Regulating Rainfall in the United States: Lack of consensus delays national “Stormwater Rule”




Note to Reader:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required under a 2010  settlement with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to propose a new rule to  strengthen the stormwater program. The original deadline was September 2011,  and there have been several extensions. Since  EPA missed a June 2013 deadline, it is now in breach of the settlement.

The rule proposal, the settlement says, would “expand the universe of regulated stormwater discharges,” requiring new controls for newly developed and redeveloped sites and possibly even old developments. It could also expand the number of cities and towns regulated as Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) under the Clean Water Act.


Why is EPA taking so long to write a “Stormwater Rule”? It’s complicated

“Environmentalists trumpet the rulemaking as vital for cleaning up U.S. waterways,” wrote Annie Snider in an analysis published by Environment and Energy Publishing in July 2013.

“Environmental groups also contend that the rule is the most important thing the Obama administration can do to boost so-called green infrastructure, which uses marshes, trees and rain gardens to soak up water and filter pollution rather than more expensive concrete structures that primarily control water flow.”

“But industry says the rule stands to be one of the most expensive ever promulgated by EPA, with the potential to chill development across the country.”

“Moreover, businesses are worried about how EPA will deal with the regional and site-specific differences that play a key role in how much stormwater runoff leaves a property.”

“Given the stakes, few are surprised the rule has stalled,” observed Annie Snider.


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