Stormwater Permits


Stormwater Permit Activities
John T. Doerfer, Project Hydrologist, Master Planning Program

The past year has been an active time for municipalities in the District with regard to stormwater permitting activities. Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood were required to prepare permit renewal applications for a second 5-year term. The smaller municipalities participated in the state of Colorado’s rulemaking that define the implementation programs required after their initial general permit application in March 2003. The District assisted its member governments in these activities, and continues a stormwater-quality monitoring program initiated in 1997.

Phase I Municipalities. The cities of Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood are classified as "Phase I" point sources of pollutant discharges as defined in the Clean Water Act Amendments of 1987. The three cities have been under a discharge permit since May 1996, which is expires in 2001 and must be renewed. The District has been assisting the three cities to develop their renewal applications. At this time, the cities have proposed to emphasize in the next permit term on their industrial compliance program greater emphasis on education, especially the use of BMPs. The Colorado WQCD regulates industrial permits directly and much of the current activities appear to be redundant. The cities have also proposed to reduce somewhat their dry-weather sampling program. The experience so far has shown that little additional information is being produced from their current activities and the resources needed for this activity could be directed more effectively someplace else.

Phase II Municipalities. During the past year, the WQCD proposed rules that would apply to "Phase II" sources, defined as municipalities with less than 100,000 population that are located in an "urbanized area" as defined by the Census Bureau (areas with more than 50,000 and a population density greater than 1000/square mile). This includes virtually all municipalities in the District. It is likely that Arapahoe County, although it submitted a Phase I application in July 1997, will be permitted under Phase II. Whereas Phase I defined all construction sites greater than 5 acres as industrial sources requiring stormwater discharge permits, Phase II will include those between 1 and 5 acres in size as well.

The state rulemaking was required to adopt the federal regulations for Phase II published December 8, 1999. The WQCD formed a Task Force in February 2000 to develop its rules. The District took the lead by becoming a "Party" in the rulemaking hearings, and was active in the Municipal workgroup leading up to the rulemaking. Many of Colorado’s municipalities participated in this process. The Water Quality Control Commission completed the Phase II rulemaking with adoption of state regulations on December 11, 2000. The District will continue to assist local governments prepare for their permits during the next two years.

Stormwater Monitoring Program. The District has coordinated a water-quality monitoring program on behalf of Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, and Arapahoe County to assist with their municipal stormwater permit requirements. Under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey, a total of five sites on the South Platte River, Sand Creek, and Toll Gate Creek have been sampled for 3 years during storm runoff and snowmelt events. Samples are analyzed at the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. The program is intended to assess long-term trends, and will also provide data for watershed planning and regulatory issues. The program has been proposed for continuation in the next cycle of the Phase I permits.

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