Storm Water: Tribal Consultation Fact Sheet
Government-to-Government Consultation on the
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits
for Storm Water Discharges in Indian Country
In an effort to meet our Tribal consultation commitment, U.S. EPA Region 10 invites all interested Tribes to consult on three upcoming national storm water permitting actions to be developed by EPA-Headquarters over the next several months.
Tribal staff who are interested in discussing these actions are asked to notify EPA-Region 10 of your interest to be involved by contacting Misha Vakoc, EPA Region 10 Storm Water Coordinator, at (800) 424-4372, extension 6650, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than November 10, 2002. Additional information can be found on EPA’s Tribal Website, www.epa.gov/r10earth (once there, click on “Tribes” then “Latest Information”).
Responding to requests, EPA Region 10 had provided preliminary draft documents to twelve Tribal water quality program contacts as of October 28, 2002.
As required by the federal Clean Water Act, storm water discharges to surface water from various sources are regulated through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permits.
Phase I of the storm water program was promulgated in 1990 (55 FR 47990, November 16, 1990), and requires permits for discharges from large municipalities and industry (including construction disturbing five or more acres of land).
Phase II storm water regulations were finalized in 1999 (64 FR 68722, December 8, 1999), and now also require permits for discharges from smaller municipalities and smaller construction sites disturbing one to five acres.
EPA is in the preliminary stages of drafting three different permit actions to reissue or modify existing permits, and develop a new permit that allows storm water discharges from the activities addressed by the regulations.
Each of the upcoming actions are NPDES general permits, addressing a specific category of activity and the associated storm water discharges from that activity. NPDES general permits are a cost-effective option for providing permit coverage to a large number of facilities or applicants. EPA’s storm water discharge permits apply in all areas where EPA is the NPDES permitting authority, including on all Tribal reservation land in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, and throughout the State of Alaska. Below is a brief description of the upcoming actions:
General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction Activity: EPA plans to reissue the current Construction General Permit, which currently applies to all construction activity disturbing five or more acres and which expires on February 17, 2003. In accordance with the Phase II storm water regulations, the reissued permit will expand the storm water permit requirements to include all construction activity disturbing one or more acres of land. EPA Headquarters plans to publish a draft permit as early as the end of October 2002, initiating the formal public comment period.
Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activity: Later in 2002, EPA will propose to modify the existing MSGP, which was issued on October 30, 2000 to regulate storm water from 29 different sectors of industry. This permit modification will revise the requirements for storm water discharges to impaired waterways, and to those waters with EPA-approved Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) analyses.
General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems: EPA’s Phase II regulations require that operators of certain small municipal storm sewer systems develop a Storm Water Management Plan to minimize the discharge of pollutants via storm water to the maximum extent practical. This new permit will likely affect any storm water discharges from Tribally-owned municipal areas which are geographically located near larger urban cities.
These NPDES storm water permit actions have not yet been released to the general public; EPA can provide you with copies of preliminary draft versions or existing storm water permits upon request. EPA intends to announce the availability of the draft documents and initiate formal public comment periods as appropriate in late Fall 2002.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the Benefits of these Storm Water Permits?
Storm runoff is a main source of pollution to surface water. The NPDES storm water discharge permits are intended to reduce or eliminate adverse impacts to water quality and aquatic habitat by instituting the use of controls on the specific sources of storm water discharges that have the greatest likelihood of causing continued environmental degradation.
Is Runoff from Agricultural or Timber Harvest Activities Regulated through These Actions?
No. The Clean Water Act does not regulate runoff from agricultural or silvicultural/timber activities. However, if a particular property is being converted from forestry or farming to any other use (such as to build a residence or permanent access road) the storm water discharge permitting requirements apply.
Why are Storm Water Discharges from Urban Areas a Problem?
Storm water discharges from highly urbanized areas are a concern because of the high concentration of pollutants found in these discharges. Concentrated development in urbanized areas substantially increases impervious surfaces, such as city streets, parking lots, and sidewalks, on which pollutants from concentrated human activities settle and remain until a storm event washes them into nearby storm drains. Common pollutants include pesticides, fertilizers, oils, salt, litter and other debris, and sediment. Another concern is the possible illicit connections of sanitary sewers, which can result in fecal coliform bacteria entering the storm sewer system. Storm water runoff picks up and transports these and other harmful pollutants then discharges them – untreated – to waterways via storm sewer systems. When left uncontrolled, these discharges can result in fish kills, the destruction of spawning and wildlife habitats, a loss in aesthetic value, and contamination of drinking water supplies and recreational waterways that can threaten public health.
Why are Storm Water Discharges from Construction Activity a Problem?
Uncontrolled runoff from construction sites is a water quality concern because of the devastating effects that sedimentation can have on local waterbodies, particularly small streams. Numerous studies have shown that the amount of sediment transported by storm water runoff from construction sites with no controls is significantly greater than from sites with controls. In addition to sediment, construction activities yield pollutants such as pesticides, petroleum products, construction chemicals, solvents, asphalts, and acids that can contaminate storm water runoff. During storms, construction sites may be the source of sediment-laden runoff, which can overwhelm a small stream channel's capacity, resulting in streambed scour, streambank erosion, and destruction of near-stream vegetative cover. Where left uncontrolled, sediment-laden runoff has been shown to result in the loss of in-stream habitats for fish and other aquatic species, an increased difficulty in filtering drinking water, the loss of drinking water reservoir storage capacity, and negative impacts on the navigational capacity of waterways.
For More Information
If you would like more information, please contact Misha Vakoc,(800) 424-4372, ext.6650
or Jeanne O’Dell, (800) 424-4372, ext. 6919
EPA Region 10 Storm Water Program
1200 6th Avenue (OW-130)
Seattle, WA 98101
www.epa.gov/r10earth (once there, click on “Tribes” then “Latest Information”)