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EPA announced on August 4 that it has issued guidance - Urban Stormwater Approach for the Mid-Atlantic Region and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to help states and municipalities improve the effectiveness of urban stormwater permits in reducing water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the mid-Atlantic region. The  permitting approach outlined in the guidance is to provide clarification for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program managers. The guide outlines expectations for issuing municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits “that are clear, enforceable, and consistent with applicable regulations and will contribute to meeting water quality objectives of the Clean Water Act, including waste-load allocations.” The guidelines suggested such improvements as reduction in turf grass fertilizer, pollution trading mechanisms, and adoption of the pollutant loading system envisioned in the program to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The document is being issued under President Obama's May 12, 2009 executive order for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The order directed federal agencies to “define environmental goals for the Chesapeake Bay and describe milestones for making progress toward attainment of these goals.

 

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 (total maximum daily loads); 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 insuring adequate enforcement criteria are in place.

·         State evaluations to determine if previously unregulated sources should be required to obtain stormwater permits.