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Storm Water Ordinances

In 1972, the United States Congress passed the Clean Water Act to prohibit the discharge of pollutants to navigable waters of the US.

The major intent was to prevent point source discharge unless authorized by an National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES). The NPDES was designed to track point sources (implementation of controls and monitoring). As it became evident that other sources of pollution, such as stormwater runoff from large surface areas, contributed to water quality impairment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a storm water program to address three non point source discharges - industrial, construction sites, and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) which was intended to include pipes and ditches in urban areas.

The Phase I MS4 program began in 1990 and was based on population of urban areas. The MS4 Permit includes 11 components: Structural Controls and Stormwater Collection System Operation, Post-Construction Storm Water Management in New Development and Redevelopment, Existing Roadways, Flood Control Projects, Municipal Waste Treatment, Storage, or Disposal Facilities Not Covered by an NPDES Storm Water Permit, Pesticide, Herbicide & Fertilizer (PHFs) Application, Illicit Discharges and Improper Disposal, Industrial Runoff, Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control, Monitoring Program, Public Education and Outreach on Storm Water Impacts and Public Involvement/Participation.

The City of Columbia’s MS4 permit became effective January 25th 2010. Richland County’s MS4 Permit became effective September 11, 2006.

The MS4 permit requires the creation of Stormwater Management Plan which outlines the tasks that will be completed within a certain time frame. See links below for additional information.

One of the requirements of these Plans is to revise local stormwater ordinances to address water quality. In 2008-09 Richland County attempted to revise their buffer ordinances to require undeveloped and protected land next to all streams and lakes. Miscommunication regarding this ordinance led to a major backlash from the development community and no agreement could be reached. County Council requested that developers, regulators, and the environmental community (including the GCWA) work together to create a “roundtable” and suggest a compromise solution. Richland County contracted with the Center for Watershed Protection, an organization that has worked with many local governments to revise their land development codes. The Center acted as the facilitator for a stakeholder roundtable process in which all parties had to reach 100% consensus on 22 land development principles that have an impact on water quality. The buffer ordinance was agreed upon and passed in 2009 and the remaining principles are still under consideration.

The City of Columbia also passed a buffer ordinance in 2012 that was very similar to Richland County’s. The City of Columbia revised their Best Management Practices manual in 2012.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states, territories, and authorized tribes are required to develop lists of impaired waters. These are waters that are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet the water quality standards set by states, territories, or authorized tribes. The law requires that these jurisdictions establish priority rankings for waters on the lists and develop TMDLs for these waters. A Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet water quality standards.

Gills Creek has a TMDL for Fecal Coliform bacteria and a TMDL for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5) and Ammonia (which is meant to address the Dissolved Oxygen impairment since dissolved oxygen is not a pollutant). All of the entities within the watershed are expected to comply with this TMDL including Richland County, City of Columbia, Fort Jackson, and SC DOT. However, since there are no direct discharges of any of these pollutants in the Gills Creek Watershed, the TMDL must be implemented by managing stormwater runoff, the source for the pollutants. In many ways, the TMDL and the MS4 permits overlap and have many of the same solutions for addressing stormwater runoff.

For information on storm water management see the following web sites:

Richland County Stormwater Program

Environmental Protection Agency Summary of the Clean Water Act

712 Main St
EWS 617
Columbia, South Carolina 29208

Phone (803) 727-8326

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