EPA Reaches Negotiated Settlements Regarding MS4 Water Permits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached proposed settlement agreements resulting from two years of negotiated discussions with members of the regulated community and environmental groups regarding implementation of small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits affecting many cities, towns, and other entities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire (the 2016 Massachusetts MS4 General Permit and the 2017 New Hampshire MS4 General Permit).
The proposed settlements are the outcome of all parties' efforts to ensure that, when fully implemented, both MS4 permits protect the environment, adhere to the Clean Water Act (CWA) and EPA regulations, and address municipalities' implementation concerns. Stormwater is the largest contributor of pollutants to impaired rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, and other waters in both states and the MS4 permits represent an important step to reduce the impacts of stormwater on these waterbodies.
Upon execution of these settlement agreements (or subsequently modified and noticed settlement agreements, as necessary), EPA will then propose and offer the opportunity for public comment on the agreed-upon permit modifications to both the Massachusetts and New Hampshire MS4 permits.
EPA's New England Regional Office issues CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. MS4 permits are NPDES permits that authorize certain discharges of municipal stormwater to surface waters. EPA issued the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit in 2016 and the New Hampshire Small MS4 General Permit in 2017. These permits replaced a single MS4 permit that EPA issued in 2003, which covered municipal stormwater discharges in both states for municipalities subject to the permit. The 2016 and 2017 MS4 permits build upon the requirements of the 2003 permit in order to address the largest sources of pollutants, specifically nutrients and sediment, discharged to waterbodies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
After EPA issued both permits, various parties filed petitions for review: the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, Inc. (HBRAMA), the New Hampshire Home Builders Association (NHHBA), the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness (CRR), the Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship (MCWRS), the Town of Franklin, Massachusetts, (Franklin), the City of Lowell, Massachusetts (Lowell), the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), and the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA). These petitions were consolidated in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Circuit) and then entered the DC Circuit's mediation program. After more than two years, the parties have negotiated the three proposed settlement agreements.
More information on the proposed negotiated settlements: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/27/2019-28014/proposed-settlement-agreements-clean-water-act-claims