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 Proposal – Urban Runoff

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

 

Environmental Problem Statement

Resources

Team Members

Progress Report (PDF) (2 pp, 24 KB) September 2006

Behind agriculture and resource extraction, urban runoff is the third leading cause of stream impairment in Region 3, with over 4,400 miles of impaired streams. Nationally, urban runoff is identified as a leading cause of stream impairment, with almost 35,000 miles impaired. Population growth and development will make this issue even more important. More cost-effective and sustainable techniques of dealing with urban runoff are needed, in particular, preventative approaches such as low-impact development.

Under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Operators (MS4s) are required to develop and implement storm water management plans that protect water quality and, where applicable, meet Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Waste Load Allocation (WLA) requirements for discharges to impaired streams. It is sometimes difficult to develop a storm water management plan that targets specific WLAs and even more difficult to show resulting in-stream water quality improvement. NPDES storm water regulatory requirements for small MS4s include the following structural and nonstructural control measures (also called best management practices [BMPs]):

  • Public education (nonstructural)
  • Public involvement (nonstructural)
  • Unlawful discharge detection and elimination (nonstructural or structural)
  • Construction storm water control (nonstructural or structural)
  • Post-construction storm water control (nonstructural or structural)
  • Good housekeeping (nonstructural or structural)

Definition of the Technology Challenge

Many small MS4s have questions concerning how to best achieve their NPDES requirements to develop and implement storm water management plans that protect water quality. The real-world performance of many commonly used BMPs is not known. This team will attempt to answer those questions by performing a study with the following three phases:

  • Conduct a national performance assessment of municipal storm water management BMP programs in impaired urban watersheds.
  • Select a case study site and conduct a field pilot project to enhance existing BMPs for improving water quality. (This relies on existing watershed improvement initiatives and will simply enhance what is already being accomplished at the project site in order to better enable EPA to demonstrate environmental results.)
  • Show environmental results by conducting in-stream water quality monitoring; conduct outreach to MS4s and states about performance.

Other Guiding Principles

The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) requires agencies to report to Congress each year on progress toward their strategic goals. Under GPRA, agencies set annual performance goals and establish measures to determine how well they are achieving those goals. To that end, EPA’s Goal #2: Clean and Safe Water, guides this Action Team as it works to control urban runoff.

Milestones, Actions, and Due Dates

This team intends to help MS4s develop, select, and implement a storm water management plan that effectively addresses TMDL requirements and achieves water quality improvement. The result will incorporate outreach to MS4s and states to educate them about methods and techniques that can be employed to reach TMDL goals and water quality standards. The proposed study would fulfill requirements of Section 303 of the Clean Water Act and 40 CFR 122.44(d)(1)(vii)(B), which requires NPDES permit conditions be consistent with requirements of available TMDL WLAs.

No. Milestone Due Date
1 A national survey resulting in document and assessment of 10 successful municipal storm water management programs in impaired watersheds across the county, 3 of which to be located in Region 3 Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
2 Selection of one of the successful storm water management project locations in Region 3 for a more focused pilot project; augmentation of the existing storm water management program by conducting a focused public education and outreach effort to major sources of the pollutants of concern in order to enhance water quality improvement; identification of other partners to also implement storm water BMPs in order to have a focused collaborative effort to more effectively clean the impaired stream segment Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
3 Determination of environmental results using in-stream monitoring (Due to the great length of time anticipated to achieve TMDL WLAs and water quality standards, interim measures or indices may be used to detect improvement in the first two years of the project.) Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date
A final project report to contain a:

  • Short summary of 10 well-performing storm water management programs across the country
  • Description of the pilot project site and the focused public education and outreach effort and any additional BMPs implemented at the site by other project partners
Data summary and analysis of the water quality prior to and after the public education and outreach
Completion date not to exceed 3 years from start date

Milestone No. Action Due Date
  Conduct national survey and report of 10 well-performing storm water management programs. Month 1–4
  Review proposed pilot project site watershed information; perform site reconnaissance and pilot project site selection. Month 4–6 
Document initial site conditions; develop BMP design. Month 6–8
Install and implement BMPs. Month 8–12
  Conduct in-stream monitoring and develop annual report. Month 12–36
Submit report on BMP performance, feasible methods, and best method to efficiently develop a storm water management program in an impaired watershed. Month 36
Host training and site visit for MS4s and states. Month 36

Required Resources

Study Phase 1 – National Survey
This phase will be accomplished through a Region 3 cooperative agreement with a qualified organization. Region 3 has $75,000 to support Phases 1 and 2. Additional funds of up to $40,000 may be needed to help complete Phase 1.

Study Phase 2 – Storm Water BMP Pilot Project
This phase will be accomplished through a Region 3 cooperative agreement with a qualified organization. Region 3 has $75,000 to support this Phases 1 and 2. Additional funds and partnerships will be needed to complete this phase. Funds required will range from $100,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the level of effort agreed to by all Action Team members.

Study Phase 3 – Monitoring and Reporting
Regional Applied Research Effort Funding (RARE) funding equal to $80,000 was committed to fund this phase. EPA’s Office of Research and Development in Edison, New Jersey, will provide technical support and possible future funding.

Additional Funding
Additional funding may be needed for Phases 1 and 2. Other potential partners or sources of funding include the local county in which the pilot project is conducted, the state Department of the Environment where the pilot project is located, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Alabama, other local universities who are conducting research in storm water BMP performance, and the Interstate Environmental Commission.

Performance Measures

Stream Improvement
Indicator parameters such as pH, conductivity, and turbidity will be monitored and reported to show changes in stream quality. Ultimately, success will be achieved when compliance with TMDL WLAs for selected parameters is met. (This may take several years or even decades.)

Enhanced NPDES MS4s Permit Program Compliance
The proposed study will help to educate state and local governments on techniques to restore impaired watersheds and ultimately result in better regulatory compliance.

See Also

Clean Water Act

Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE) Program

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

 


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