A MS4 means a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, and relates to any stormwater conveyance system that discharges into State or Federal waters. Our NPDES permit requires that if small construction activities of one to five acres, and development or redevelopment of five or more acres within a MS4, then certain steps are taken to ensure that the construction does not pollute our waters. The City has its own requirements written in the Land Development Regulations.
The state Stormwater Rule, Chapter 17-25 Florida Administrative Code, was implemented by the Department of Environmental Regulation in 1982. The rule requires the use of BMPs to treat the first flush of stormwater to remove 80% of the annual average pollutant load. A good example of a BMP is the construction of swales.
How It Began
Section 402(p) of the 1987 Federal Clean Water Act required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit program. This program requires local governments to obtain permits for their existing stormwater drainage systems, and for stormwater from certain industrial activities. This includes all construction projects that will disturb one or more acres of land, government owned landfills, power plants, airports, vehicle maintenance facilities and wastewater treatment plants.
Link to NPDES Permit
How Does This Effects the City of Lake Alfred
The NPDES regulations are directed at local governments, which are liable, for the pollutants discharged from their stormwater systems into the waters of the United States. The City of Lake Alfred is one co-permittee in Polk County responsible for developing a long term, comprehensive stormwater program to reduce the pollutant loading from their systems caused by non-point sources. Non-point sources are polluting sources other than direct discharges from factories and industries. Automotive oil and grease, herbicides and pesticides used in lawn maintenance, and runoff from City streets are a few examples of non-point sources of pollution.
The City has already developed an inventory of its stormwater management system. Currently infrastructure deficiencies are being identified and appropriate repairs completed.
Stormwater is rainwater that washes through our property and streets, taking with it any debris that may be in its path. This mixture of rain, debris, oil and waste is known as “runoff”. In the past municipalities, as well as other public and private agencies, worked to get stormwater off the roads as quickly as possible to avoid flooding. Today these same agencies are working to not only reduce and often eliminate flooding, but to prevent pollution by the elements picked up by runoff.
When you pass a storm inlet, do you know where the water goes? Do you think it is channeled to a treatment plant the way sewage is? Think again! Up north, there may still be some existing combined sewer systems, where both sewage and stormwater are channeled to the local sewage treatment plant. Here in Florida, we do not have combined systems. In fact, in most areas of the Country inflow and infiltration (I/I) studies are done to find ground water and rainwater leaks in sanitary sewer systems and repair any damage. Sewage treatment costs money, and treating large amounts of added stormwater would be very expensive.
The next time you pass an inlet, remember that it most likely discharges into a body of water that may be near where you live, swim or fish! Do not add to the pollution problem by pouring anything down the storm drain, and remember that the drain is for stormwater only!