WSR 06-24-097


[ Filed December 5, 2006, 11:20 a.m. ]


Announcing final issuance of the

Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit for Western Washington

On December 20, 2006, the department of ecology (ecology) is issuing a general permit to cover municipal separate storm systems. The title of the final permit is "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and State Waste Discharge General Permit for Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewers in Western Washington." The permit is also referred to as the "Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit for Western Washington." This final Phase II municipal stormwater permit for western Washington becomes effective on January 19, 2007.

What is being regulated by this permit and who is affected? In December 1999, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Phase II municipal stormwater regulations. These regulations went into effect in March 2003. This permit regulates discharges from small municipal separate storm sewer systems located in western Washington pursuant to EPA regulations and Washington state water pollution control law.

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).

Under EPA rules, entities that need a permit:

Own or operate a MS4 that discharges to surface waters; and
Are located in urbanized areas as defined by the United States Census Bureau; and
Serve a population of more than 1,000.
For maps of census defined urban areas in western Washington and associated permit coverage areas, please consult ecology's web page at

At a minimum the following cities, towns, and counties in western Washington are subject to this permit if they own or operate a regulated small MS4.

Cities and Towns: Aberdeen, Algona, Anacortes, Arlington, Auburn, Bainbridge Island, Battle Ground, Bellevue, Bellingham, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Bremerton, Brier, Buckley, Burien, Burlington, Camas, Centralia, Clyde Hill, Covington, Des Moines, DuPont, Duvall, Edgewood, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, Ferndale, Fife, Fircrest, Gig Harbor, Granite Falls, Issaquah, Kelso, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lacey, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Longview, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Mount Vernon, Mukilteo, Newcastle, Normandy Park, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Orting, Pacific, Port Orchard, Port Angeles, Poulsbo, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, SeaTac, Sedro-Woolley, Shoreline, Snohomish, Steilacoom, Sumner, Tukwila, Tumwater, University Place, Vancouver, Washougal, Woodinville, and Yarrow Point.

Counties: Cowlitz, Kitsap, Thurston, Skagit, and Whatcom.

In addition, the EPA rules also require permit coverage for special purpose districts operating a regulated MS4 within census defined urban areas. A special purpose district is subject to this permit if the district's stormdrain system:

1. Is publically owned.

2. Is located within or partially within a census defined urban area of western Washington.

3. Discharges to surface waters.

4. Serves more than 1,000 people, including resident and commuter population.

Special purpose districts that could be subject to this permit include public ports, 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 the Washington state department of transportation, which ecology will cover under a separate permit.

Purpose of the general permit: The general permit covers stormwater discharges from municipally owned or operated storm sewer systems in certain urbanized areas of western Washington. Federal and state water quality laws require a permit for the discharge of stormwater (Federal Water Pollution Control Act Title 22 United States Code, Section 1251 et seq., State Water Pollution Control Act, chapter 90.48 RCW). The permit addresses these legal requirements and requires the public entities covered by the permit to control the discharge of pollutants to protect surface water and ground water quality in Washington state.

The general permit will require municipalities and other entities covered by the permit to develop and implement a stormwater management program. A stormwater management program contains the following minimum elements:

1. Public education and outreach,

2. Public involvement and participation,

3. Illicit discharge detection and elimination,

4. Controlling runoff from new development, redevelopment and construction sites, and

5. Pollution prevention and good housekeeping.

The stormwater management program includes requirements for controlling pollution in stormwater from areas of existing development, as well as in areas of expected future growth. In addition, the proposed permit requires programs to address approved total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) or water cleanup plan requirements, and to evaluate the program itself.

How to obtain a copy of the permit: The permit, fact sheet, response to comments and application (also called Notice of Intent or NOI) are available online at

To obtain printed copies of the permit, fact sheet, response to comments and NOI, contact Kathleen Emmett, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, phone (360) 407-7386, fax (360) 407-6426, e-mail

Ecology will hold public workshops on the final permit; for updated information please visit ecology's web site at

How to apply for the NPDES MS4 permit: Appendix 5 of the permit contains the forms, instructions and sample public notice information. If you want to apply for coverage under the Phase II municipal stormwater permit, complete these three basic steps:

1. Completely fill out the notice of intent.

2. Send a complete notice of intent to Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program, Municipal Stormwater Permits, P.O. Box 47696, Olympia, WA 98504-7696.

3. Publish a notice at least once a week for two consecutive weeks in a single newspaper of general circulation in the county or city in which your district is located.

Operators of regulated MS4s who fail to submit an NOI by January 19, 2007, could be in violation of the Clean Water Act for discharging without a permit.

Changes from the draft to the final general permit: Ecology made numerous changes to improve clarity and readability of the permit. The following are some of the more significant changes made between the draft and final permit:

The final permit does not authorize the relaxation of thresholds that are less protective of the environment then those currently in effect by the permittee. Permittees may not repeal existing local requirements to control stormwater that go beyond the requirements of the final permit. Specifically, if a local government is currently regulating stormwater runoff at sites that are less than 1 acre they must continue to do so.
In the final permit, ecology revised Special Condition S4 Compliance with Standards and added a procedure that permittees must follow if ecology determines that the permittee is causing or contributing to a violation of state water quality standards.
The final permit contains revised exceptions and variance criteria in Appendix 1. The permittees may use the criteria to determine exceptions and variances to the minimum requirements for new development and redevelopment.
The deadline for adopting ordinances and implementing programs to control stormwater runoff from new development, redevelopment, and construction sites was extended in the final permit from twenty-four months to thirty months from the effective date of the permit.
Ecology simplified record-keeping and cost-accounting requirements in the final permit.
Appeal Process: The permit may be appealed within thirty days. Pursuant to chapter 43.21B RCW, appeals must be filed with the pollution control hearings board and served on the department of ecology within thirty days of receipt of the permit.

Your notice of appeal must be filed with the Pollution Control Hearings Board, 4224 6th Avenue S.E., RoweSix, Building 2, P.O. Box 40903, Lacey, WA 98504-0903.

Your notice of appeal must also be served on the Department of Ecology, Appeals Coordinator, P.O. Box 47608, Olympia, WA 98504-7608.

In addition, please send a copy of your notice of appeal to Department of Ecology, Kathleen Emmett, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office