What is NPDES ?
NPDES stands for The “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System”
What does this mean?
The following is a brief history of the program:
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) was originally created as an amendment to the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and established a permit program to control water pollution by regulating the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States. Initially, NPDES permits focused on regulating point source pollution which originates from a definite source, such as industrial facilities and discharges at a specific point. In the early 1970’s, only one third of the nation’s waters were considered safe for fishing and swimming. Through the advancement of the CWA and NPDES, two thirds of the nation’s waters were considered safe by the mid 1990s.
The initial emphasis of the CWA was on point source pollution – discharges from industry and municipal sewage facilities – discharges that could be identified as coming from a specific source, a specific point. And that continues to be a major part of the NPDES permit program. After years of issuing NPDES permits and regulating discharges, it became clear that there was a more serious contributor to the problem of maintaining water quality thought. So, with the passage of Water Quality Act in 1987, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required states to regulate stormwater runoff and to prepare non-point source management programs, (programs to manage non direct sources), - because, as it turns out, Stormwater runoff from impervious areas such as town streets, parking lots, buildings, construction sites,
homes and many other sources, happen to be the biggest source of pollution – the number one threat to our surface water quality.
The first Phase of the NPDES Stormwater permit program required that medium and large municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4s), with populations of 100,000 or more (currently the population of the town is approximately 49,000) and certain industrial and construction activities required permits from the EPA.
In the winter of 2003, Phase II of the NPDES program was expanded to include smaller municipalities serving populations of less than 100,000 (or communities with a population of 1000 people or more per square mile per the U.S. Census Bureau). The program now requires that these municipalities have in place a stormwater management program that will include the development and implementation of six specified measures that reduce Stormwater runoff. The following is a list of six minimum control measures that will help reduce stormwater pollution:
1. Public Education and Outreach – development and implement a program to distribute educational material to the public or conduct equivalent outreach activities. The materials will contain information what the public can do to help reduce pollutants that find their way into the streams and water bodies of the Town and State
2. Public Participation and Involvement – development and implement a public participation and involvement program. This is different from public education in that it not only educates the public, but also provides opportunity for citizens to take action, make decisions and have a say on what is going on in their Town.
3. Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination - development and implement a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the Stormwater sewer system.
4. Construction site Storm Water Runoff Control - development and implement a program to reduce pollutants from stormwater runoff from construction activities that result in a land disturbance of greater than or equal to one half (0.5) acre or more. The Town currently regulates construction sites with a disturbance of greater than or equal to one half (0.5) acres.
5. Post Construction Site Runoff Control - development and implement a program to minimize the impacts of development on water quality and attempt to maintain predevelopment conditions as much as possible.
6. Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping - development and implement a program to reduce the amount and type of pollutants that collect on roadways, parking lots, open spaces, storage and vehicle maintenance areas and all Town maintained facilities. The Town currently has an operation and maintenance program in effect.
Web Sites of Interest:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency –
Know Your Watershed –
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
GLAD YOU ASKED. HERE IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF BROCHURES THAT THE WILL HELP YOU REDUCE POLLUTION FROM YOUR HOME ACTIVITIES AND HELP PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT!
REMEMBER, Pollution prevention easy be easy –
Most of the time it involves making small changes in the way you do things around the house and in your yard.