Update » Posted: Annual Storwater Report (MS4) - 2010
Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground, but runs off. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas, bare soil and sloped lawns.
As stormwater flows, it gathers pollutants including pesticides, fertilizer, pet waste, salt, oil, soil, and debris. Polluted runoff degrades our lakes, streams, wetlands and Hudson River.
Although the pollutants from a single residential, commercial, industrial or construction site may seem unimportant, the cumulative concentration of urban contaminants can threaten the quality of drinking water, damage fisheries and natural habitats, and restrict recreation by making the water unsafe for wading, swimming, boating or fishing. According to an inventory conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), half of the impaired waterways are affected by urban/suburban and construction sources of stormwater runoff.
Usually, the best way to control contamination of stormwater is at the source. It's more expensive and difficult to remove the combination of contaminants that are present where stormwater is finally discharged. Often, significant improvements can be made by employing best management practices — proper storage of chemicals, good housekeeping and other inexpensive ways of preventing pollutants from getting into the runoff in the first place.
The US EPA and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) are increasing their efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act in several ways.
In Phase I, begun in 1990, the agencies began regulating municipal storm sewer systems (MS4) that serve over 100,000 people, runoff from construction sites five acres in size or larger, and ten specific industrial operations. In Dutchess County, the farming community has been working to develop best management practices, such as nutrient management programs, to help them keep their runoff from entering streams and lakes.
Now in Phase II, the regulations are expanded to smaller construction sites and smaller municipal storm sewer systems.
City of Beacon Compliance
The City of Beacon has been designated as an Urbanized Area as defined by the US Census. Furthermore, the city operates a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4), which collects stormwater runoff and conveys that runoff through a system of catch basins, pipes and ditches, ultimately discharging into waters of the United States.
As of March 2003, the federal Phase II stormwater program has required operators of MS4s in urbanized areas to obtain State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit coverage for the stormwater discharges under their jurisdiction and control.
In order to maintain conformance with the Phase II program and the SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from MS4s, the city must comply with six minimum control measures that serve as the basis for this permit. These six minimum measures are:
- » Public Education and Outreach
- » Public Involvement/Participation
- » Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE)
- » Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
- » Post-Construction Stormwater Management
- » Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
This compliance required the city to adopt two local laws to prohibit illicit discharges, activities and connections to the storm sewer system, and to regulate land development activities by stipulating the implementation of stormwater management standards in site design.
A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) is the central document of a development plan's stormwater management design. The city's local law amended the site plan and subdivision regulations to require a SWPPP and the law includes sections that outline the requirements and components of a SWPPP. The General Permit also requires the City of Beacon to develop a Stormwater Management Program Plan (SWMP plan) that addresses how the regulated MS4 will comply with all six minimum control measures.
Stormwater Resources Online
- » NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
- » US EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
- » Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation District — an organization set up in 1945 to coordinate State and Federal conservation programs
- » Dutchess Watersheds Online — a collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension and Vassar College
- » Center for Watershed Protection — a partnership of agencies, organizations, corporations, and local governments for responsible watershed management