Newtown News Update


Welcome to the April, 2019, issue of Newtown News Update. Back issues and subscribing information can be found here.  If you do not wish to receive further updates, please use the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email. The opinions expressed here are solely the those of John Mack and do not reflect the opinions of any other person or entity.

Watershed Pollution Reduction Plan

At the April 10, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Township Engineer Owen Hyne told Supervisors that the PA Department of Environmental Protect (DEP) requires that the township reduce pollutants (sediment and/or nutrients) from entering its watersheds by 10%. This is part of Newtown’s “MS4” program.

MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. MS4s are conveyances or systems of conveyances including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, or storm drains that are owned or operated by a public entity, are designed or used for collecting or conveying storm water and are not a combined sewer or part of a publicly owned treatment works. A municipality is bound by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for an MS4 when all or a portion of a municipality lies within an urbanized area (UA), as determined by the US Census Bureau.*

* US Census Bureau uses a complicated formula to delineate Urban Areas from Rural Areas. Newtown Township is approximately 12 square miles. According to the 2010 Census Data, ONLY 1.22 square miles of the Township is NOT considered Urbanized. That means 90% of Newtown Township is considered an Urbanized Area by the US Census Bureau!

Three “impaired watersheds” were identified by the EPA for pollution reduction:

  1. Neshaminy Creek – Nutrients and Sediments
  2. Lake Luxembourg – Nutrients and Sediments
  3. Core Creek - Sediments

To meet DEP requirements, Newtown must reduce a total of 202,252 lbs. of sedimentation per year entering these watersheds for five years.

As late as 2017, it was thought that the Township would not be able to find enough project areas to meet the 10% reduction requirement, which could result in penalties to the Township. Also, it was anticipated that the cost would be “astronomical” – as much as $850,000!

A Town, A Plan, A Meadow (or Two or Three)

After many discussions with the DEP, the Township has put forward a Pollution Reduction Plan (PRP) that details the scheduled implementation of a series of Best Management Practices (BMP’s) necessary for the reduction of pollutants in the waterways of the municipality without spending a huge sum of money. Specifically, the plan proposes to implement storm basin and meadow conversions, inlet cleaning and stream restoration projects.

Based upon this plan, the Township has budgeted $30,000 per year over 5 years. Much of the cost savings is due to the anticipated use of Township labor and equipment to do the meadow conversions and other projects. 

At the October 18, 2018, BOS budget meeting, Mr. Lewis expressed hope that the PA DEP would accept the plan. "DEP will likely approve what we are proposing," said Lewis, "provided that the calculations support the proposal. They have approved this method for sediment reduction in other Townships," he added.

Download the Pollution Reduction Plan

Activities in Some Parks May Be Affected

At the April 12, 2019, BOS meeting, Supervisor Calabro asked if the Township has enough township basins that can be converted to meadows to meet the 10% reduction requirement. Township Manager, Micah Lewis clarified that the seven township owned basins will be converted to meadows along with under-utilized park areas. The manicured grass areas will be transformed into meadow areas (wild flowers, etc.), which will also reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

Included in the list of potential "meadow conversions" is 6.21 acres of the 22.8 acre Roberts Ridge Park located on Lower Dolington Road at Frost Lane. The area that the Township is considering for conversion to a meadow appears to be the grassy area where the Newtown Parks & Recreation Department hosts its “Super Soccer Stars” educational program for children ages 2-3 (see map).

Roberts Ridge Park Planned Meadow Conversion (labeled "#7" in the above map)

The impact of meadow conversion on Roberts Ridge Park was discussed at the April 24, 2019, BOS meeting. Specifically, Supervisor Mack suggested that a meadow conversion would negatively impact soccer and other recreational activities in the park. Mr. Lewis responded that there is no marked, official soccer field in Roberts Ridge Park and that children’s “Super Soccer Stars” classes would be moved to other parks. Also, Mr. Lewis confirmed that the meadows could be designed to include cutouts or paths that would permit people to stroll through the meadows, which would include wildflowers.

Mr. Mack asked if possible meadow conversions of basins owned by HOAs would count toward the township’s reduction requirement. Mr. Hyne said although these basins are covered under existing BMPs, some type of credit would be given.

Mr. Lewis believes the meadow and basin conversions will start this year. Mr. Calabro suggested working with Bucks County Community or Del Val Colleges horticultural departments.

Submit Comments

The Pollution Reduction Plan will be are available for review and public comment at the Newtown Township Building at 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940 on April 19, 2019, for a 30-day comment period. You can also download it here.

Comments can also be submitted in writing to the Newtown Township Manager at the address listed above, no later than May 20, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. The plan will also be on the agenda at the May 8, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting. The public is welcome to attend this meeting and comment upon the plan in person.

PFAS in Drinking Water Update

The Newtown Artesian Water Company recently published the 2019 first quarter PFAS test results for drinking water sources in Newtown. There is a reduction across the board, but it's “parts per trillion” so variances are expected. In general, there is not much change from the results reported in Q4 2018. See charts below.

Sen. Maria Collett, D-12, of Lower Gwynedd, recently  introduced bill, S.B. 581, which would create an interim drinking water standard for four types of PFAS at 10 parts per trillion. This is a fraction of a 70 ppt health advisory level put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency and is even lower than the limits recommended by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Fisher & Mack for Supervisor


Please consider supporting John Mack and Dennis Fisher, both incumbents on the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors, for new 6-year terms as Supervisors.

Mack won a two-year seat in the 2017 election drawing the most votes among all candidates running for three open positions on the board. Fisher was appointed to the board in July 2018 to fill the remaining term of Democrat Jen Dix who moved with her family to New Hampshire.

“We’re very fortunate to have two highly capable and dedicated candidates who have already proven themselves on the Board of Supervisors as advocates for responsible government,” said George Skladany, chairperson of the Newtown Democrats. “The municipal election this fall will be about who has the best long-range interests of the township and its residents in mind.”

Learn About the Candidates & Donate to the Campaign

John Mack