Storm water pollution is a challenging water quality problem. Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is from a discrete sources, storm water pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites and picks up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil, grease, and many other pollutants. All that water and the pollution it carries ends up in storm drains that are directly connected to our local streams and ultimately Lake Macatawa.
Storm water runoff is the most common cause of water pollution. Because stormwater pollution comes from so many different activities, traditional regulatory controls will only go so far. Education and outreach are key components for reducing storm water pollution. There are actions that can be taken by everyone to reduce storm water pollution, either by reducing the potential for pollution or by slowing or stopping the flow of rain runoff or snowmelt.
In late 2014, the Macatawa Watershed Project worked with a local designer to develop a Stormwater Guidebook for the Macatawa Watershed. The Guidebook was based on one developed by the Rogue River Watershed, located north of Grand Rapids, that was designed as a resource for Township Planning Commissions to provide information about ways to incorporate storm water friendly practices into local planning, zoning and ordinances. The Guidebook was made available to the Townships in the Macatawa Watershed both in hard copy and digital. The digital guidebook can be viewed here.
In response to the growing need for storm water quality protection, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a phased storm water control program: Phase I targeting large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) operators and Phase II targeting approximately 5,000 small to medium-sized MS4 operators and as many as 200,000 construction sites (1 to 5 acres). Several communities within the Macatawa Watershed are designated as a small to medium-sized MS4 and must complete the Storm Water Phase II NPDES requirements to comply with the Stormwater Phase II EPA Final Rule. These size designations were based on the 2000 Census Urbanized Area Map.
The EPA controls storm water and sewer overflow discharges through its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES provides guidance to municipalities and state and federal permitting authorities on how to meet storm water pollution control goals as flexibly and cost-effectively as possible. In Michigan, the state permitting authority is the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
In March 2003, regulated MS4 operators in the Lake Macatawa watershed were required to obtain authorization to discharge storm water under the Stormwater Watershed Based General Permit MIG619000, Storm Water Discharges from MS4s subject to Watershed Plan Requirements. This permit, valid for 5 years, expired April 1, 2008. The 2003 permit was extended through the 2013 permit cycle, which is currently in process. The 2013 permit is being gradually rolled out on a watershed basis over a number of years. The Macatawa Watershed MS4 communities will apply for 2013 permit coverage in 2017.
Communities with Phase II Storm Water Permit Coverage:
In response to the EPA regulations, these communities began developing a plan for compliance in 2000 by creating a Storm Water Committee that was comprised of representatives of all communities in the watershed. Together, this committee worked on developing the application and associated plans required for submittal to the MDEQ in March 2003. In November of 2003, the above communities became Permittees after their applications were approved and they received their Certificates of Coverage for discharging storm water under NPDES General Permit MIG619000.
The Macatawa Watershed Project has been a member of this committee representing the goals of the watershed for water quality issues, in addition to assisting with public education and participation.
Some general requirements of the General Permit include:
For more detailed information about municipal storm water permitting go to the MDEQ Storm Water Website