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Stormwater Regulations for Operational Facilities

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How facilities are managed in the District of Columbia has an enormous impact on our local streams and rivers. Rain and runoff can carry pollutants from lawns, lots, and outdoor storage into storm drains that flow directly into Rock Creek and the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

In the District of Columbia three agencies have permitting authority under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for facility operations. These agencies manage stormwater and have the authority to issue permits and fines to facilities. Facilities are required to obtain stormwater permits prior to the start of operations.

To find out which agency regulates a facility, follow these three steps below:

Step 1. Determine to which sewer system a facility drains. Visit this map and search by address.

Pay attention to nearby boundaries! Operations near the border between the Combined (CSS) and the municipal separate storm water (MS4) Sewer Systems should be especially careful to identify where runoff flows. Some facilities are located in one sewer system but drain to the other.

Step 2. Determine if facility operations are considered “industrial.” For facility operations in the MS4 the EPA defines industrial activities in the Multi Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Industrial Activities. Refer to Appendix D for a list of industrial activities or the more detailed list in Appendix N.

Hint: “Industrial” is not always obvious. For instance, auto repair shops are industrial if they service passenger transportation vehicles, such as taxis and tour buses, but not if they only service privately owned vehicles.

Step 3. Use the following flow chart to determine which agency is a facility’s regulating authority:
SW Regs Flow Chart

Authorities: Once the regulating authority has been identified, read more about the agency’s permitting and enforcement efforts below.

Share a facility? Stormwater regulations apply to operators, not facilities. If a facility is shared by multiple operators each operator is expected to adhere by the stormwater regulations that apply to their operations, including obtaining permit coverage separately.

Permiting Authority Details

District of Columbia Government. District Government has authority over the MS4 areas through its NPDES District MS4 Permit. DOEE is responsible for overseeing the permit’s implementation. Facilities may be subject to inspections and fines.

The District MS4 Permit identifies types of facilities that are at greater risk of causing stormwater pollution, called Critical Sources. These facilities are inspected regularly and include: automotive repair facilities, fueling stations, and wash facilities, dry cleaners, and any other facility the District has identified as a Critical Source.

DC Water DC Water. DC Water has authority over the CSS through the NPDES Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Permit. Facilities may need to apply for permits to discharge process wastewater or contaminated groundwater and other activities, especially if they are industrial. Details can be found on DC Water’s website: dcwater.com

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA has authority over industrial facilities within the MS4 areas. Facilities will need a NPDES permit. EPA has simplified the process with the Multi Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities (MSGP). Facilities can apply to be covered under the MSGP or apply for an individual permit, which is a longer, more complex process. To apply for coverage under the MSGP, submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the EPA.

All activities are inside? Even if industrial activities are conducted inside or where they are not exposed to stormwater, operators still need coverage and will have to submit a Conditional “No Exposure” Exclusion (NOE) to EPA under the MSGP.

Illicit Discharges. Under the DC Water Pollution Control Act and the federal Clean Water Act it is illegal to allow pollutants to drain into the MS4 or directly into waterways. This is called an illicit discharge. Anything with the potential to alter the water quality in waterways is considered a pollutant, including wash water, grey water, oils, dirt, litter, and even chemicals in drinking water like chlorine that may be harmful to fish and other living organisms. No amounts of any of these substances may be disposed of or washed into a storm drain, and accidental releases must be minimized.

Call 911 to report spills. This allows responders to contain and remove the product before it enters District waterways. Broken water mains and sewer pipes should be reported to DC Water at (202) 612-3400, at dcwater.com, or on Twitter by sending a tweet to @dcwater.

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

All facilities are encouraged to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan, but these plans are required for industrial facilities in the MS4 areas of the District and strongly recommended for Critical Sources.

A SWPPP identifies an operation’s potential sources of pollution and outlines how the operator will prevent the deliberate or accidental releases of pollution. A SWPPP is expected to be regularly updated to accurately reflect current efforts. Main SWPPP elements include:

  1. Information on the people responsible for SWPPP implementation
  2. Description of the operations and site map describing stormwater flow and location of potential pollutant sources
  3. Summary of potential sources of pollution
  4. Description of control measures that prevent stormwater pollution
  5. Schedules and procedures for implementing the control measures
  6. Signature of a responsible party certifying the SWPPP is accurate

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