(4) require objective demonstration by any state opting for an alternative that it is broadly achieving the goal to at least the same extent as states within the program, with appropriate sanctions for noncompliance.
The current federal stormwater regulatory framework has been in place since 1990, and the point source NPDES program under which it is being implemented has existed since 1972. The U.S. Congress deliberately acted in 1987 to amend the federal CWA with the goal of addressing stormwater pollution because it had been identified as a leading cause of surface water impairments, and regulations were inadequate to address it effectively. The total rethinking of the current framework of regulating stormwater pollution described above may require changes in statute and take a long time to implement. Thus, in addition to the longer-term approach that integrates a watershed-wide planning and permitting strategy into the program, several near-term solutions are also offered, with the objective of improving the current regulatory implementation and which at most might require changes in regulation.
The NPDES permitting authority issues (1) separate individual permits or general permits to impose discharge requirements on small, medium, and large MS4s; (2) general permits that require construction activity operators who discharge stormwater to waters of the United States, including those who discharge via MS4s, to implement SCMs; and (3) general permits for operators of stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity who discharge to waters of the United States, including those who discharge via MS4s, to implement SCMs. The MS4 operators in turn are also required under the terms of their MS4 permits to require industries and construction site operators who discharge stormwater via the MS4 to implement controls to reduce pollutants in stormwater discharges to the maximum extent practicable, including those covered under the permitting authority’s NPDES general permits. This dual-coverage scheme appears intended to recognize the separation of governmental authorities. Unfortunately, in practice it is duplicative, inefficient, and ineffective in controlling stormwater pollution that enters the MS4 from diffuse and dispersed sources. Particularly in the area of monitoring of water quality, the dual approach seems to have resulted in a lack of prioritization of high-risk industrial sources and the purposeless collection of industrial stormwater monitoring data or the poor use of it to strategically reduce the discharge of stormwater pollutants to the MS4.
The preference of EPA to use general NPDES permits to alleviate the administrative burden associated with permitting more than a 100,000 point