Frequently Asked Questions

Several of the required forms for Rule 13 require the signature of a qualified professional. What is a qualifications or credentials must this individual possess?

A qualified professional and the MS4 operator must sign the certification paragraph found in 327 IAC 15-4-3(g)(3), which is also contained in the SWQMP-Part A: Initial Application checklist form. Both individuals must sign the certification, because the roles of each position may be different. The qualified professional is a technical person with knowledge of storm water control technologies and implementation, and the MS4 operator is the person managing the storm water program. The qualified professional and MS4 operator can be the same person, depending on the MS4 operator’s experience with storm water controls. If the two positions are the same person, either the signature can be the same in the appropriate signature blanks, or the term “same as MS4 operator” can be printed in the qualified professional signature blank.

What is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water program?

Polluted storm water run-off is a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of surveyed U.S. water bodies which do not meet water quality standards. Over land or via storm sewer systems, polluted run-off is discharged, often untreated, directly into local water bodies. When left uncontrolled, this water pollution can result in the destruction of fish, wildlife, and aquatic life habitats; a loss in aesthetic value; and threats to public health due to contaminated food, drinking water supplies, and recreational waterways.

Mandated by Congress under the Clean Water Act, the NPDES Storm water program is a comprehensive two phased national program for addressing the non-agricultural sources of storm water discharges which adversely affect the quality of our nation's waters. The program uses the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting mechanism to require the implementation of controls designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by storm water run-off into local water bodies.

What kinds of storm water discharges are required to have NPDES storm water permit coverage?

The NPDES storm water permit regulations, promulgated by U.S. EPA, cover the following classes of storm water discharges on a nationwide basis:

  • Operators of MS4s located in "urbanized areas" as delineated by the Bureau of the Census,
  • Industrial facilities in any of the 11 categories that discharge to an MS4 or to waters of the United States; all categories of industrial activity (except construction) may certify to a condition of "no exposure" if their industrial materials and operations are not exposed to storm water, thus eliminating the need to obtain storm water permit coverage,
  • Operators of construction activities that disturbs one or more acres of land; construction sites less than one acre are covered if the activity is part of a larger plan of development.
What is the MS4 Storm Water Program?

Polluted storm water run-off is often transported to municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and ultimately discharged into local rivers and streams without treatment. U.S. EPA’s Storm Water Phase II Rule establishes an MS4 storm water management program that is intended to improve the Nation’s waterways by reducing the quantity of pollutants that storm water picks up and carries into storm sewer systems during storm events. Common pollutants include oil and grease from roadways, pesticides from lawns, sediment from construction sites, and carelessly discarded trash, such as cigarette butts, paper wrappers, and plastic bottles. When deposited into nearby waterways through MS4 discharges, these pollutants can impair the waterways, thereby discouraging recreational use of the resource, contaminating drinking water supplies, and impacting the habitat for fish, other aquatic organisms, and wildlife

In 1990, U.S. EPA promulgated rules establishing Phase I of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water program. The Phase I program for MS4s requires operators of “medium” and “large” MS4s, that is, those that generally serve populations of 100,000 or greater, to implement a storm water management program as a means to control polluted discharges from these MS4s. The Storm Water Phase II Rule extends coverage of the NPDES storm water program to certain “small” MS4s but takes a slightly different approach to how the storm water management program is developed and implemented.

What Is a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)?

What constitutes an MS4 is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. The term MS4 does not solely refer to municipally-owned storm sewer systems, but rather is a term with a much broader application that can include, in addition to local jurisdictions, state departments of transportation, universities, local sewer districts, hospitals, military bases, and prisons. An MS4 also is not always just a system of underground pipes; it can include roads with drainage systems, gutters, and ditches.

What is a MS4 Permit?

The Storm Water Phase II Final Rule requires operators of small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit coverage because their storm water discharges are considered “point sources” of pollution. All point source discharges, unlike nonpoint sources such as agricultural run-off, are required under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to be covered by federally enforceable NPDES permits. Those systems already permitted under the NPDES Phase I storm water program, even systems serving less than 100,000 people, are not required to be permitted under the Phase II Storm Water Program. NPDES storm water permits are issued by an NPDES permitting authority, which in Indiana is the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

MS4 permit conditions must be satisfied (i.e., development and implementation of a Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP) and periodic reports must be submitted on the status and effectiveness of the program.

MS4 permits are typically General Permits. General Permits are referred to as a permit by Rule. The state promulgated Rule contains the requirements and provisions that must be met by the permittee, IDEM does not issue a permit that is unique to the MS4.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) serves as the application for the General Permit. The permittee complies with the requirements by submitting a detailed Storm Water Quality Management Plan that describes the MS4s goals and objectives to improve water quality.

What are the primary elements that are contained in a Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP)?

The SWQMP includes minimum control measures that cover a broad spectrum of issues that are associated with storm water run-off, these measures include:

  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Participation and Involvement
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control
  • Post-Construction Storm Water Management
  • Municipal Operations Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
What are the penalties for noncompliance?

The operator of a regulated MS4 is required to obtain an NPDES MS4 permit. Failure to comply with the requirements of the permit is federally enforceable, thus subjecting the permittee to potential enforcement actions and penalties by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and U.S. EPA.

This federal regulations also include the right for interested parties to sue under the citizen suit provision of the CWA (section 505; 33 USC § 1365).

Our MS4 has completed the SWQMP-Part C. When should this plan be updated? Are we required to wait until the next period cycle?

The SWQMP-Part C: Program Implementation Plan should be a dynamic document and constantly changing. The MS4 should adapt the plan to address existing or newly identified resource issues. As new technology and other resources are made available, the MS4 may need to adjust their priorities and goals to address water quality concerns within the MS4 area.