A Roadmap to Massachusetts MS4 Stormwater Compliance

The long-anticipated 2016 Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit, which replaces the 2003 Small MS4 General Permit, was finally signed on April 4, 2016 and jointly issued by the U.S. EPA and MassDEP on April 13, 2016, with an effective date of July 1, 2018. While this date may seem a long way off, it actually affords municipalities limited time to efficiently and effectively determine Massachusetts MS4 compliance needs.

The Time to Plan is Now

Marlborough-stormwater-pretty-300x225In addition to the six Minimum Control Measures included in the original 2003 Permit, the 2016 Massachusetts MS4 General Permit also specifically includes limits to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). TMDLs set pollution limits for affected waterways. These pollution limits represent the maximum amount of pollutant a specific body of water can handle before marine life, wildlife, and/or recreational uses become adversely affected. Because stormwater has the potential to have a significantly negative impact on waterways, TMDLs are a necessary protection measure. Unfortunately, addressing stormwater contributions to TMDLs will require that many communities make some structural and treatment modifications to their stormwater systems, and these take both time and money.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply for coverage under the Permit must be filed to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) by September 29, 2018. The Permit is expected to increase municipalities’ stormwater costs substantially for the duration of the permit term — an increase that simply may not seem affordable to some communities. And, non-compliance is not an option as it brings with it its own costs including the potential for regulatory action and fines.

The best course of action to establish compliance with the 2016 Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit is a proactive, systematic approach. Municipalities should be evaluating current MS4 stormwater measures including stormwater system mapping, best management practices (BMPs), illicit discharge monitoring and elimination, etc., and assessing whether or not they are still in compliance with the new Permit. In addition, municipal stormwater systems should be carefully evaluated for cost-efficient and effective means of becoming fully compliant as well as provided with a proposed 5-year budget for compliance. In this way, small MS4 stormwater systems can approach local government officials with a clear and defendable stormwater budget so that nobody is caught unprepared..

Mid-CityScrap_condition1-225x300Fortunately, stormwater assessments that are conducted by licensed professional engineers, such as Tata & Howard’s MS4 Compliance Assessments, provide a significant return on investment. As part of the assessment, the entire system is meticulously evaluated for the most budget-conscious ways in which to fully meet compliance. Permit exclusions will also be assessed and all previous stormwater work will be documented to establish proper credit. The assessment also provides a well-planned course of action that is defendable when justifying projects and procuring funding.

Key Dates:

  • July 1, 2018: Revised MS4 Permit effective date
  • September 29, 2018: Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply for coverage under the permit due to EPA/MassDEP (90 days from effective permit date)
  • July 1, 2019: 5-year Stormwater Management Plan (SMP) must be posted publically (one year from the effective permit date)

While the 2016 Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit has received critical attention and is likely to increase municipalities’ stormwater costs, it is also likely to significantly increase protection to the Commonwealth’s waterways. The fact also remains that the revised MS4 Permit has already been signed and issued. Therefore, finding a balance between compliance and budgetary constraints must be a priority for all MS4 communities.


Jon Gregory, P.E., Tata & Howard’s Stormwater Manager, has dedicated his career to water environment engineering consulting and has over 18 years of experience in the design, permitting, and construction of water related projects. He is currently working on numerous stormwater projects throughout Massachusetts including assisting communities with MS4 compliance. 

MS4 Compliance Assessments — Act Now for FY18 Budgeting

stormwter_management_outfall_maIn April, EPA issued the revised General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in Massachusetts. The permit becomes effective July 1, 2017, so it is crucial to start preparing now.

Tata & Howard’s MS4 Compliance Assessments help municipalities determine how they already comply with the new requirements, what else must be completed to comply, and how much it will cost. The assessment also provides a well-planned course of action that is defendable when justifying projects and procuring funding. Complete your assessment now and be prepared for your FY18 budget.

We are currently scheduling MS4 Compliance Assessments to ensure municipalities have sufficient time to submit FY18 budgetary requests. Contact our Stormwater Project Manager Jon Gregory, P.E. for more information or to request an assessment.

Tata & Howard has extensive experience assisting Massachusetts municipalities and coalitions with MS4 compliance. Learn more:

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For information on the revised permit, visit https://www3.epa.gov/region1/npdes/stormwater/MS4_MA.html

2016 Small MS4 Stormwater Permit for Massachusetts and Stormwater Collaboratives Workshop a Huge Success

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 2.42.04 PMOn Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC), the Barnstable Coastal Resources Committee, the Cape Cod Commission, and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program hosted a free workshop entitled “2016 Small MS4 Stormwater Permit for Massachusetts and Stormwater Collaboratives.” The event, which was very well attended, was held at Cape Cod Community College and featured several presentations, including the keynote by Mr. Newton Tedder, MS4 Program, Region 1, US EPA, on “2016 Final Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit for Stormwater.” Mr. Tedder, a key contributor to the revised permit, was available for questions. Also presenting at the workshop were Tata & Howard’s Stormwater Manager Jon Gregory, P.E., and Cherry Valley & Rochdale Water District Superintendent Michael Knox. Both Jon and Mike presented on the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition (CMRSWC), of which the Town of Leicester — which includes the Villages of Cherry Valley and Rochdale — is a member. The presentations included information which provided an overview of the CMRSWC as well as specific products and benefits. Congratulations to both Jon and Mike for their presentations, which provided clear and compelling data on the value of a regional stormwater collaborative.

On-Demand Webinar: MS4 Compliance

Proactive Preparation: A Small Community’s Approach Toward MS4 Compliance

The Town of Leicester is similar to many small towns in Massachusetts in terms of the search for funds and resources for compliance with the impending new MS4 Permit.  The Town is currently using a small yearly stormwater-dedicated budget and any free municipal worker time to start proactively working towards compliance rather than waiting for the final Permit to be administered. The webinar discusses tasks ongoing and completed working towards future Permit compliance, as well as available and used resources from a local stormwater coalition, Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition, in which Leicester has been an active member for the last three years.  Topic include components of an IDDE Program, ordinances, good housekeeping in municipal operations, communication with municipal leaders, and collaboration with local stormwater groups. Jon Gregory, P.E., Project Manager, presented this webinar on MS4 compliance. The webinar is approximately 30 minutes.