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Stormwater Pollution Prevention in Utah.

Stormwater pollution prevention is the practice of reducing or eliminating the discharge of pollutants from stormwater runoff to the waters of the state. Stormwater runoff is water that flows over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, during rainfall or snowmelt events. Stormwater runoff can pick up and carry pollutants, such as sediment, metals, oil, grease, chemicals, and bacteria, from various sources, such as construction sites, industrial facilities, agricultural lands, and urban areas. These pollutants can harm the water resources and the environment if they are not properly managed and controlled.

Stormwater pollution prevention is important for Utah because the state has many valuable and sensitive water resources, such as lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and groundwater, that provide drinking water, irrigation, recreation, wildlife habitat, and scenic beauty. Stormwater pollution prevention is also important for Utah because the state has many challenges and opportunities for stormwater management, such as arid climate, variable precipitation, rapid population growth, urban development, transportation infrastructure, and water conservation.

Stormwater pollution prevention in Utah has a long and evolving history that reflects the changing needs and priorities of the state and its stakeholders. The following is a brief overview of the history of stormwater pollution prevention in Utah:

  • In 1972, the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted, which established the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program to regulate point source discharges of pollutants to waters of the U.S., including stormwater.

  • In 1987, the CWA was amended to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a phased approach to regulate stormwater discharges under the NPDES permit program. The first phase (Phase I) covered stormwater discharges from large and medium municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), industrial activities, and construction activities that disturb five acres or more of land. The second phase (Phase II) covered stormwater discharges from small MS4s, industrial activities not covered by Phase I, and construction activities that disturb one acre or more of land, or that are part of a larger common plan of development that disturbs one acre or more of land.

  • In 1987, the State of Utah was granted primacy of the NPDES program, known as the Utah Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (UPDES) permit program, by the EPA. The UPDES permit program is administered by the Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ), which issues general and individual permits for stormwater discharges from various sources, such as MS4s, industrial facilities, and construction sites.

  • In 1990, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from industrial activities, known as the Industrial General Storm Water Permit (IGP). The IGP requires the industrial facilities to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP), to apply for coverage under the IGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the site, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the IGP conditions.

  • In 1992, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from construction activities, known as the Construction General Storm Water Permit (CGP). The CGP requires the construction sites to develop and implement a SWPPP, to apply for coverage under the CGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the site, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the CGP conditions.

  • In 1999, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from MS4s, known as the MS4 General Storm Water Permit (MGP). The MGP requires the MS4 operators to develop and implement a stormwater management program (SWMP), to apply for coverage under the MGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the system, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the MGP conditions.

  • In 2003, the Utah Storm Water Advisory Committee (USWAC) was formed to address a variety of stormwater issues statewide, such as Phase I and Phase II implementation, underground injection wells for stormwater, stormwater treatment design criteria, and stormwater education. The USWAC is composed of representatives from various entities, such as the DWQ, the EPA, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the Utah Association of Counties, the Utah Home Builders Association, the Utah Water Quality Board, and the public.

  • In 2007, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from small MS4s, known as the Small MS4 General Storm Water Permit (SGP). The SGP requires the small MS4 operators to develop and implement a SWMP, to apply for coverage under the SGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the system, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the SGP conditions.

  • In 2012, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from construction activities that disturb one acre or more of land, or that are part of a larger common plan of development that disturbs one acre or more of land, known as the Construction General Permit (CGP). The CGP requires the construction sites to develop and implement a SWPPP, to apply for coverage under the CGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the site, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the CGP conditions.

  • In 2016, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from industrial activities that are not covered by the IGP, known as the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). The MSGP requires the industrial facilities to develop and implement a SWPPP, to apply for coverage under the MSGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the site, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the MSGP conditions.

  • In 2019, the DWQ issued the first UPDES general permit for stormwater discharges from construction activities that are located within a sensitive area, such as a watershed, a wetland, or a floodplain, known as the Sensitive Area Construction General Permit (SACGP). The SACGP requires the construction sites to develop and implement a SWPPP, to apply for coverage under the SACGP, to conduct regular inspections and maintenance of the site, to monitor and report the stormwater discharges, and to comply with the SACGP conditions.

The UPDES permit program regulates stormwater discharges from three main categories: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), industrial facilities, and construction sites. MS4s are public-owned systems that collect and convey stormwater runoff, such as streets, gutters, ditches, and storm drains. Industrial facilities are facilities that conduct industrial activities that are associated with stormwater runoff, such as manufacturing, processing, mining, and transportation. Construction sites that are regulated are sites that disturb one acre or more of land, or that are part of a larger common plan of development that disturbs one acre or more of land, for the purpose of building, clearing, grading, or excavating.

The UPDES permit program requires the operators of MS4s, industrial facilities, and construction sites to obtain a permit for their stormwater discharges, and to develop and implement a stormwater management plan or program that describes how they will prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants from their stormwater runoff. The stormwater management plan or program typically includes the following elements:

  • A site map that shows the location and boundaries of the site, the drainage areas, the stormwater conveyance systems, the stormwater control measures, and the receiving waters.

  • A description of the activities, processes, materials, products, wastes, and potential sources of pollutants.

  • A description of the stormwater control measures, such as the structural and non-structural practices, the best management practices (BMPs), the pollution prevention techniques, and the spill prevention and response procedures.

  • A description of the inspection and maintenance procedures, such as the frequency, the methods, the records, and the corrective actions.

  • A description of the monitoring and reporting requirements, such as the sampling, the analysis, the documentation, and the submission.

The stormwater management plan or program is intended to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the site and protect the water resources and the environment. The stormwater management plan or program is a proactive and preventive plan or program that requires the site operator to implement and maintain the stormwater control measures and comply with the permit conditions.

The UPDES permit program also provides guidance, assistance, and education to the regulated entities and the public on stormwater pollution prevention and best management practices. The UPDES permit program works in collaboration with other state and local agencies, such as the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Salt Lake County Stormwater Coalition (SLCSC), and the Utah Storm Water Advisory Committee (USWAC), to address a variety of stormwater issues statewide, such as Phase I and Phase II implementation, underground injection wells for stormwater, stormwater treatment design criteria, and stormwater education1.

Stormwater pollution prevention is a shared responsibility that involves the participation and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the government, the industry, the developers, the contractors, the homeowners, and the public. Stormwater pollution prevention is a matter of environmental stewardship and social responsibility that benefits the water resources and the environment for the present and the future generations. Stormwater pollution prevention is a matter of compliance and performance that requires the implementation and maintenance of the stormwater management plan or program and the permit conditions.

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