Jul 07, 2015

Weathering the Storm Water

Elisabeth Lisican

Rain, rain, go away has been the mantra in much of the country this spring into summer, and it seems as though every time I look out a window there is a storm brewing. The grumbling here in the Chicago area is a stark contrast to the sighs of relief heard from locals as a few drops of rain fell in Anaheim, Calif., while iWWD’s editorial team attended the American Water Works Assn.’s Annual Conference & Expo in June. As I discussed in my last editorial letter, California’s drought is making waves in virtually every sector of the water industry, and it has both industry experts and ordinary citizens alike worried about the future of water in the Golden State.

Turning back to the annoyingly rainy summer days in the Midwest: Besides keeping kids inside, they’re also a reminder of how important effective storm water management is for ensuring a safe, reliable water supply. These days, following regulations to keep our water safe is critical.

As runoff comes into contact with industrial activities, it can pick up pollutants and transport them to a nearby storm sewer system or directly to a body of water, which can degrade aquatic ecosystems, increase drinking water treatment costs, and impair the recreational use and aesthetic value of waterways. To minimize these negative impacts, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program includes an industrial storm water permitting component that covers 10 categories of industrial activity that require authorization under an NPDES industrial storm water permit for any discharge.

All but five states are authorized to implement the Stormwater NPDES permitting program. Therefore, the vast majority of industrial facilities need to obtain NPDES permit coverage through their state. For industrial facilities located where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the permitting authority, coverage is available under the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP).

On June 4, EPA finalized its updated MSGP to regulate storm water discharge from industrial facilities. The permit’s provisions are largely similar to the expired MSGP issued in 2008; however, EPA made some changes to streamline the permit, enhance environmental protections and improve clarity.

Naturally, professionals of the storm water industry are developing best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate storm water challenges. BMPs can alleviate the impacts of storm water if designed appropriately. Storm water BMPs have a great influence on erosion control, flood mitigation, and water quality and habitat improvement. They may include schedules of activities, prohibitions of practices, treatment requirements, operating procedures, and practices to control industrial storm water runoff.

For those who are interested in learning more about BMPs, permitting and more, there is no better resource for keeping up with the industry than our sister publication, Storm Water Solutions. I’d like to congratulate SWS on its 10th anniversary. What a 10 years it has been for the magazine, and for the storm water and erosion control industry on the whole. I look forward to following the future strides of this exciting and ever-evolving area of water management.

About the author

Elisabeth Lisican is managing editor of Water & Wastes Digest. Lisican can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1012.

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