Stormwater Permits

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Stormwater Permit Activities 

by John T. Doerfer, Project Hydrologist, Master Planning Program 

A major deadline occurred on March 10, 2003 when all "Phase II" municipalities in Colorado needed to submit their initial stormwater permit applications to the state Water Quality Control Division (WQCD). In addition, the larger "Phase I" cities of Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood were reissued permits for a second 5-year permit term in March. The District assisted its member governments in 2003 with these efforts, and will continue to do so in 2004.

Phase II Municipalities 
"Phase II" municipalities are defined in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as cities, towns, districts, and unincorporated parts of counties within "Urbanized Areas" of the 2000 census. Most of the cities and counties in the District qualify as Phase II entities, with the exception of the Phase I cities noted above and towns with less than 1000 population that were granted waivers (Bow Mar, Lakeside, Morrison, and Mountain View). Other publicly-owned municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), such as school districts and special districts, also had to obtain permits. The District did not need a permit because it does not own a MS4-Board policy has been that local governments retain ownership of stormwater facilities.

The District hosted a series of monthly meetings of the Municipal Workgroup of the Colorado Stormwater Task Force to discuss permit application requirements. These meetings covered the six management programs that a Phase II MS4 will develop, implement, and enforce. These are: (1) Public education and outreach; (2) Public involvement and participation; (3) Illicit discharge detection and elimination; (4) Construction site runoff control; (5) Post-construction runoff management in new development and redevelopment; and, (6) Pollution prevention and good housekeeping for municipal operations. "Measurable Goals" required to judge permit compliance were also included.

Of the 53 Phase II municipalities in Colorado, all submitted their applications on time. Congratulations! 

Phase II MS4s have a period of 5 years to fully implement their programs. The District will continue to provide assistance to its local governments as requested and with the support of the Board. The District plans to hold quarterly meetings in the future.

Phase I Municipalities 
The cities of Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood are "Phase I" MS4s under the EPA discharge regulations because of their population size (greater than 100,000). The cities prepared permit applications in 1992 and WQCD issued permits originally in 1996. The cities have fully implemented all of their original permit requirements. Permits for a second 5-year permit term were renewed on March 20, 2003. 

Three significant changes were made to the permit conditions. One was to shift emphasis from inspection of industrial sites to education of industries. The second change was to revise the Construction Sites Program to be applicable to proposed developments greater than 1 acre (the previous criteria was 5 acres). The third change was additional reporting requirements in the wet-weather monitoring program. In 2003, the District developed a 5-year work plan with the U.S. Geological Survey that is designed to assess long-term trends in stormwater quality for watershed planning.

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