EPA looks to achieve accountability to the goals of the Clean Water Act. Key amongst the existing programs the EPA hopes to reinforce is the nation’s urban stormwater permits. The rule for small urban municipalities to develop plans for stormwater discharges went in to effect 11 years ago this month, however stormwater remains a leading cause of pollution and contributes to flooding and erosion. Not much has changed and with that being said the EPA announced its intention to develop new national stormwater regulations.
Here’s a summary of what EPA is considering changing to the stormwater regulation and some important questions that are being asked around the country. For more details, visit EPA’s web page.
•Expanding the area subject to federal stormwater regulations. EPA staff and stakeholders are asking how best to expand the scope of the permit-geographically extend the boundaries, include new sectors of activity within the permit or develop a threshold for inclusion based on imperviousness?
•Establishing specific requirements to control stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment. To ensure an enforceable permit program, regulation must develop standards that establish a minimum level of performance to drive water quality improvements. What mechanisms ensure accountable stormwater management? Can regulations for federal facilities be applied to municipal permits?
•Developing a single set of consistent stormwater requirements for all municipal separate stormwater systems (MS4s). Will the health of the nation’s waters and administration of stormwater programs be improved if all urban stormwater were managed under one permit or with consistent requirements?
•Requiring MS4s to address stormwater discharges in areas of existing development through retrofitting the storm system or drainage area with improved stormwater control measures. Existing development requirements present a greater challenge than new development as well as great opportunity to make significant improvements toward clean water. How best to address these regulations-should they be phased in and if so, based on what criteria?
•Exploring specific stormwater provisions to protect sensitive areas. Will particular large watersheds within the United States be helped by extra provisions? EPA has chosen to address this question in the Chesapeake Bay. At a series of Bay-wide public sessions and through public comment, EPA recently received strategies from Bay stakeholders to shape the stormwater regulation to best benefit the Bay.
(Source: StormwaterPA / American Rivers)