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Client Alert - MS4 Stormwater permitting deadlines fast approaching

March 2017
Paul J. Bruder, Jr.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requires that municipalities in urbanized areas maintain permits for discharges of stormwater from their MS4’s - municipal separate storm sewer systems.  These permits were last issued in 2013, and run for 5 years.  With 2016 in the books and 2018 fast approaching, urbanized areas in Pennsylvania must get ready for the 2018 MS4 permitting requirements, including those new communities falling under the MS4 jurisdiction for the first time. 

Regulated municipalities must update (or develop, for those first-time permittees) their stormwater management programs to show compliance with the six Minimum Control Measures (MCM’s) designed to reduce stormwater contaminants which ultimately reach the Chesapeake or Delaware Bays, or the Ohio River.  Municipalities are tasked with developing stormwater management programs to ensure compliance with the minimum control measures.  To reduce nutrient and sediment discharges, DEP encourages municipalities to embrace practices such routine sampling and monitoring at outfall locations, and cleanup strategies like sweeping streets, cleaning catch basins, vegetating swales and developing rain gardens. All permittees should also develop and implement a program to investigate the source of any illicit or suspicious discharges that might be found.

The deadline for submitting general permit applications to DEP is September 16, but with the required public participation requirements, the deadline for actually completing a local plan is August 3.  The Local Plan requirement is for municipalities with a water quality impaired stream anywhere in the state and in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in particular (nearly half of Pennsylvania).  Those communities must develop a plan to reduce sediment discharge, or the reason a stream is impaired, by 10 percent over the next 5 years. The MS4 stormwater pollution reduction permit regulation is a federal Clean Water Act requirement, and it helps Pennsylvania meet its obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Program.   

If an MS4 determines that it is eligible for a waiver, a waiver application may accompany the NOI.

The Rhoads & Sinon Environmental Team has counseled many municipal MS4 clients through the application process, and the development and implementation of comprehensive stormwater management programs and Local Plans.  For assistance and guidance, please contact Paul Bruder at 717-233-5731 or pbruder@rhoads-sinon.com.