Borough of Avalon

640 California Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA  15202

P: 412-761-5820

F: 412-761-5953

Business Hours: 8:00am - 4:00pm





You probably have heard council talking about this at our monthly council meetings over the past few years.


What is it?


MS4 definition: Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. 


What does this mean? and what does this mean to you?

Storm water run off in urbanized areas. From rainstorms.  From snow melt.  The water that runs from your roof, parking lots, and down our streets.  This water runs through a series of ditches and pipes, into the catch basins, flowing through the storm water system under our streets, exiting in our streams and rivers. This water picks up contaminants along the way. Pesticides, oil, grease and salt from roadways, trash, paper, dog waste.  All very detrimental to the environment. Because this storm water is untreated it could end up in our drinking water, interfere with fish and aquatic organisms.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has established an MS4 storm water management program intended to improve our waterways by reducing pollutants that storm water carries during a rainfall. Areas with a population of 50,000 or more are required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.  


How does this affect the Borough?

It means that Avalon Borough is required to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive storm water management program to reduce the discharge of pollutants.  We need to educate and involve the public to help protect water quality within our watersheds. This program must satisfy the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law.

Once developed, this program is approved and audited on an annual basis by the EPA.  It contains a schedule of operations and maintenance to the storm water system, best management practices and  a set of measurable goals called Minimum Control Measures.

Visit the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission website for a glossary of terms to better understand the MS4 program.

The MS4 permit consists of 6 measurable goals called Minimum Control Measures.    Click on the MCM's below for more information.

MCM #1: Public Education & Outreach

MCM #2: Public Involvement & Participation

MCM #3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

MCM #4: Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control

MCM #5: Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) in New and Re-Development Activities

MCM #6: Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

Within each MCM there are points to address called Best Management Practices (BMP’s). 


These practices can be both structural or operational.  Structural options are  ways to minimize damages associated with stormwater. The most popular structural practices are rain barrels or rain gardens.  Operational would be a best practice to prevent stormwater pollution.  For example, limiting the use of pesticides, erosion and sediment control during and after construction or capturing or reusing storm water to name a few.


Visit the EPA website for additional examples or the EPA’s Best Management Practices.

Instead of redirecting your downspouts to the street, an alternative for homeowners is to use rain barrels.  Not only does this eliminate the excess storm water in the streets but is a BMP (Best Management Practice) to reuse storm water for watering gardens.

If you love plants and gardening, investigate rain gardens for collecting water.  This method provides a filtration of pollutants before the water is absorbed in to the ground.


Visit this 3 Rivers Wet Weather link to see how our role, as homeowners and municipalities, can help solve this sewage and storm water overflow issue.

Avalon Borough participates in the Quaker Valley Council of Governments ("QVCOG") along with 14 other municipalities that also are working on MS4 regulations.  Visit the QVCOG Storm Water Education link for a schedule of events and other helpful homeowner hints.

Look for the QVCOG at local festivals such as Wizard Vue in Bellevue and an event for Clean Water Initiative held in March 2018 for "Grow Organic - Making the Transition".  Information available on the QVCOG Website.


The items in the photo on the right were found in one of our catch basins. This causes major backups in the system and is very difficult to remove. Be proactive.  Please do not throw waste of any kind in the catch basins.  

If possible, volunteer for clean up days.  We need everyone to help keep our community clean to avoid flooding in our storm system. Avalon NOW is an active citizen volunteer group that schedules regular clean up days throughout the year.  Visit their Facebook page to follow their work and find out when and where their monthly meetings are held.

Cub Scout Pack 258 spent a cold morning in November painting stencils on our catch basins. This is a gentle reminder to us all not to throw trash in the storm system.  Remember, all catch basins lead to the river!