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The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), established through the Clean Water Act of 1977, regulates water quality through a required permit system for all pollution discharges to waters of the United States. Early pollution prevention successfully focused upon point sources such as industrial sites and sewage plants. It has now moved on to municipal stormwater runoff.
Stormwater pollution may include sediments, nutrients, acids and salts, heavy metals, toxic chemicals and pathogens which all eventually affect lakes, ponds and streams. The Regulatory bottom line for this system focuses on reducing water pollution to the Maximum Extent Practicable (MEP), overall protection of water quality, and satisfying the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.
Categories of water pollution that are addressed in the NPDES:
1) point-source, which can be specifically defined as a location where pollution enters a stream or lake, and
2) non-point source pollution, from the NDEQ definition, is collective runoff from larger land areas and is often difficult to delineate.
Stormwater regulations control both point source and non-point source pollution.
The NPDES is administered through the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) in Nebraska. There have been two phases of implementation.
The Phase I Rule (1990) covers:
- Medium and Large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) in cities with a population of over 100,000 pop. (Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue, South Sioux City)
- 11 industrial categories; and
- Construction activities – 5 or more acres disturbed
The Phase II Rule (early 2003) covers municipalities and other entities as defined by the EPA:*
- Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) (in Nebraska, includes the following cities over 10,000 population) – Columbus, Norfolk, Fremont, Beatrice, Hastings, Kearney, Grand Island, Lexington , North Platte, Scottsbluff, Boy's Town, Dakota City, La Vista, Papillion, and Ralston.
- Counties (those that are defined with an “Urban Area” designation per Phase II) –Douglas, Dakota, Sarpy
- Other entities (Offutt AFB, Nebraska Department of Roads, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
The Phase II Rule is having a significant impact in many areas of Nebraska that had previously not focused on stormwater management improvements. There are six control measures required through NDEQ implementation of the NPDES for all of the communities and entities listed above:
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Participation and Involvement
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Runoff Control
- Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
In addition, Phase II also covers discharges from construction activity which disturbs generally between 1 and 5 acres (or less than 1 acre if part of a larger common plan of development or sale). The relatively small area of regulated disturbance now requires that virtually every construction site must be in compliance with state and local requirements for minimized erosion and limited sediment movement. For example, the City of Lincoln has implemented an ordinance that controls soil erosion and sediment control on individual lots being developed within a subdivision.
Additional information on Nebraska stormwater regulations and policies can be found at the following links:
*Document in pdf format. You will need the Acrobat Reader to read or print. Download free.
Information presented within the property design and management section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Property Design & Management Team members Kelly Feehan, Thomas Franti, Steven Rodie and Richard Sutton.
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