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4 Things you should do now for MS4 compliance and some you shouldn't!

January 19th, 2018 by Nick Cristofori

As you’re probably aware, the 2016 NPDES MS4 stormwater permit goes into effect July 1, 2018 for both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Now that we’re into 2018, this date is barely 5 months away!  Between now and then, there are a few items that you should work on (and maybe a few you shouldn’t) to make the transition to the new permit easier.  See below for more info.

Item 1.  Evaluate Your Program and Budget for Implementation

Everyone knows that meeting the MS4 permit requirements will cost money, but how much?  The short answer is, “it depends”.  What have you done so far and where do you need to go?  If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you would benefit from evaluating your existing program as it relates to 2003 and 2016 permit requirements.  This will help you determine where your gaps are and recommendations for future work.  Once you know these answers, you can determine program costs for implementation, even on a yearly basis.  This is a good first step for virtually any community. 

Item 2.  Make Sure you Meet the 2003 Permit Requirements

Did you know? – There are 3 different bylaws or ordinances that were required under the 2003 permit:

  • Illicit Discharge, Detection and Elimination (IDDE)
  • Construction/Erosion and Sediment Control
  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management

These were required to be in place by May 1, 2008, nearly 10 years ago.  If these aren’t in place now, your community is in non-compliance.  In fact, EPA even asks about the status of each one on the first page of the upcoming Notice of Intent (NOI) Submittal, so they’ll be checking to see that these were met.  If these aren’t in place, your community should be working towards meeting these requirements, particularly the IDDE and erosion and sediment control ones, as requirements for these items are the same under the new permit as the old one. 

Item 3.  Map Your Outfalls (and other infrastructure)

The 2003 permit required that permittees map all outfalls within their regulated area, or urbanized area as defined under the 2000 census.  Although your urbanized area may have gotten bigger after the 2010 census, you are still required to map everything that was regulated under the 2003 permit.  You’re not required to have anything else mapped at this time, you may consider mapping other infrastructure such as catch basins, manholes, pipes, and ditches, as this information will be needed eventually under the new permit.  If you start now, you’ll be getting a head start on permit requirements.  This also has the added advantage of being useful from an operation and maintenance standpoint.  Just imagine being able to prioritize system areas for maintenance ahead of the inevitable spring thaw and rain events!

Item 4.  Work on your Notice of Intent

The NOI is the first deliverable required under the new permit, with a due date of September 29, 2018.  Although possible to complete in the 3 month period between the July 1, 2018 effective date and the September 29, 2018 deadline, it’s best to start before then if possible.  Although drafting the document itself is relatively straightforward, getting all the responsible departments on the same page can take some time, which is made even more difficult during the summer months when people are taking vacations.  Starting this process now will be a huge advantage, allowing you more time to carefully consider what you’ll be committing your community to, rather than rushing through the process during the summer.

What should you wait on?

For now, it’s recommended that you hold off on doing some of the more complex requirements until the permit goes into effect this summer.  Items such as the written Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) Plan and Illicit Discharge, Detection, and Elimination (IDDE) Plan can be pushed to a later date in favor of doing the above tasks.  Also, it’s recommended that you hold off on some of the more complex field efforts, such as outfall sampling and catchment investigations during dry and wet weather until after the effective date. 


If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please feel free to contact me at ncristofori@ceiengineers.com 

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keywords: CEI, environmental, regulations, municipal, compliance, storm water

Posted in the categories Compliance, Stormwater.