EPA Finalizes New England MS4 Permit Modifications

Dec 18, 2020

(December 18, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 9 that it had finalized targeted modifications to the 2016 Massachusetts and New Hampshire municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) general permits.

NACWA is pleased with the modifications as they eliminate the problematic “cause and contribute” language and now allow MS4 permittees to seek implementation schedule flexibilities in situations where it is impracticable for permittees to comply with pollutant reductions.

The original Massachusetts and New Hampshire permits would have required MS4s, under strict compliance schedules, to comply with water quality standards (WQS) in addition to the requirements to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable (MEP) as required by the Clean Water Act. This result would have impacted hundreds of small communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and may have established a broader national precedent for future MS4 permits around the country since these permits were issued directly by EPA.

This result comes after a years-long effort where NACWA worked with impacted member utilities in New England and submitted rounds of comments. NACWA thanks its members in both states for their commitment to this case and would like to thank NACWA Legal Affiliate AquaLaw for its dedication and hard work securing this positive outcome.

The permit modifications go into effect on January 6, 2021.

If members have questions please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.

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