suite of both structural and nonstructural measures designed to control stormwater and reduce its pollutant loading to waterbodies. In Chapter 6, the limitations and possibilities associated with a new regulatory approach are explored, as are those of a more traditional but enhanced scheme. This new approach, which rests on the broad foundation of correlative studies demonstrating the effects of urbanization on aquatic ecosystems, would reduce the impact of stormwater on receiving waters beyond any efforts currently in widespread practice.
Although stormwater has been long recognized as contributing to water quality impairment, the creation of federal regulations to deal with stormwater quality has occurred only in the last 20 years. Because this longstanding environmental problem is being addressed so late in the development and management of urban areas, the laws that mandate better stormwater control are generally incomplete and are often in conflict with state and local rules that have primarily stressed the flood control aspects of stormwater management (i.e., moving water away from structures and cities as fast as possible). Many prior investigators have observed that stormwater discharges would ideally be regulated through direct controls on land use, strict limits on both the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff into surface waters, and rigorous monitoring of adjacent waterbodies to ensure that they are not degraded by stormwater discharges. Future land-use development would be controlled to minimize stormwater discharges, and impervious cover and volumetric restrictions would serve as proxies for stormwater loading from many of these developments. Products that contribute pollutants through stormwater—like de-icing materials, fertilizers, and vehicular exhaust—would be regulated at a national level to ensure that the most environmentally benign materials are used.
Presently, however, the regulation of stormwater is hampered by its association with a statute that focuses primarily on specific pollutants and ignores the volume of discharges. Also, most stormwater discharges are regulated on an individualized basis without accounting for the cumulative contributions from multiple sources in the same watershed. Perhaps most problematic is that the requirements governing stormwater dischargers leave a great deal of discretion to the dischargers themselves in developing stormwater pollution prevention plans and self-monitoring to ensure compliance. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that the dual responsibilities of land-use planning and stormwater management within local governments are frequently decoupled.
EPA’s current approach to regulating stormwater is unlikely to produce an accurate or complete picture of the extent of the problem, nor is it likely to adequately control stormwater’s contribution to waterbody impairment. The lack of rigorous end-of-pipe monitoring, coupled with EPA’s failure to use flow or alternative measures for regulating stormwater, make it