In 1987, the U.S. Congress amended the Clean Water Act (1972) to require a comprehensive nationwide program for addressing polluted storm water. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is the resulting program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 1990, the EPA promulgated Phase I of the NPDES program.  Phase I established a system of permit coverages to address storm water runoff from certain types of facilities and activities that threaten surface waters.  Phase I applied to:

Municipalities with populations over 100,000 (In Minnesota, this only included the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul)

Construction sites disturbing five or more acres of land

Defined industrial facilities ? publicly owned facilities were exempt

In 1996, the National Water Quality Inventory found that approximately 40 percent of the surveyed water bodies in the United States were still impaired by pollution and did not meet water quality standards.  As a result, in 1999, the EPA developed a more comprehensive program to deal with urban storm water runoff ? Phase II. The EPA expanded the program to include:

Municipalities with populations over 50,000 in ?urbanized areas? as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau

Construction sites disturbing one or more acres of land

Defined industrial facilities ? regardless of ownership

Under Phase II, the number of regulated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in Minnesota expanded to 15 counties, and 146 cities and townships. The regulated communities in our area include: the City of Rochester, Cascade Township, Haverhill Township, Marion Township, Rochester Township, and Olmsted County. These new regulated entities can be wholly or partially within a designated Urbanized Area (UA).

Olmsted County has a very limited scope with regard to the MS4 permit coverage as part of the NPDES Phase II Program. The County?s MS4 jurisdiction is located at the edges of the Rochester UA. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) determined that the County was required to obtain MS4 permit coverage for the storm water conveyance system owned by the County in the Rochester UA. This equates to about 80 lineal miles of open road ditch along the County roadways.

What are the regulatory requirements?

On May 9, 2003, Olmsted County applied for a MS4 permit with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), which allows storm water from the County?s jurisdiction of the UA to drain into waters of the state. The permit application identified all of the steps that the County plans to take to control and reduce storm water pollution in the County?s jurisdiction of the Rochester UA. After that, annual reports must be submitted to the MPCA describing the County?s progress in achieving each specific implementation goal. All the County?s identified pollution control measures must be fully implemented by March 2008.

What specific pollution control measures are required?

The MPCA?s Phase II program defines six minimum control measures that must be implemented by the County:

1. Public Education and Outreach 

One public meeting per year

Develop and implement a public education and outreach program for the minimum control measures

2. Public Participation and Involvement  

One public meeting per year

3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Development of a conveyance system map

Ordinance or other regulatory mechanism to prohibit non-storm water discharges into the County?

Develop, implement, and enforce a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges

4. Construction Site Runoff Controls  

Ordinance or other regulatory mechanism to require erosion and sediment control

Develop, implement, and enforce a program to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff from construction activities

5. Post-Construction Runoff Controls  

Ordinance or other regulatory mechanism to address post-construction runoff

Develop, implement, and enforce a program to address post-construction runoff

Ensure adequate long-term operation and maintenance of storm water Best Management Practices (BMPs)

6. Pollution Prevention in Municipal Operations  

Inspect annual all structural storm water pollution control devices

Inspect, at a minimum, 20 percent of the outfalls, sediment basins, and ponds

Summarize the results of the inspections in the Annual Report

Keep inspection records

Provide employee training on pollution prevention and good housekeeping practices