Page 2 Newsletter
Shifting Regulatory Trends
By Adam Frey, E.I.T.
Phase II MS4 Compliance Manager
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, better known as the
Clean Water Act (CWA), established many of the current water quality
permits. The CWA was amended in 1987 to include storm water runoff as
point source pollution and therefore subject to the permitting process.
Aside from those initial years, there have never been such dramatic shifts
“…numeric effluent limits
in EPA storm water policies such as those seen today.
were rarely ever issued or
enforced. That is Traditionally, storm water permitting has centered on the design and
changing.” implementation of best management practices (BMPs). From silt fences to
sand bags, bar screens to seeding, the permits have required various
activities to minimize erosion and enhance storm water quality. Until
recently, numeric effluent limits were rarely ever issued or enforced. That
As mentioned in previous newsletters, the EPA has published effluent
limitations for turbidity on construction sites. It is no longer acceptable to
simply follow the traditional BMP schedule. Once finally adopted,
developers and contractors will be required to monitor effluent turbidity
and take aggressive measures to reduce it.
On June 2nd, the TCEQ adopted eight total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in
Greens Bayou. The TMDLs placed effluent limits for indicator bacteria
from water treatment facilities that discharge into the Bayou.
Additionally, the TMDLs also set bacterial effluent limits for storm water
runoff. This means that the regulated entities which convey storm water
TMDLs are like budgets for to Greens Bayou will need to comply with this new limit. It is unclear how
pollution. The TCEQ sets a goal the regulated entities will be required to meet the TMDL, but it can be
and then allocates a certain reasonably assumed current practices will be unacceptable. TMDLs for four
percentage of the pollution loading other streams in the Houston area are currently in the public comment
to all of the constituents. stage and are poised for quick adoption.
The adoption of the turbidity rule and the bacterial TMDLs are not
unrelated. The EPA, under constant threat of lawsuits from
environmentalist groups, has begun adding definitive, measurable criteria
on the storm water permits. This means increased testing, increased
reporting, and, more than likely, increased enforcement.
We've also made you aware of the Information Collection Request (ICR) for
hinted at requiring new
proposed rulemaking currently in its final phase of public comments. From
development to retain all the EPA's site, "These surveys are designed to inform a rulemaking to
storm water up to a 2- strengthen [storm water] regulations and to establish a program to reduce
year, 24-hour event.” [storm water] from newly developed and redeveloped sites." This ICR is in
response to the 2008 National Research Council report titled "Urban
Stormwater Management in the United States,” which recommends,
Please see Shifting Regulatory Trends on page 3
Newsletter Page 3
among other things, that the permitting program should
focus on the impact of increased water volume rather than chemical
pollutants. If adopted, the old adage "the solution to pollution is
dilution" will no longer be valid. Rule-makers have hinted at requiring
new development to retain all storm water up to a 2-year, 24-hour
event. In Houston, that is approximately 5.5 inches within 24-hours.
These are transformative times indeed. As always, Storm Water
Solutions is on top of each and every one of these issues. We have If unable to meet effluent limits, it
helped our clients transition with these changing rules in the most may be necessary to treat storm
economically feasible ways. We are continually called in to speak to water runoff.
municipalities, engineers, and attorneys to inform and comment on the
regulatory landscape. If you have any questions or issues regarding
anything environmental, we are always here to help.
You can contact Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org
Storm Water Solutions
12200-A Duncan Rd.
Houston, TX 77066