Proposed “Stormwater Rule” in United States would establish single set of requirements



Note to Reader:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proceeding with its plan for new municipal stormwater regulations that will change how rainfall discharge is managed in newly developed and redeveloped sites.

In April 2013, the EPA outlined the organization’s pending guidelines for stormwater management via a webinar organized in partnership with the Mayors Innovation Project, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Water Alliance, and the Clean Water, Healthy Cities Coalition. Christopher Kloss represented the EPA’s Office of Water.


Keep Rain On-Site: Requirements for Municipal Separate Sewer Systems

The projected rulemaking addresses a number of key areas of action, particularly the implementation of a specific on-site performance standard in new and redeveloped sites as projects are built. Other considerations include establishing a single set of stormwater requirements for all Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4); and retrofitting existing infrastructure with advanced rainwater control measures.

An MS4 is 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 United States; and is designed or used to collect or convey stormwater (including storm drains, pipes, ditches, etc.).


Encourage Redevelopment in the Proper Locations

“Primarily what we’re looking to do is have stormwater controls incorporated into the development and redevelopment process when we have opportunities to incorporate those cost-effective and flexible controls rather than address these urban areas after they’ve already been developed and the costs are much greater, as we’ve done in the past,” stated Chris Kloss.

During the webinar, reported Art Haddaway in an article posted by WaterWorld magazine, Chris Kloss explained that “while these regulations propose new standards across the board, separate standards should be instituted for newly developed and redeveloped sites to encourage redevelopment in the proper locations. Further, he suggested that these rules should not mandate retrofitting in well-founded areas and that local decision makers should have the ability to set their own parameters specific to their watersheds.”

“In order to do a really effective job with stormwater we need to get out ahead of the problem and start addressing the stormwater concerns as development is occurring,” emphasized Chris Kloss. “So we do want to level this playing field and have stormwater requirements that would get outside the urbanized areas, and address some of these upstream sources of stormwater that are impacting the downstream communities.”

“One of the things we’re trying to do is have this rule be something that’s very implementable that folks feel they have a lot of control over at the local level that makes sense to them,” concluded Chris Kloss.


Mimic the Water Balance: Can the United States Learn from British Columbia?

“The Canadians do appear to be ahead of the US in this field because the US EPA took a really bad approach to Low Impact Design that was based on the premise that enforcing every site to the same standard would somehow fix the problems of water quality in the US,” commented Paul Crabtree, leader of the Rainwater-in-Context Initiative, after he had reflected on a commentary by Jim Dumont on the view from British Columbia.

“The USA EPA approach has done some good, but has several crippling drawbacks: a) analysis of the stream/watershed is not part of the protocol: b) sprawl and greenfield development are incentivized since compliance is easier for those development types: c) the regulations became enormously cumbersome (100’s of pages long) because the premise was arbitrary, not based on good science, and required tremendous negotiations in order to achieve passage: and d) the resultant implementation is usually an expensive quagmire that is hated by all except those who are profiting from it.”


To Learn More:

To read the context for the observations by Paul Crabtree, click on Low Impact Development in the United States: “EPA approach has done some good, but has several crippling drawbacks,” says Paul Crabtree

Also, click on Proposed National Rulemaking to Strengthen the Stormwater Program