WSR 06-04-097


[ Filed February 1, 2006, 10:50 a.m. ]


Announcing public comment period and formal draft for the reissued Municipal Stormwater Phase I General Permit

The department of ecology (ecology) is issuing a draft general permit to cover municipal stormwater. The title of the draft permit is "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and State Waste Discharge General Permit for Discharges from Large and Medium Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewers." The permit is also referred to as the "Phase I Municipal

Stormwater Permit," or the "Phase I Permit."

Background: In 1987, Congress amended the Clean Water Act to include stormwater discharges in the national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit program. Under these amendments, permits for large and medium municipal separate storm sewer systems are required. Ecology issued the first Phase I municipal stormwater permits in 1995. These permits expired in 2000; however, they remain in effect until ecology issues the new permit. The 1995 Phase I Permits cover cities and counties by watershed regions. The permits cover the cities of Seattle and Tacoma and King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Storm sewer systems operated by the Washington state department of transportation which are located in the cities of Seattle and Tacoma and the unincorporated areas of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are also covered by the Phase I Permit. In 1999, ecology issued an individual Phase I municipal stormwater permit to cover Clark County. Ecology proposes to reissue permit coverage for the 1995 general permits and Clark County's individual permit through the permit announced in this notice.

What is being regulated by this permit and who is affected? The Phase I Permit regulates discharges to waters of the state from municipal separate storm sewer systems.

A municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) is a conveyance or system of conveyances including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, and/or storm drains which is:

1. Owned or operated by a city, town, county, district, association, or other public body created pursuant to state law having jurisdiction over disposal of sewage, industrial wastes, stormwater, or other wastes, including special districts under state law such as sewer districts, flood control districts or drainage districts, or similar entity;

2. Designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater;

3. Not a combined sewer system; and

4. Not part of a publicly owned treatment works (POTW) (see 40 C.F.R. 122.2).

This proposed Phase I municipal stormwater permit will apply to the cities of Seattle and Tacoma and the unincorporated areas of Clark, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. This permit will also apply to special purpose districts located within those jurisdictions.

A special purpose district is subject to this permit if the district:

1. Is a public entity;

2. Is located within or partially within the cities of Seattle or Tacoma or the unincorporated area of Clark, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties; and

3. Owns or operates a stormdrain system that discharges to surface waters.

Special purpose districts that could be subject to this permit include public ports (including the ports of Tacoma and Seattle), irrigation districts, diking and drainage districts, flood control districts, public schools, public universities, and state agencies. Ecology will regulate special purpose districts subject to this permit as secondary permittees. Secondary permittees will generally have reduced permit requirements.

This permit will not apply to municipal separate storm sewers systems owned or operated by the Washington state department of transportation (WSDOT). Ecology will issue a separate permit to cover WSDOT.

Purpose of the permit: Federal and state water quality laws require a permit for the discharge of stormwater (see Federal Water Pollution Control Act Title 22 United States Code, Section 1251 et seq., state Water Pollution Control Act, chapter 90.48 RCW and Washington waste discharge general permit regulation WAC 173-226-130). The proposed permit addresses these legal requirements and controls the discharge of pollutants to protect surface water and ground water quality in Washington state.

The proposed Phase I Permit will require municipalities and other entities covered by the permit to develop and implement a stormwater management program to control stormwater runoff into and from their storm sewer system. The goals of the stormwater management program are to:

Reduce the discharge of pollutants to the "maximum extent practicable."

Protect water quality.

Satisfy appropriate requirements of the Clean Water Act.

How to obtain a copy of the draft permit: The draft Phase I Permit, fact sheet and application (Notice of intent to be covered or NOI) are available online at

To obtain printed copies of the draft Phase I Permit, fact sheet, and NOI, contact Jennifer Hennessey, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, phone (360) 407-7529, fax (360) 407-6426, e-mail

Submitting comments: Ecology will accept written and oral comments on the draft Phase I Permit, fact sheet, and NOI. Comments should reference specific text, including page and line numbers where possible.

Please submit written comments to Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program, Phase I Municipal Stormwater Permit Comments, P.O. Box 47696, Olympia, WA 98504-7696, fax (360) 407-6426, e-mail

Ecology must receive all written, e-mailed and faxed comments by 5:00 p.m. on May 19, 2006. Oral comments can be made by attending and testifying at the public hearing on May 2 (see information below).

Hearing: The hearing provides the public an opportunity to give formal comments on the proposed permit. A short workshop, including a question and answer session, will precede the hearing:

Tacoma: Tuesday, May 2, 2006, following a short workshop at 1:00 p.m., Pierce County Library Administrative Services Center, 3005 112 Street East, Tacoma.

Public workshops: The purpose of the workshops is to explain the permit, to inform participants of how this draft of the permit has changed from the previous draft of the permit, and to answer questions. Ecology will not accept formal oral testimony/comments on the draft permit, fact sheet, or NOI at the public workshops. The public workshops on the draft general permit will be held at the following locations, dates, and times:

Mount Vernon: Friday, March 31, 2006, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Skagit PUD #1, 1415 Freeway Drive, Mount Vernon.

Tacoma: Tuesday, April 4, 2006, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Pierce County Library Administrative Center, 3005 112 Street East, Tacoma.

Vancouver: Tuesday, April 11, 2006, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Water Resources Education Center, Bruce Hagensen Community Room, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, Vancouver.

Bellevue: Tuesday, April 18, 2006, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center, 5808 Lakemont Boulevard, Bellevue.

Secondary permittee workshop: Ecology will also hold two public workshops specifically for the public entities who are not cities, towns, or counties that may also be required to obtain coverage under this permit. The purpose of these workshops is to explain the general permit, to go through the stormwater management program requirements for these entities, and to answer questions.

Ellensburg: Tuesday, March 14, 2006, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Hal Holmes Community Center, 201 North Ruby Street, Ellensburg.

Lacey: Tuesday, March 28, 2006, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Avenue S.E., Lacey.

Issuing the final general permit: Ecology will issue the final permit after it considers all public comments and makes final changes to the draft permit. Ecology expects to issue the final Phase I Permit in late September 2006. The permit will become effective thirty days after the date of issuance. When ecology issues the permit, it will send a copy of the final permit and fact sheet, including a formal written response to all comments received, to each person who provided comments during the public comment period.