood's stormwater at

Today, the #1 source of water pollution is not industry but the cumulative impact of individual actions by residents and business operators, known as "non-point source pollution."

Stormwater runoff, which is the water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground, picks up whatever chemicals, trash or other materials is on yards, sidewalks, driveways, roads, etc., and carries it all into nearby creeks and down roadside storm drains that empty directly into creeks, harming water quality, plants and wildlife.


Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)

The federally mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System was designed to monitor and improve water quality in waterways across the nation. Under the program, Cheltenham Township developed an extensive storm water management program that incorporates six required components:


1.     Public Education and Outreach

2.     Public involvement and Participation

3.     Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

4.     Construction Stormwater Runoff Management

5.     Post Construction Stormwater Management

6.     Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping


The Township must submit annual reports detailing the program's progress to the Department of Environmental Protection, which will oversee the effort in every state. More information on this program is available from the Pennsylvania DEP website.

EPA Fact Sheets:


Pennsylvania Act 167 Stormwater Management Plan

Between 2004 and 2009, Cheltenham Township, in partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), completed a multi-phase watershed-wide study along the Tookany Creek. The study entailed the collection of survey data at over 100 sites. PWD crews installed metal rebar, set up survey equipment to take cross-section measurements and use global positioning system equipment to spatially identify the locations of these sites. 

The study was used to measure the flow patterns in the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed, which in turn will aid our ongoing efforts to mitigate storm flow damage to the stream. Study information will help the Township design projects aimed at decreasing the erosive effects of storm water, reducing the quantity of water that flows into the streams, and stabilizing and restoring the stream banks so they can withstand storm flows. The Township's approach emphasized hydraulic sustainability, better manage on-site storm water, enhance riparian and biological habitats, and improve aesthetics. In addition, the data will be used for a storm water management study of the entire Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed.

The study was used to create a new watershed-wide stormwater management ordinance adopted by the Township in May 2010.  [Municipal Code Chapter 290 Stormwater Watershed Management]

Links/Brochures for Residents:

Ways to Help Limit Stormwater Runoff Volume


A rain garden is a planted shallow depression designed to catch and filter rainfall runoff.  The garden captures rain from a downspout or a driveway.  The water sinks into the ground, aided by deep rooted plants that like wet and dry conditions.  A residential rain garden should dry out between rains and should only hold water for approximately 24 -72 hours.  This timeframe prevents standing water that could create mosquito habitat.  For more information on how to create your own rain garden, visit



Rain barrels are installed at the bottom of your down-spouts and catch the rain water that comes off the roof.  You can then reuse that water to water your garden or yard.  Don't forget to empty the barrels should between rain events to maximize their effectiveness. 


Planting trees, shrubs and/or plants that have a deep root structure help stormwater infiltrate into the ground more effectively than grass.  They also catch rain water on their leaves and branches. which helps to reduce the amount of run-off during a storm. Native plants are hardy because they have adapted to the local conditions. Once established, native plants do not need pesticides, fertilizers, or watering. Not only is this good for the environment, it saves time and money. For a list of plants and shrubs native to Southeastern Pennsylvania, download the Southeastern Pennsylvania Native Plants List.

Business Solutions to Stormwater Pollution

Businesses also need to be aware that things they do or products they use in their daily operations can enter the stormwater system and affect our water sources. Runoff from construction sites, spills at fueling areas and chemicals used to keep outdoor areas clean can be picked up by rainwater and whisked into the storm sewer system.


Vehicle wastes are among the many common stormwater pollutants that can degrade water quality. Stormwater runoff from vehicle maintenance and repair wastes has been found to contain high concentrations of metals, organics, oil and grease. When these wastes wash into our waters they can kill aquatic organisms. Metals such as chromium, cadmium, lead, and zinc have the potential to contaminate drinking water supplies as well as bio accumulate in aquatic life. Organics such as engine degreasers, cleaners, and other solvents can also degrade water quality.



Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG)

  • Use a FOG recycling/rendering service that provides watertight outdoor receptacles of adequate size.
  • Clean-up FOG spills as
  • soon as they occur. Develop a "spill plan."
  • Use dry clean-up practices to scrape, wipe or sweep FOG from utensils, equipment and floors prior to using wet clean-up methods.
  • Don't hose FOG waste down storm drains.
  • Improper disposal of FOG may lead to by-products in wastewater treatment plants and stormwater systems.
  • Schedule FOG pick-ups related to volume of FOG generation.
  • Maintain pavements and exterior grease traps.


Storage Container Safety
  • Outdoor storage containers should be water tight, rodent proof & protected from tampering.
  • If materials aren't stored properly, pollutants can leak from stockpiles and containers and run out onto the ground.
  • Reduce risk to environment by reducing the amount of materials and wastes kept in storage.
  • If materials must be stored outside, construct a covered, paved area designed to contain leaks and spills.
  • Regularly clean up around dumpsters.
  • If a dumpster leaks, immediately repair or replace it.

Preventing & Cleaning Up Spills

  • Don't allow open containers or tanks that are being filled to be left unattended.
  • Use a funnel when transferring liquids from one container to another.
  • Place trays under open containers and the spouts of liquid storage containers.
  • Buy products in smaller quantities whenever it’s cost effective.
  • Design work areas to contain spills.
  • Absorbent materials used to clean up hazardous substances must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
    Business Links/Brochures:

Construction Industry Information

The construction industry has a key role to play in stormwater management. As stormwater flows over a construction site, it can pick up pollutants such as sediment, debris, and chemicals. Uncontrolled erosion has a significant financial impact on a construction project. It costs time and money to repair gullies, replace vegetation, clean sediment clogged storm drains, and mitigate damage to other people's property.
Installing and maintaining pollution prevention techniques on site can reduce the potential for stormwater pollution and help protect our nation's water supply.

  • Minimizing the amount of exposed soil, because the less soil that is exposed the easier and cheaper it will be to control erosion. Sequence construction activities so that the soil is not exposed for long periods. Schedule site stabilization activities such as landscaping to be completed as quickly as possible after the land has been graded to the final contour.
  • Identify and protect areas where existing vegetation such as trees will not be disturbed by construction activity.
  • Protect streams, wild woodlands, wetlands, and other sensitive areas from any disturbance or construction activity by fencing or otherwise clearly marking those areas.
  • Silt Fencing: Inspect and maintain silt fences after each rainstorm. Make sure that the bottom of the silt fence is buried in the ground. Securely attach the material to the stakes.
  • Construction Entrances:  Make sure the construction entrance doesn't become buried in soil. Regular street sweeping at construction entrance will prevent dirt from entering storm drains.
Construction Links/Brochures: