Regulating Rainfall in the United States: Why is the EPA taking so long to write the “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.


Image Credit: WaterWorld Magazine


Waiting for the Stormwater Rule

The Chesapeake Bay settlement says the Stormwater Rule 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.

The proposed Stormwater Rule would address 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 MS4s.


More Emphasis on Green Infrastructure

“If you were waiting for the new national stormwater rule to  be issued last month, you’ve probably noticed that, like Godot, it once again  failed to arrive. The question—this time, as with past deadlines—is what  happens next,” wrote Janice Kaspersen, editor of Stormwater Magazine, in her blog on July  9, 2013.

“The rule is expected to place more emphasis  on using green infrastructure, as well as on using retrofits to address  stormwater discharge on already-developed sites.”


Impact of Court Decisions?

“One of the biggest obstacles to developing a workable rule  is, not surprisingly, its potential cost.”

“There is also speculation how decisions that have been  handed down while the rule is being worked on—such as a Virginia case  earlier this year, in which  a federal court ruled that EPA had exceeded its authority with regard to  stormwater—might ultimately affect the new rule.”

“Difficult as  it is to put all the parts together, and despite the inevitable objections from  multiple sides, EPA will need to put something out soon so that all sides are  at least debating a specific proposal rather than speculating on its content,” concludes Janice Kaspersen.


To Learn More:

To download and read the complete article by Janice Kaspersen, click on Waiting for the Stormwater Rule.