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EPA Faults DEP for MS4 Stormwater Program Shortcomings

A June 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report found the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (“MS4”) program lacks the ability to meet minimal federal requirements, primarily because of staffing and resource limitations. EPA made similar findings in 2011. EPA again found staffing shortages at all levels of DEP’s MS4 program, including both at the central and regional office levels. The report noted that these staffing shortages affected DEP’s ability to review submissions by permittees, inspect MS4s, manage data, and train staff. EPA also criticized DEP’s efforts to enforce program requirements. It recommended that DEP consider initiating more enforcement actions in response to violations, rather than simply relying upon cooperative efforts with permittees.

There are approximately 809 MS4 permittees in Pennsylvania, primarily municipalities. This number of permittees is expected to rise by approximately 120 as the next phase of permits are issued by DEP in 2018. The MS4 program is a key component of Pennsylvania’s effort to meet water quality requirements related to the Chesapeake Bay and to address impaired waters across the state. Environmental attorneys at Stock and Leader continue to work closely with their municipal clients to apply for the new MS4 permits and ensure that they comply with all permit requirements.  Access the EPA report here.

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