Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (September 2, 2008) – Today the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) issued its formal “tentative determination” for Montgomery County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which is required by the federal Clean Water Act. The draft five-year permit requires actions to eliminate the negative impacts of polluted stormwater runoff in Montgomery County, which has eight federally listed impaired waterways, and would be an important step toward cleaning up local waterways and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

Major new requirements of the MS4 permit include the restoration of an additional 20 percent of the County's impervious surfaces (on top of 10 percent previously restored, for a total of 30 percent restored by 2013); the development and implementation of strategies to achieve a trash-free Anacostia River as part of the County’s commitment to the goal of a trash-free Potomac River by 2013; and the establishment of pollution limits, also known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), necessary to meet water quality standards for federally listed impaired waters. With this tentative determination, there now follows a period of 30 days for public comment, which will be extended to 90 days if a public hearing is requested.

Maryland Department of the Environment Deputy Secretary Bob Summers said: “Stormwater is truly the final frontier when it comes to reducing nutrient and sediment pollution to local streams, rivers, and the Bay from urban areas. While Maryland has taken bold steps in cleaning up pollution from wastewater treatment plants, polluted stormwater runoff remains a challenge in our most populated areas. This draft permit would significantly advance stormwater controls. Montgomery County has stepped up as a leader in implementing requirements to reduce trash and control polluted runoff.”

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, 17 percent of phosphorus, 11 percent of nitrogen and 9 percent of sediment loads to the Bay come from urban runoff. In the Middle Potomac Watershed, urban sources, excluding wastewater treatment plants, contribute over 30 percent of the nutrient load. Contaminants in runoff can rival or exceed the amount reaching local waterways from industries, federal facilities, and wastewater treatment plants. Under the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Agreement, Maryland committed to reducing nutrient and sediment pollution conveyed by stormwater runoff in the Bay watershed.

The new requirements in Montgomery County’s draft MS4 permit include:

  • Doubling the requirement for retrofitting existing developed land with stormwater management practices to 20 percent, in addition to an existing 10 percent requirement in the previous permit, for a total restoration of 30 percent of impervious surfaces by the end of the permit term in 2013.
  • Establishing a program and implementing a trash elimination plan for the Anacostia River to support regional strategies to reduce trash and increase recycling as set forth in the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative 2006 Action Agreement. Permit requirements for Montgomery County’s portion of the Anacostia Watershed include establishing a trash pollution baseline within one year, implementing a trash abatement program, expanding education to citizens, and monitoring efforts to ensure that programs continue to progress toward a trash-free Potomac.
  • Restoring impaired waterways by developing and implementing County plans to reduce stormwater pollutant loading to levels needed to meet water quality standards (known as Total Maximum Daily Loads).
  • Establishing a long-term schedule for performing comprehensive water quality assessments that includes identifying sources of pollution and water quality improvement opportunities for all watersheds in the County.
  • Improving local stormwater management ordinances and regulations, and modifying planning and zoning codes to allow for the implementation of Environmental Site Design (ESD) “green development practices” to the maximum extent practicable.

All of these requirements are in addition to existing countywide management programs and ongoing monitoring efforts and will go a long way toward making Montgomery County’s municipal stormwater program arguably one of the best in the country. Montgomery County officials worked closely with MDE in developing the draft permit regulations.

MDE Director of Water Management Jay Sakai said: “We commend Montgomery County for leading the way in addressing polluted urban runoff. With Bay restoration, our remaining challenge in urban areas is stormwater. It is technically challenging, but local jurisdictions in Maryland have long been innovative and this is another example. We must significantly increase our efforts to control stormwater if we are to be successful in restoring our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.”

In addition to this permit’s specific requirements, all new construction in Maryland must follow the State stormwater controls. The State recently refocused efforts on stormwater pollution controls when Governor O’Malley signed the “Stormwater Management Act of 2007,” which requires developers to maintain after development, as nearly as possible, the predevelopment runoff characteristics using Environmental Site Design (ESD) to the maximum extent practicable. This comprehensive approach to reducing stormwater runoff uses a combination of enhanced planning techniques, alternative permeable covers, vegetative buffers, and small-scale treatment practices to address the impacts associated with development.

A public hearing concerning this tentative determination will be held if the Department receives a written request by October 7, 2008. Written requests should be directed to Mr. Brian Clevenger, Maryland Department of the Environment, Water Management Administration, Sediment, Stormwater, and Dam Safety Program, 1800 Washington Blvd., STE. 440, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-1708. Written comments concerning this tentative determination will be accepted through October 17, 2008 or, if a hearing is requested, through December 2, 2008.

For more information on stormwater management in Maryland or to view this permit go to: or contact Mr. Brian Clevenger at 410-537-3543 or 1-800-633-6101.

A copy of the Draft Permit may be found here.

A Fact Sheet on the Draft Permit may be found here.