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Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans and Permitting


Storm water discharges are regulated by the USEPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program. Storm water discharges from three potential sources are covered by the NPDES permit: construction activities, industrial activities and municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). Most storm water discharges are considered point sources, and operators of these sources may be required to receive an NPDES permit before they can discharge. This permitting mechanism is designed to prevent storm water runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes or coastal waters.

Construction Sites
Storm water runoff from a construction site can transport sediment, debris, and chemicals to nearby storm sewer systems or directly to a stream, river or lake. Chemicals from polluted storm water runoff can harm or kill fish and other wildlife. Sedimentation can destroy aquatic habitat, and high volumes of runoff can cause stream bank erosion. Debris can clog waterways and potentially impact habitat. The NPDES storm water program requires construction site operators engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating activities that disturb 1 acre or more, including smaller sites in a larger common plan of development or sale, to obtain coverage under an NPDES permit for their storm water discharges.

Industrial Facilities
Activities at industrial facilities, such as material handling and storage and some operations, are often exposed to the weather. As runoff from rain or snowmelt comes into contact with these activities, pollutants may be transported off site directly, or via nearby storm sewer systems, to streams, rivers or lakes. To minimize the impact of storm water discharges from industrial facilities, the NPDES program includes an industrial permitting component that covers ten categories of operations. Among these categories, in addition to listed facilities under specific Standard Industrial Classification codes are:


  • Light manufacturing facilities such as food processing, printing and publishing, electronic and other electrical equipment manufacturing, and public warehousing and storage.
  • Metal scrap yards, salvage yards, automobile junkyards, and battery reclamation facilities.
  • Transportation facilities that have vehicle maintenance, equipment cleaning, or airport deicing operations.



In medium sized and large cities and metropolitan areas, storm water runoff commonly is transported through Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), from which it is often discharged untreated into local water bodies. The MS4 is defined as a conveyance or system of conveyances that is:


  • Owned by a state, city, town, village, or other public entity that discharges to waters of the U.S.
  • Designed or used to collect or convey storm water (including storm drains, pipes, ditches, etc.)
  • Not a combined sewer; and
  • Not part of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (sewage treatment plant).

To prevent harmful pollutants from being washed or discharged into a MS4, cities and municipalities must obtain a NPDES permit and develop a storm water management program. These storm water management programs are supported by users of the MS4s, i.e., residential, commercial and light industrial land owners or operators. And although it is the city or metropolitan entity that is assessed permit fees, the fees are collected ultimately from the MS4 users by way of property taxes or utility bills.


Environmental Realty Services can assist its clients to develop a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and obtain a Storm Water Permit, as necessary.

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With environmental expertise built solid on experience, Environmental Realty Services can make a difference in costs to resolve your environmental liability.