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Portage County and PCHD Stormwater Program Overview


Although the quality of the nation’s waters has improved greatly since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, many water bodies are still impaired by pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2000 National Water Quality Inventory, 39 percent of assessed river and stream miles, 46 percent of assessed lake acres, and 51 percent of assessed estuarine square miles do not meet water quality standards. The top causes of impairment include siltation, nutrients, bacteria, metals (primarily mercury), and oxygen-depleting substances. Polluted stormwater runoff, including runoff from urban/suburban areas and construction sites, is a leading source of this impairment. To address this problem, EPA has put into place a program that regulates certain stormwater discharges

In 1990, EPA promulgated Phase I of its stormwater program under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit provisions of the Clean Water Act. Phase I addressed storm water runoff from “medium” and “large” municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) generally serving populations of 100,000 or greater, construction activity that would disturb five or more acres of land, and 10 categories of industrial activity. To further reduce the adverse effects of stormwater runoff, EPA instituted its Stormwater Phase II Final Rule on December 8, 1999.

What is Stormwater Program

Stormwater discharges are generated by runoff from land and impervious areas such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops during rainfall and snow events. Stormwater often contains pollutants in quantities that could adversely affect water quality. Most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is through the use of best management practices (BMPs).

The Purpose of the Stormwater Program

The purpose of the Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) is to protect and improve water quality, stream corridors and public health in accordance with federal and state stormwater regulations. Polluted stormwater runoff is often transported through municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and ultimately discharged into local rivers and streams without treatment. To address this reality, federal and state regulations require the establishment of MS4 stormwater management programs to improve the nation’s waterways by reducing the quantity of pollutants that stormwater picks up and carries into storm sewer systems during storm events. Common pollutants include oil and grease from roadways, pesticides from lawns, sediment from construction sites, bacteria from failing septic systems and carelessly discarded trash. When deposited into nearby waterways through MS4 discharges, these pollutants can impair the waterways, thereby discouraging recreational use of the resource, contaminating drinking water supplies and impairing the habitat of fish, other aquatic organisms and wildlife.

Portage County Stormwater district is required by the MS4 Stormwater permit administered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to develop, implement and support a Stormwater Management Program to the maximum extent practicable (MEP) to protect water quality. The requirements of the stormwater permit are developed and administered by Ohio EPA as authorized by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 6111 on water pollution control and as required by the Federal Clean Water Act. The SWMP must include management practices, control techniques, system designs, and engineering methods and shall be modified to include provisions as Ohio EPA determines appropriate after its review of the program for the control of stormwater pollutants. The stormwater permit applies only to the MS4s in the urbanized area as defined by the 2010 US Census. The townships and Franklin County are each responsible for the MS4s they own and operate.

Requirements for the SWMP are outlined under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System NPDES Permit # OHQ000003. The MS4 Stormwater Permit outlines six minimum measures (MCMs) that a SWMP must address. These minimum measures are: 1) public education and outreach, 2) public participation / involvement, 3) illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE), 4) construction site runoff control, 5) post-construction runoff control and 6) pollution prevention / good housekeeping for municipal operations. The stormwater program shall include best management practices (BMPs) for each minimum measure and a table of organization indicating lines of communication, authority and responsibility. Each minimum measure shall include statements as to legal authority and rationale. The SWMP also overlaps with other partner agencies’ objectives. Franklin County Public Health is committed to addressing household sewage treatment system (HSTS) failures, Franklin Soil and Water and Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission are committed to improving and expanding digital natural resource data available to land use managers and increasing the adoption of green infrastructure practices beyond minimum requirements. And all agencies share 5 the County Commissioners environmental goals, as stated in Resolution NO. 683-06, of ensuring environmental quality in making decisions related to transportation, growth management and economic development, and will practice environmentally responsible growth when establishing policy on land use, infrastructure development, green space and natural resource preservation. These objectives are considered when developing and managing the Franklin County Stormwater Program.

NPDES Phase II Stormwater Program

What is NPDES Phase II?
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) was formulated in 1990 under the Clean Water Act. Phase I of this program was designed to address stormwater runoff from “medium” and “large” municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) serving populations of 100,000 or greater, as well as runoff from construction activity disturbing 5 acres of land or greater. Ten categories of industrial activity were also addressed. 

In 1999 the United States Environmental Protection Agency expanded the Phase I program. The NPDES Phase II regulations include operators of small MS4s in urbanized areas(UAs) and operators of small construction activities that disturb greater than one acre and less than 5 acres. 

Portage County communities affected by the NPDES Phase II regulations include: Portage County, City of Aurora, City of Kent, City of Ravenna, City of Streetsboro, Sugar Bush Knolls, Kent State University, Brimfield Township, Franklin Township, Ravenna Township, Rootstown Township, and Suffield Township. 

Why is it necessary? 
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground. 

Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, unprotected soil, and other pollutants as it moves over the surface. The stormwater, along with the pollutants, then flows into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged (untreated!) into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water. 

A major objective of the NPDES program is to reduce and/or eliminate these non-point source pollutants entering our waterbodies through a variety of methods public education, public involvement, water quality monitoring, and regulatory devices. The ultimate goal is increased water quality. 

What is expected of Portage County? 
Regulated communities in Portage County are required to develop a stormwater management program (SWMP) that implements six minimum control measures using Best Management Practices (BMP). These measures include: Public Education and Outreach, Public Participation and Involvement, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Runoff Control, Post-Construction Runoff Control, and Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping. 

All construction occurring in Portage County will be affected by the new construction site segment of the NPDES Phase II Regulations. All sites with greater than one acre of disturbance will be regulated for erosion and sediment control. This will significantly increase the amount of sites currently regulated, and hopefully reduce the amount of sediment (a non-point source pollutant) entering our streams and rivers.