Stormwater Overview

Table of Contents

Green Stormwater Vision

Macatawa Watershed Stormwater Guidebook
Stormwater Permits
What Can I Do?


storm water flooding - Holland, MI

Stormwater is rain and snowmelt that runs off the surface of the land. The storm sewer system, mostly underground pipes, carries stormwater to our streams and lakes. As stormwater runs over the land (especially hard surfaces), it can pick up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil, grease, trash, and other pollutants left on the land by human activity. It is challenging to address stormwater pollution since it comes from everywhere on the land.

The most common way that pollution ends up in our water is through urban stormwater runoff. Since stormwater pollution comes from many different activities on the land, traditional regulatory controls do not always work like they do for industrial pollution. Instead, we rely upon education and outreach to promote individual actions to reduce stormwater pollution. Everyone can take actions to prevent stormwater pollution, either by reducing the potential for pollution or by slowing or stopping the flow of stormwater.

Back to Table of Contents

Green Stormwater Vision

The MACC received a grant in December 2016 from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) to support the development of a green stormwater vision for the Macatawa Watershed. A draft of the vision was submitted to the CFHZ on December 1, 2017 with the final grant report. The vision includes information about types of green stormwater infrastructure, relationships to water quality and transportation, a brief discussion of economics, and a strategy to implement the vision. The document will be updated after review and input from community stakeholders. We welcome review and comments from everyone. Send comments to

Draft Green Stormwater Vision
Appendix C: Conceptual Designs
Green Infrastructure Suitability Guide

Back to Table of Contents

Macatawa Watershed Stormwater Guidebook

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. Their guidebook was designed as a resource for Township Planning Commissions to provide ways to incorporate stormwater friendly practices into local planning, zoning and ordinances. The Macatawa  version of the guidebook was made available to the Townships in the Macatawa Watershed both in hard copy and digital formats. A digital copy can be downloaded below. Contact the MACC office to request a hard copy.

Macatawa Watershed Stormwater Guidebook

Back to Table of Contents

Stormwater Permits

In response to the need for stormwater quality protection, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a phased stormwater control program in the 1990s. Phase I targets large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) operators. Phase II targets about 5,000 small to medium-sized MS4 operators and construction sites (1 to 5 acres). In total, these communities represent about 4% of the land area of the United States and 80% of the population.

The EPA regulates stormwater 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 stormwater pollution control goals as flexibly and cost-effectively as possible. In Michigan, the state permitting authority is the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Several communities within the Macatawa Watershed are small to medium-sized MS4 operators and must comply with Phase II permit requirements. They include the City of Holland, City of Zeeland, Ottawa County, Allegan County, the Ottawa County Road Commission, and the Allegan County Road Commission. These six entities work cooperatively with the MACC to maintain compliance with their stormwater permits. Permit requirements include:

  • Public Education Plan
  • Public Participation Process (included in Public Education Plan)
  • Illicit Discharge Elimination Program
  • Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control (Soil Erosion and Sediment Control)
  • Post-Construction Stormwater Runoff
  • Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping Program
  • TMDL Implementation (Watershed Management Plan)

Permittees work cooperatively on public education and watershed management, but maintain individual program plans for the other permit components. Those program plans are in various stages of updates as of December 2017. Once plans are updated and approved, they will be made available for public comment.

EPA Stormwater
Michigan DEQ Stormwater

Back to Table of Contents

What can I do?

  • Reduce salt use or consider alternative deicers like calcium magnesium acetate
  • Soil test, don’t guess before you fertilize your lawn and garden
  • Clean up fertilizer and grass clippings from driveways and streets so they don’t get washed away by rain
  • Collect rainwater in a rain barrel to use later for irrigation
  • Plant a rain garden or convert turf grass to native plants (they encourage water to soak into the ground)
  • Wash your car or boat on the lawn or at a commercial car wash to keep dirty wash water out of the storm drain
  • Volunteer with the MACC and other local organizations at cleanup events or in volunteer monitoring programs

Resources for additional information:

Cold Weather Care for Clean Water
Pet Care for Clean Water
Lawn Care for Clean Water
Landscaping for Clean Water
Boat & Auto Care for Clean Water
Homeowner’s Handbook
EPA Polluted Runoff: Nonpoint Source Pollution

Back to Table of Contents