Laurel joins group to address MS4

By Tony E. Windsor

Laurel has officially joined a consortium of communities to comply with regulations being mandated by the state in accordance with federal clean water guidelines. During a recent meeting of Laurel Mayor and Council, Town Manager Jamie Smith briefed the council on progress made in hoping to address the costs that will come with communities meeting Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Service (MS4) requirements.

Last year, the Laurel Mayor and Council were briefed about the new state developed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for storm water discharges from the MS4s.

As part of a national effort under the Clean Water Act, the permitting process seeks to ensure the protection of waterways, by monitoring and managing storm water runoff as a means to reduce potentially polluted water that discharges to local rivers and streams. The MS4 permit will require the town to control non-point source pollutants that enter the storm sewer system, monitor storm water discharge, provide mapping of the storm sewer system and develop and implement management programs to minimize the pollutant contribution to and from the MS4.

In order to more economically and strategically meet these pending costs for environmental compliance of the special state storm water permits, the town formed a coalition with the neighboring municipalities of Bridgeville, Seaford, Georgetown and Delmar.

Smith said she and Public Works Director, Jamie Foskey, have attended a workshop about the MS4 regulations and continue to work as a group with the other communities and the Sussex Conservation District to produce a strategy for meeting MS4 compliance.

We are hopeful that we can work together and find ways to share the cost of some of the requirements of the MS4, she said.

Smith said the costs associated with what is deemed delivery of the services contained in the agreement which are not covered by recognized, available funding sources, will be shared by all of the full members of the coalition. In order to ensure equity in the sharing of the costs, Smith said the cost to each full member is based on the population and square miles of the member municipality as contained in the most recent decennial census data.

DNREC (Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) is looking to release further information about the permit process in the fall. Smith also said it was determined that because the Delaware Department of Transportation maintains many of the roadways in the communities, that agency should also be involved in the consortiums discussions.

Smith said the states timeline for all towns to have MS4 permits is late fall of 2017 or no later than early winter of 2018.

According to DNREC, the MS4 permits authorize all existing and new point source discharges of storm water from covered small MS4s, which Laurel is considered. The permit does, however, allow discharge of spilled material when it is deemed necessary to prevent loss of life, personal injury, or severe property damage. The permits are expected to be issued for a period of five years, unless there is an approved administrative extension.

DNREC says the State of Delaware has a total of 2,509 miles of streams and rivers and 2,954 acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds. According to a report submitted to the EPA, the state has determined that 85 percent of Delawares rivers and streams do not fully support swimming use and 94 percent do not fully support fish and wildlife use. The state concludes that these waters do not meet the standards because of the contribution of pollutants from diffuse sources, such as those carried by storm water to the MS4.

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