NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System)

Stormwater Pollution Prevention

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permitting program in two phases. Phase I, promulgated in 1990, addresses the following sources:

“Large” and “medium” municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) located in incorporated places and counties with populations of 100,000 or more, and Eleven categories of industrial activity, one of which is large construction activity that disturbs 5 or more acres of land.

Phase II, promulgated in 1999, addresses additional sources, including MS4s not regulated under Phase I, and small construction activity disturbing between 1 and 5 acres.

In October 2000, EPA authorized the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement the NPDES stormwater permitting program in the State of Florida (in all areas except Indian Country lands). DEP’s authority to administer the NPDES program is set forth in Section 403.0885, Florida Statutes (F.S.). The NPDES stormwater program regulates point source discharges of stormwater into surface waters of the State of Florida from certain municipal, industrial and construction activities. As the NPDES stormwater permitting authority, DEP is responsible for promulgating rules and issuing permits, managing and reviewing permit applications, and performing compliance and enforcement activities.

Town of Sewall’s Point Requirements

The Town of Sewall’s Point is a Phase II MS4 stormwater program and we are required to report our development of a process and procedure for the following under this permit:

  • Reducing the discharge of all pollutants to the “maximum extent practicable”
  • Protect water quality
  • Satisfy the requirements of the Clean Water act.

A major contributor to contamination of our waterways is polluted stormwater. Stormwater is pure rainwater plus anything the rain carries along with it. In urban areas, rain that falls on the roof of your house, or collects on paved areas like driveways, and roads is carried away through a system of pipes or ditches. The stormwater flows directly from streets and gutters into our rivers. Straight from your street to waterways inhabited by fish, frogs and other aquatic animals and plants. When polluted stormwater reaches our waterways, it has many long-lasting, negative effects on aquatic plant and animal life. This pollution also affects other wildlife that uses the water or eats the contaminated seafood. This of course includes humans.

Some of the Potential Effects of Polluted Stormwater are:

  • Sediment and other debris clog drains and waterways causing flooding.
  • Stormwater pollution can harm aquatic life and make fish inedible.
  • Polluted storm water can pose a health risk to people.

If we don’t stop the pollution, one of our most valuable resources – our rivers – could be irreversibly damaged. Please remember ditches and storm drains are not connected to the sewer system. They flow directly into the river. This means that stormwater is not cleaned or decontaminated before it flows into our waterways. Whatever you put in ditches, street drains and on your lawn, goes immediately into our recreational waters whenever there is a significant rain. We must all take responsibility for keeping pollutants out of our rivers.

There are Four Main Types of Storm Water Pollution:

  • Litter – such as cigarette butts, cans, paper or plastic bags.
  • Chemical pollution – such as detergents, oil or fertilizers.
  • Organic pollution – such as leaves, lawn and garden clippings, animal droppings, and dirt.
  • Debris, pollutants and disturbed soil from construction sites.

This pollution ends up discharging into waterways as sediment, sludge and solids. These may be removed by pollution traps and ponds, but the most effective way to reduce this problem is to prevent pollution from entering the stormwater system in the first place. The traps do not catch all the silt or litter, and they do not stop chemical pollutants at all.

What Can We Do to Help Prevent Stormwater Pollution?

  • Where possible, direct downspouts and gutters to drain into plant beds or lawn areas.
  • Decrease soil erosion by planting ground-cover where lawn grass won’t grow.
  • Use brick pavers, gravel, or other porous materials for driveways, walkways and patios.
  • Sweep grass clippings, fertilizer and soil from driveways and streets back onto the lawn.
  • Avoid placing yard debris near storm drains where it can wash down them during
    heavy rains.
  • Remove trash from street gutters near your house (even if it is not your trash).
  • Create swales (low areas) with your landscaping plans to catch and filter storm water.
  • Be a responsible pet owner – pick up after pets.  This will help reduce bacterial and nutrient pollution entering our water bodies.
  • Clean up oil spills and leaks on the driveway by soaking up fluids with cat litter and sweeping up. Avoid washing cars with soap and water and washing it down the storm drain.
  • Pour fertilizer into spreaders over mulched areas not on the driveway where it might wash down the storm drain.
  • Report any instance that you observe of a potential pollution problem to Town Hall.

Other FDEP Resources:

NPDES Program for Construction Activity