Storm Water Permitting Program Update to the Regional Tribal Operating Committee | Region 10 | US EPA

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Storm Water Permitting Program Update to the Regional Tribal Operating Committee

The following information was provided to the RTOC meeting on March 11, 2003, at the Crowne Plaza in Seattle, Washington.

Update on the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits
for Storm Water Discharges in Indian Country:
Permit Requirements for Discharges from Construction Activity
March 2003

Storm runoff is a main source of pollution to surface water. Controlling pollutants carried by storm run off is necessary to reduce adverse water quality and aquatic habitat impacts. The federal Clean Water Act requires certain storm water discharges to surface water to be permitted by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permit program.

Consultation Efforts
NPDES permits are currently issued by EPA-Region 10 for sources located within the states of Idaho, and Alaska, and on tribal lands (or discharging to tribal waters) within the states of Oregon and Washington.

Using the Region 10 Office of Water NPDES Permits Unit Consultation Policy, the Region 10 Office of Water invited interested Northwest tribes in October 2002 to consult on upcoming storm water permit issues and to provide information regarding the activities covered by the storm water permit program. To date, representatives of fourteen tribes and villages have expressed interest in the development of storm water permits, and received preliminary draft permits for review and comment. Staff-to-staff meetings, telephone calls and email have been used by EPA to notify tribes of updated information, request comments, answer questions and address concerns.

EPA has also requested those tribes with approved Tribal Water Quality Standards (i.e, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Puyallup and Chehalis) to provide Section 401 certification on the draft Construction General Permit.

General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Large and Small Construction Activity
EPA proposed a draft Construction General Permit (CGP) in December 2002, and asked for public comment through February 13, 2003. EPA is in the process of revising the permit based on public comment, and will reissue the CGP in Spring 2003.

The permit requires construction operators to utilize appropriate erosion, sediment and chemical controls during construction to prevent the discharge of pollutants to surface water.

Interim Construction Permitting Requirements

Other Upcoming Storm Water Permitting Topics

* Revisions to the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activity
* Issuing a new General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems

For 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


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 silviculture/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 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 water bodies, 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.

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.

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