MassDEP revises MS4 compliance schedule to align with EPA

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As a co-issuer of the general permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, known as the MS4 permit, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is revising the compliance schedule for the stormwater permit to align with the schedule of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
 
The EPA announced last month that it is postponing the effective date of the MS4 stormwater permit by one year, due to ongoing litigation.
 
The MS4 permit, which will regulate stormwater in more than 250 municipalities in Massachusetts, was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017, with the first action item for municipalities due in September. The EPA’s action delays permit implementation until July 1, 2018, and postpones the due date for communities to file their Notice of Intent as well.
 
The MassDEP received requests from 28 municipalities and one municipal coalition asking the department to align the compliance schedule contained in the MS4 permit with the EPA’s schedule. Citing the goal of a coordinated federal-state implementation process, the MassDEP determined that good cause exists to revise the state permit deadline for submittal of notices of intent.
 
To meet the revised effective date of the MS4 permit, municipalities seeking coverage under the state-issued permit must submit a Notice of Intent within 90 days of July 1, 2018, or on such earlier date as may be required by the EPA or a court upon judicial review. All compliance deadlines included in the state-issued permit have been extended by one year to align with the federal compliance deadlines.
 
The postponement of the effective date of the permit comes after a number of parties filed appeals of the MS4 permit. The consolidated appeals will be heard by the federal circuit court in Washington, D.C. The groups supporting the appeal contend that the MS4 permit exceeds the EPA’s authority under the federal Clean Water Act.
 
In July, the EPA agreed to a request that was filed jointly by the Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship, the town of Franklin, and the city of Lowell asking EPA Region 1 to delay the permit for one year pending judicial review. In its postponement notice, the EPA expressed interest in exploring the use of alternative dispute resolution to engage with petitioners and said that the postponement will give the EPA time to determine if any changes to the permit for small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems are appropriate.
 
The 2003 MS4 permit, which has been administratively continued in Massachusetts since 2008, remains in effect.
 
For more information, including the notice of postponement from the EPA, visit https://www3.epa.gov/region1/npdes/stormwater/MS4_MA.html.