This newsletter is available exclusively to SESWA Members
May 2020
Volume 15, Issue 3

President's Corner
Scott Hofer
As we all contemplate our next move towards normalcy and try to figure out what our definition of normalcy will be...I hope you had some time to reflect. I hope that in between the times of washing your hands and totally revamping your daily schedule, you had time to think. If there is any upside to this pandemic, I hope it is a renewed appreciation for the importance of relationships and a deepened sense of purpose.

SESWA is happy to report that our Spring Seminar was a great success. Through the hard work of the speakers, the continued support from sponsors and the efforts of the AMP staff, the Spring Seminar was seamlessly moved online. While we all missed the face to face connections, the engaging online discussions during the presentations and the great questions posed to the speakers emphasized the wonderful content and high level of participation from the attendees. The experience highlighted the benefits of the digital platform while demonstrating another effective tool for SESWA. 
As we move towards October, SESWA continues its dedication to bringing its members a conference at the level you have come to expect. The Board of Directors and management staff are continuing to monitor the situation and will make the appropriate modifications that are in interest in the health of all of us. This newsletter marks the opening of the Annual Conference, please register to join us. 
Scott Hofer
SESWA President
Association News 
Give Us Your Best Shot - SESWA Photo Contest Deadline May 29th
Today is the last chance to submit a photo for the 2020 SESWA Member Photo Contest!  Help us share all the great work you are doing by sharing photos of your favorite stormwater projects.  Some examples of what we'd like to feature include innovative BMPs, Green Infrastructure, LID, treatment ponds, storm drain art or stream restoration projects.  Winning photos will be featured on the SESWA Homepage for one year referencing the organizations who submitted them.  Submit your photos today
Spring Seminar - Thank You!

For the past 15 years, SESWA's Annual Regional Seminar has served as an important forum for stormwater professionals to learn about innovative stormwater practices from experts, build partnerships and share best practices. This year, after much consideration and resounding support from our sponsors, speakers, and attendees, SESWA converted its Seminar to an online event. We are thrilled to report that the online event was a huge success! Here's some statistics for the day - 98% of registrants and sponsors moved from the in-person to the online event, 77% of attendees participated for the entire day, and 98% of attendees gave the seminar top ratings. We wanted to thank all of our participants for coming together to make this possible.
In This Issue
Communications Sponsors

SESWA Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Scott Hofer
Jefferson County DOH, AL

Vice President:
Cory Rayburn
City of Atlanta, GA

W. Dave Canaan
Mecklenburg County, NC

Immediate Past President:
Laurie Hawks
Hawks Environmental

Board Representative:
Synithia Williams
Richland County, SC

To access a full listing of the SESWA Board of Directors, please click here.
15th Annual Regional Stormwater Conference - Join us in Hilton Head, South Carolina
Register to attend the best-of-the-best in regional stormwater education this year! The 15th Annual Regional Stormwater Conference will be held October 7-9, 2020 in Hilton Head, South Carolina! The conference will feature an agenda developed by your peers, the best networking opportunities with other stormwater professionals, great keynote and breakout speakers, and the latest technologies displayed in an outstanding Exhibit Hall. Registration opens today, take advantage of discounted rates and Register Now!
FREE Webinar - Registration Opening Soon!

Coming in July! Save the date to attend SESWA's webinar MS4 Audit Success Stories on July 23, 2020 from 10:30 - 11:30 am Eastern. The webinar will be free to members, thanks to our 2020-2021 Communication Sponsors. 

Membership - Renewal Deadline Extended!

Thank you for your membership in the Southeast Stormwater Association!  We understand that these are challenging times. With this in mind, we are extending the deadline for dues payments. This year's invoice will reflect a September 30th deadline.  The primary contact for your organization received the first "early notice" by mail and email.  If you didn't receive a notice or aren't sure who your organization's primary contact is, contact SESWA, we're happy to help.  We look forward to welcoming you back for another year! 
SESWA Job Board - Post Jobs and Resumes!

SESWA is here for you! In an effort to help the stormwater community grow, we are offering free 30-day Job Board postings to all (not just members) through the month of June. Please help spread the word!

SESWA's Job Board also has a new feature - job seekers can now post their resumes for free for 30-days. SESWA members will be able to view the resumes and find the best fit for their vacancies! To post your vacancy or resume, visit the Job Board on the SESWA website!
Join the Online Community - SESWA's Online Forum 
During this time when many are working from home, take this opportunity to visit the Community Forum and connect with other stormwater professionals.  The Forum is listed under the "Members Only" tab on the SESWA website.  Join this virtual gathering place for members to ask a question or post something happening in your area that might be helpful to others. Don't forget to subscribe to get updates!

