April 19, 2016 Article

Environmental Alert: U.S. EPA Issues Final Storm Sewer General Permit for 260 Massachusetts Municipalities

Environmental Alert

On April 13, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final general permit updating requirements for small “Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems” (MS4s) located in Massachusetts.

Regulated MS4s include cities and towns, state and federally owned facilities (such as universities and military bases), and state transportation agencies (except Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which will receive an individual permit).

There are 260 municipalities subject to the new permit, which will focus on stormwater management of nutrients causing algae blooms, among other effects. To give municipal officials time to budget and plan for implementation of the updated requirements, the effective date for the final permit has been delayed until July 1, 2017.

The Massachusetts MS4 permits, which were last issued in 2003, require implementation of six minimum control measures: the detection and elimination of illicit sewage discharges, public education and outreach, public participation, management of construction site runoff, management of runoff from new development and redevelopment, and good housekeeping in municipal operations. Permittees are required to develop, implement and enforce a “Stormwater Management Program” to control pollutants to the “maximum extent practicable.”

The updated permits include new requirements targeting stormwater discharges to waterbodies with approved Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for bacteria, phosphorus and nitrogen, as well as discharges to certain impaired waters without an approved TMDL where stormwater discharges are contributing to the impairment.

Beginning in May, EPA will hold workshops to help municipalities become familiar with the updated permits.