The EPA originally exempted storm water from regulation by defining it as non-point source pollution.
By 1987, the CWA was amended to define storm water as a point source pollution.
Urban runoff is considered the largest source of storm water pollution.
The current EPA permitting programs do not distinguish untreated sewage from urban storm water runoff.
Common Pollutants in Waste Water
Common Pollutants in Storm Water
Hair Colorant, Adhesive…
Waste Water Outfall
Storm Water Outfall
Phase I permit program began in 1990.
Regulated “Medium and Large” municipal entities that own storm water conveyance systems (populations of 100,000+).
Each Phase I entity was required to obtain an individual permit from the EPA – custom written for their local pollution issues.
Had to address municipally owned facilities as well as private business.
Effective October 1, 1998, the EPA issued a NPDES storm water permit to the City of Houston, Harris County, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) as co-permittees.
This coalition has come to be known as the Joint Task Force (JTF).
Implementation and maintenance of best management practices (both structural and non-structural).
Prohibit illegal dumping and disposal of hazardous chemicals.
Monitor and analyze storm water.
Regulate industrial sites, construction sites, and urban runoff
Educate the public about storm water pollution.
Placed stricter water quality standards for outfalls constructed after 2003.
Required drainage facilities to have storm water quality structural controls installed to reduce floatables.
Required the implementation of a Storm Water Quality Management Plan.
The JTF is the regulator – forcing the public’s compliance keeps the JTF compliant.
EPA designated the State of Texas as an authorized permitting authority in 1998.
All permitting authorities were initially required to implement the Phase II Program by December 2002.
Multiple groups in Texas sued the EPA in an effort to halt the Phase II permitting program. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately sided with the EPA in June 2004.
The TCEQ issued General Permit #TXR040000 in August 2007.
It is a 5 year permit and will be up for renewal in August 2012.
It requires the implementation of 6 minimum control measures plus 1 optional.
The EPA is requiring permitting authorities to set an effluent limit on construction sites of 280 NTUs.
The regulations will effect Texas in 2013 when the TCEQ renews the CGP (TXR150000).
For all rain events less than a 2 year, 24 hour event (~5 inches in Houston).
Any district construction project over 10 acres or any project part of a larger plan of development will be subject to these regulations (treatment plant expansion, park improvements, etc).
Displaced sediment (the source of turbidity) causes damage that requires expensive rehabilitation to District drainage facilities.
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) are budgets for pollution. They define an environmental target by determining the extent to which a certain pollutant must be reduced.
Districts discharging into a water body with an established TMDL will be required to comply with an Implementation Plan.
TMDLs require regular monitoring and may require treatment of runoff.
Notable TMDLs in Place
Houston Ship Channel (Nickel) – 2001
Lake Austin (DO) - 2001
Notable TMDLs development in progress:
Upper Oyster Creek (Bacteria)
Buffalo and Whiteoak Bayous (Bacteria)
Upper and Lower San Antonio River (Bacteria)
Upper Gulf Coast Oyster Waters (Bacteria)
The EPA is collecting information through a required questionnaire to be completed by:
Owners and Developers of Construction Projects
NPDES Permitting Authorities (i.e. TCEQ)
Regulated and Non-Regulated MS4 operators
State and Local DOTs
The financial records and technical data reported in the questionnaire will shape future rule making.
In 2008, The National Research Council released a report calling for fundamental changes to the current NPDES program.
The report finds:
EPA does not adequately account for cumulative contributions of multiple sources of pollutants from the same watershed, because discharges are permitted on an individual basis;
EPA should focus less on chemical pollutants found in storm water, and more on how urban settings increase the volume of water that enters nearby waterways.
Would eliminate individual permits.
Many Phase I and Phase II municipalities overlap watershed boundaries with differing water quality issues.
Regional Water Authorities?
Storm Water Utilities?
By reducing the volume of runoff, pollutant loading will be reduced.
EPA is exploring options to reduce urban runoff volume.