What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that doesn’t soak into the ground but runs off into waterways. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it may accumulate debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality in the receiving waterbody.

Polluted runoff may impact lakes, rivers, wetland and other waterways in a variety of ways. For example, transported soil may cloud the waterway and interfere with the habitat of fish and plant life. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen (that are often found in fertilizer) can promote the overgrowth of algae, deplete oxygen in the waterway and be harmful to other aquatic life. Toxic chemicals from automobiles, sediment from construction activities and careless application of pesticides and herbicides threaten the health of the receiving waterway and can kill fish and other aquatic life. Bacteria from human and animal wastes can make nearby lakes and streams unsafe for wading, swimming and the propagation of edible fish.

According to an inventory conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of the impaired waterways studied are affected by stormwater runoff originating in urban/suburban areas and construction sites. Stormwater management, especially in urban areas, is the focus for seeking further reductions in pollution in waterways.

Stormwater Contact Information:

The Stormwater Hotline is provided for the public to call and report stormwater quality problems. All calls are confidential and callers will remain anonymous. Please contact us to report any of the following.

  • Actual or suspected illegal discharges to the storm sewer system
  • Foul smells in the drainage system or waterway
  • Unusual colors or cloudiness in a waterway
  • Spills
  • Trash or debris in a drainage system or waterway
  • A leaking automobile
  • Wash-water being dumped on the street
  • Paint in a creek

During the 1990’s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) and created a two-phased national program to address water pollution emanating from stormwater runoff.

Phase I of the program was designed to address stormwater discharges from the nations’ largest cities. Phase II of the program was designed to address stormwater discharges from smaller Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) (or those that are located in urbanized areas with a population less than 100,000). Under both phases of the program, operators of these systems are required to obtain National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit coverage for their stormwater discharges.

Through delegation by the federal government, New York State is administering these program requirements through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The NYS DEC is using two different General Permits as the framework for managing stormwater across the state. The State’s program requires operators of construction sites to obtain coverage under the “SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities”. Operators of regulated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) must obtain coverage under the “SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.

This municipality (or a portion of this municipality) is considered to be a small MS4 and is, therefore, required to comply with the Phase II Stormwater regulations. The Phase II regulations require that a regulated MS4 must “develop, implement and enforce a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the MS4 to the Maximum Extent Practicable (MEP) in order to protect water quality and to satisfy the requirements of the Clean Water Act”.

A regulated MS4’s Stormwater Management Program must satisfy the requirements for each of six required program components, known as Minimum Control Measures (MCMs). These control measures are:

  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Involvement and Participation
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
  • Post-construction Stormwater Management
  • Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

The State’s stormwater program may also require additional provisions if certain conditions are met. For example, if a small MS4 discharges a particular pollutant of concern (e.g. phosphorous, nitrogen, pathogens, etc) to a waterbody identified as being impaired, the MS4 must ensure that there is no net increase in its discharge of that particular pollutant to that waterbody. To accomplish this, the small MS4s must assess pollutant loadings using a NYS DEC supported pollutant loading model. If modeling indicates increased in loading of the pollutant of concern, the stormwater program must be modified to reduce the loading to meet the no net increase requirement

Further, small MS4s located in watersheds with approved TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) allocations are required to implement additional permit criteria to achieve compliance with specific TMDL provisions. In these cases, the MS4 must ensure that discharges of the pollutants of concern are reduced so that the waste load allocation is met for that particular waterbody or watershed. To accomplish this, the small MS4s must assess pollutant loadings using a NYS DEC supported pollutant loading model. If modeling indicates there is no reduction in loading of the pollutant of concern, their stormwater program must be modified to reduce the loading to meet the waste load allocation

A Notice of Intent (NOI) for this municipality to obtain coverage under the MS4 General Permit has been filed with the NYS DEC and summarizes the best management practices (BMPs) and activities that were selected to meet the six minimum measures. A copy of the NOI is provided below. Activities undertaken to address each minimum control measure are further detailed in the corresponding web-pages.

The General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from MS4s requires the development of a Stormwater Management Program Plan (SWMPP) to document developed, planned and implemented stormwater program elements. In an effort to comply with this requirement, our MS4 has developed this website to serve as that Stormwater Management Program Plan.

In accordance with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYS DEC) guidance, this SWMP plan generally describes how pollutants in stormwater runoff will be controlled within our community and/or designated MS4 area. This SWMP plan includes a detailed written explanation of all management practices, activities and other techniques that the MS4 has developed, planned and implemented to meet the federal and state requirements. Information included in the Notice of Intent (NOI) is reflected in this SWMP plan but, it should be recognized that the SWMP plan is considered a separate and more inclusive document.

Our stormwater management program and plan includes measurable goals for each of the management practices and activities we have selected to reduce pollutants in stormwater to the maximum extent practicable. These measurable goals are identified to help the MS4 assess the status and progress of its program.

Other elements of the stormwater management program and plan include: the identification and inclusion of time lines, schedules and milestones for development and implementation; copies of local laws and ordinances; inter-municipal agreements and other legal authorities; staffing and staff development programs and organization charts; program budgets; policy, procedures, and materials for each minimum measure; outfall and stormwater system maps; operation and maintenance schedules; documentation of public outreach efforts and public comments; a summary of construction site Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans and review letters, and construction site inspection reports.

This web-based format will allow the MS4 to easily record, assess and modify program and plan elements as needed. This SWMP plan will be revised regularly to incorporate any new or modified BMPs or measurable goals. The plan will be made readily available to the MS4’s staff, to the public, and to regulators, such as NYS DEC and US EPA staff.

This web-based format was developed through a partnership with the Digital Towpath Cooperative and the Herkimer-Oneida Counties Comprehensive Planning Program. Funding was provided by the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FL-LOWPA).