State and Federal Requirements

What is the Clean Water Act?

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is a law enacted by Congress and signed by the President that established environmental programs, including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, to protect the Nation’s waters from pollutants and directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop, implement, and enforce regulations consistent with this law.

The 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, known as the CWA, provide the basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollutants from point sources to waters of the United States.Under the CWA, the EPA has implemented pollution control programs and set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.

The CWA requires anyone that wants to discharge pollutants to first obtain an NPDES permit, or else that discharge will be considered illegal. Section 402 of the CWA specifically required the EPA to develop and implement the NPDES program.The CWA allowed EPA to authorize the NPDES Permit Program to state governments, enabling states to perform many of the permitting, administrative, and enforcement aspects of the program.

What is National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit?

As a result of the Clean Water Act the nation’s waters have drastically improved. Despite the improvement impaired waters are still a big issue. Around 40 percent of the nation’s bodies of water are still considered impaired and do not meet water quality standards.

Polluted stormwater runoff is one of the leading contributors to water pollution. Polluted runoff is usually discharged untreated into local bodies of water. This pollution can be detrimental to aquatic environments, wildlife, and public health. Contaminated drinking water supplies and recreational waterways have a direct impact on local communities.

Mandated by Congress, under the CWA, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Program is a comprehensive two-phased national program for addressing the non-agricultural sources of stormwater discharges which adversely affect the quality of our nation’s waters. The NPDES program requires that local governments implement a certain set of controls designed to prevent stormwater runoff pollutants from entering local waters such as streams, rivers, lakes or coastal waters. Here in GA the NPDES consist of three general permits that apply to different types of municipal, construction, and industrial activities.

These permits require that regulated parties submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the stormwater management program (SWMP) that is to be implemented to prevent the discharge of pollutants into the local environment. These measures are referred to as Best Management Practices or BMPs. As a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) all of the NPDES permit requirements must be met to discharge stormwater. Peach County is classified as a Small Phase II MS4.

What are Peach County’s Requirements as a Permitted Small Phase II MS4?

A regulated Small Phase II MS4 operator must develop, implement and enforce a stormwater management program designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants from their MS4 to the “maximum extent practicable,” to protect water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.The stormwater management program must include the following six minimum control measures:

1. Public Education and Outreach
Implement BMPs to inform public about ways to reduce stormwater pollution.

2. Public Participation and Involvement
Implement BMPs to involve the public in the implementation and maintenance of an MS4’s stormwater management program.

3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
Implement BMPs for identifying and eliminating illicit discharges to storm drain systems.

4. Construction Site Runoff Control
Implement BMPs for construction site operators to address stormwater runoff from construction sites.

5. Post-Construction Runoff Control
Implement BMPs for developers and owners to address stormwater runoff after construction is completed.

6. Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
Implement BMPs for MS4s to address stormwater runoff from their own facilities and infrastructure.

The regulated MS4 must identify its selection of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and measurable goals for each minimum control measure in the permit application.Evaluation of BMPs and measurable goals must be included in annual report to the Georgia EPD.Operators of regulated MS4s must fully implement their SWMP by the end of the first permit period, which is typically 5 years.