Stormwater permit goes into effect in July

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “MS4” permit, which will regulate stormwater in more than 250 municipalities in Massachusetts, will take effect on July 1, but the first action item for municipalities to comply is due in September.
 
Communities must prepare and file their Notice of Intent for permit coverage within 90 days, or by Sept. 29. A Notice of Intent template and instructions are available on the EPA’s website.
 
The final general permit for stormwater discharges from small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Massachusetts was published in the Federal Register in April of 2016.
 
Under the MS4 permit, municipalities must develop, implement and enforce a stormwater management program that controls pollutants to the maximum extent practicable, protects water quality, and satisfies appropriate requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. The MS4 permit requires implementation of six minimum control measures.
 
Updated permit requirements include the need to address identified water quality problems, including stormwater discharges to water bodies with approved total maximum daily loads for bacteria, phosphorus and nitrogen.
 
In addition to filing a Notice of Intent, communities must begin meeting a number of permit requirements within the first year – or prior to June 30, 2018. These requirements include catch basin cleaning, street sweeping, development of procedures for winter road maintenance, submission of a stormwater management plan, illicit discharge detection and elimination procedures, and creation of a procedure for construction site inspection.
 
The final MS4 permit is co-issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Under the Baker administration, the MassDEP has taken steps to pursue obtaining delegated authority over the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, the federal program that regulates water quality. The NPDES program includes permits, compliance, inspection and enforcement activities for facilities that discharge effluent into surface waters (such as municipal wastewater treatment plants), as well as stormwater managed by cities and towns.
 
Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation, supported by the MMA, again this session that would officially authorize the MassDEP to apply for delegation, while making technical changes to the state’s Clean Water Act to make it consistent with federal law. Forty-six other states have obtained delegated authority over the NPDES program.
 
Municipal officials who have questions or are seeking resources related to stormwater are urged to contact their regional stormwater coalition or the recently formed Statewide Municipal Stormwater Coalition.
 
The MassDEP’s website has additional information at www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/water/wastewater/stormwater.html#8.