As part of ongoing efforts to improve local water quality and restore the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) today reached a final determination to reissue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permits to Baltimore County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City. The permit for Anne Arundel County is expected to be issued by the end of 2013. These permits cover stormwater discharges from the storm drain system owned or operated by the jurisdictions.
Permit requirements include implementing comprehensive stormwater management programs for addressing runoff from new and redevelopment projects, restoring urban areas where there is currently little or no stormwater management, and working toward meeting stormwater waste load allocations for local water resources and Chesapeake Bay. Also included in the permit are conditions that require the jurisdictions to possess the necessary legal authority to control stormwater discharges, map its storm drain system, monitor urban runoff, and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm drain system.
MDE has met with various stakeholders over the past several years regarding these permits, held public hearings to accept testimony, accepted public comments and has prepared a detailed response to those comments. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved these permits and it is MDE’s final determination that these permits comply with the EPA’s Clean Water Act regulations to control stormwater pollutants to the maximum extent practicable.
The municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits are part of a comprehensive federal Clean Water Act regulatory program carried out with oversight by the EPA and administered in Maryland by MDE. The MS4 permit has the objective of reducing and eliminating pollution from urban runoff, which flows through storm drain systems to local streams, ponds, and other waterways. Specifically, the goal of the MS4 permit is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters, as defined in the Clean Water Act, by controlling previously uncontrolled sources of pollution across the landscape that are transported by runoff or stormwater. Click here to learn more about stormwater pollution.
These permits build on the strong foundation established over the last 20 years since this program has been in place and strengthen requirements for permittees to address the impacts from urban and suburban stormwater. Notably:
- Within the five-year permit term, each jurisdiction must complete restoration efforts for an additional 20 percent of the jurisdictions’ impervious, urban surfaces not currently restored to Maryland’s high standards for stormwater pollution control. This restoration requirement is higher than any other stormwater permit issued in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
- Requires enforceable implementation plans to be developed by the jurisdictions to address pollution limits for all local waters, not just the Chesapeake Bay pollution limit.
- Increases public education and public awareness activities related to trash and other pollution prevention measures.
- Adopts EPA’s new stringent water quality standards protection language that was incorporated in the recently issued permit for the District of Columbia.
- Promotes Green Infrastructure and the use of environmental-site design/low-impact development to capture stormwater, by improving the County’s stormwater management ordinances/regulations and modifying the County’s planning and zoning codes as needed for all new restoration and redevelopment activity as outlined in the Stormwater Management Act of 2007. Environmental Site Design (ESD) as outlined in Chapter 5 of the Maryland Stormwater Management Act is required to be implemented to the maximum extent practicable.
- Requires the jurisdictions to perform comprehensive watershed monitoring to assess and evaluate the adequacy of ongoing restoration efforts.
- Requires screening and assessment to detect and eliminate illegal, non-stormwater discharges into the storm drain, map storm drain systems, and monitor urban runoff.
- Each permit has been certified by EPA as meeting all Clean Water Act requirements.
- Each permit holder is required to submit an annual report to MDE with required report elements on compliance.
- Each permit gives the individual localities the flexibility to tailor their plans to meet local watershed needs.
“Under the leadership of the O’Malley-Brown Administration, Maryland continues to make great strides in improving the quality of our groundwater, streams and rivers, but there is still more that needs to be done. We need to shift the spotlight from the rain and focus on keeping our landscape clean and directing runoff into areas where the water can soak into the ground, eliminating erosion and preventing pollution from entering our waterways. These next generation stormwater permits take bold steps toward cleaning up runoff pollution and significantly advances stormwater controls.”
– Robert M. Summers, Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment
What is an NPDES permit? (EPA)
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