EPA Anticipates MS4 Permit to be Released in January 2016

On December 2, EPA and MassDep held a briefing at the State House to update legislators on MS4 permits. EPA stated that they anticipate the permit will be released as early as mid-January 2016.

ms4_permitThe December 2 briefing held at the State House was co-hosted by legislators Carolyn Dykema, State Representative for the Massachusetts 8th Middlesex District and Jamie Eldridge, Massachusetts State Senator representing the Middlesex and Worcester Districts. Jennifer Pederson, Executive Director for Massachusetts Water Works Association, was also in attendance.

The draft permit received over 1,400 comments to which EPA is in the process of responding. Key points include the following:

  • Timing: EPA is looking at spreading out the time frames for compliance. The permit will not be effective on the date it is issued; rather, it will likely be effective six months from the date of issue while also giving permittees 90 days to submit as well as providing more time on the illicit discharge program;
  • Requirements: EPA is working to realign their requirements with state stormwater standards;
  • Training: EPA is working on tools and templates to help with communication and required training, and will be holding several workshops when the permit is released;
  • Cost: EPA is looking for ways to reduce costs to permittees and indicated there would likely be different cost estimates in the final permit compared to the draft permit;
  • Credit for Previous Tasks: EPA intends to give credit for tasks that were completed under the existing MS4 permit so that permittees will not have to repeat tasks.

The legislators in attendance expressed their concern over the costs to their communities to comply, particularly since their towns’ estimated costs for compliance were considerably higher than what EPA originally stated. While EPA said that costs could potentially be adjusted once the permit was released, they also affirmed that costs to communities with TMDLs or impaired waters would be significantly higher in order to sufficiently address water quality issues. However, EPA also stressed that the impending permit is strictly for planning purposes and will not require construction of Best Management Practices.

MassDEP noted that they are currently reviewing all changes that EPA proposes to make to the permit. DEP is particularly interested in seeing if comments that MassDEP Commissioner Marty Suuberg had previously submitted on the draft have been incorporated into the final permit.

Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions on the impending MS4 Permit.

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