PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new guide for improving the effectiveness of urban stormwater permits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the mid-Atlantic Region. The permits are issued by the states and EPA to local municipalities and other permit holders to control water pollution from runoff.

“Chesapeake stormwater runoff is one of the few sources of pollution to streams and the Bay that is increasing,” said Shawn M. Garvin, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “The guide will help us meet the challenge of controlling urban stormwater.”

The guide is being issued under President Obama’s Executive Order for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Urbanized areas contain large portions of impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops, and parking lots that channel stormwater directly into local streams, rivers, and other water
bodies. Improperly managed stormwater runoff from urbanized areas can damage streams, cause significant erosion, and carry excessive nutrients, sediment, toxic metals, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants downstream.

By evaluating the effectiveness of dozens of stormwater permits, EPA identified several areas needing clarification. In EPA’s mid-Atlantic Region, the reissuance of stormwater permits has been delayed due in part to lack of clarity and consistency on what is expected across state boundaries. The evaluations found that many municipalities’ stormwater management plans are out of date and have not been fully implemented, and permits don’t always contain clear milestones for assessing progress or ensuring that water quality standards for local streams and water bodies would be met.

The guide calls for:
• Municipal storm sewer system permits to address 11 elements for enhancing consistency and effectiveness including post construction performance standards; accounting for discharges from federal facilities; reducing turf grass fertilizer; retrofitting to reduce existing discharges; clear accountability mechanisms; implementing limitations to meet water quality standards and local waterways and Bay pollution budgets (TMDLs); and clear and enforceable action milestones.
• States submitting plans and schedules by Sept. 15 to eliminate the current permitting backlog as soon as possible. The plans will include target dates for consulting with EPA and for proposing and finalizing all permits.
• A similar plan for enhancing field presence, and compliance with permits. By Sept. 15, states must also submit an inspection and audit plan identifying strategies for enhancing inspections, compliance evaluations and audits, and ensuring adequate enforcement criteria are in place.
• State evaluations to determine if previously unregulated sources should be required to obtain stormwater permits.

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