Quick Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Forum
  • Subscribe - Subscribe to as many topics as you like. When you subscribe to a topic you will receive email alerts for any activity on that topic.
  • Favorites - Click "Favorite" to add a topic to your "My Favorites" list.
  • Search - Search for topics of interest by entering key words in the website search box at the top of the web page. You must be logged in to use the Search feature. 
  • Post - Click on the "Discussion Threads" link. Go to the "New Topic" button. Be sure to subscribe to this topic to receive automatic updates. 
  • Reply - Click the topic link and then click "Post Reply." Remember, to receive automatic updates you must subscribe to this topic.
Regulatory News 
EPA Stormwater Funding Task Force Report Finalized
Danielle Hopkins, SESWA 

Congress mandated the EPA to prepare a report Evaluating Stormwater Infrastructure Funding and Financing in response to the 2018 American Water Infrastructure Act. EPA through the Environmental Finance Advisory Board recently completed the report to evaluate and make recommendations for funding and financing of stormwater programs nationwide. The report concluded that "...current funding mechanisms and public education initiatives are not sufficient to confront the significant needs across the nation." The shortfall is estimated between $7-10 billion annually. View the report for a summary of existing funding sources, affordability issues, and recommendations.
Groundwater Discharges May Need CWA Permit
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

The Supreme Court ruled on April 23rd that WWT operations and other dischargers of pollution cannot avoid environmental requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA) even if the release of the pollutant is not a direct discharge into waters of the United States. In County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, SCOTUS found that the discharge of polluted water into the ground which reaches a nearby WOTUS water does not relieve an industry of complying with the CWA. 
While the Supreme Court ruled that the CWA requires permits for direct discharges into WOTUS waterbodies and also when there is the "functional equivalent" of a direct discharge, it rejected the broader standard embedded in the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court that permits are required when pollutants are "fairly traceable," and remanded the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings consistent with its decision. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) had filed multiple briefs in the case supporting the County of Maui.

Under the "functional equivalent" test several factors can be considered, such as: transit time, distance traveled, the nature of the material through which the pollutant travels, the extent to which the pollutant is diluted or changed, the amount of pollutant entering the navigable waters relative to the amount of the pollutant that leaves the point source, the manner by or area in which the pollutant enters the navigable waters, etc. Time and distance are the most important factors.

Maui County injects up to 5 million gallons of treated wastewater per day into wells beneath its wastewater reclamation facility, which is about one half-mile from the Pacific shoreline. Environmental groups in Hawaii sued the County after studies using dyes to trace the flow showed more than half the discharge from two wells was entering the ocean, affecting area water quality and marine ecosystems.
WOTUS Replacement Rule
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

On April 21st EPA and the Army Corps published rules in the Federal Register providing new definitions of "Waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The new " Replacement Rule" seeks to narrow the definition of waters subject to the application of the CWA to four basic categories, including territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters; certain lakes, ponds and impoundments; and, wetlands that directly abut jurisdictional waters or have a regular interaction with such waters.  The rule also provides for specific exclusions from federal jurisdiction.  Publication in the Federal Register starts a 60-day clock after which time the rule becomes effective.  However, several stakeholders have already taken the first steps to challenge the rule in federal court.  See SESWA's Advocacy Page for more information.
WOTUS Litigation
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

Considering the haphazard approach of the federal government toward the WOTUS litigation and rulemaking efforts, SESWA's lawsuit challenging the 2015 WOTUS rule has been continued as an "insurance policy" if current efforts to repeal or replace the 2015 rule are unsuccessful. See the Advocacy Page for more information.
Around the Southeast
Stormwater Ordinance Virtual Public Meeting 
Spencer J. Peck, City of Atlanta, GA

The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) hosted a virtual public meeting on April 21st regarding proposed revisions to the City's Post-Development Stormwater Management Ordinance. The goal of the virtual public meeting was to raise awareness about updates driven by the City's new MS4 Permit and the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District's new Model Stormwater Ordinance. 

The virtual meeting, which was attended by more than 90 individuals, was a great success! The meeting and online survey provided participants the opportunity to submit feedback about the proposed updates and share their thoughts about other ways to improve the ordinance. There were more than 50 comments; nearly a dozen questions were answered live by a panel of DWM Staff during the virtual meeting. 

For more information about the updates, to download the latest version of the proposed Stormwater Ordinance, which includes revisions based on public feedback, or to view the virtual meeting please visit the ordinance page of the DWM's website. The proposed changes will be submitted to the Atlanta City Council for approval, with a first read in August.
Updates on MS4 Permit Program for North Carolina
Patrick Blandford, HDR

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has provided an update of the MS4 program on their website.  Among the updates are summarized results from the first three dozen audits, an indication of the most common deficiencies, a presentation of the current MS4 program, a look at the first community under the new permit, and new guidance for developing the SWMP.  Review this information and check through the Laserfiche repository for circumstantial evidence in preparing for your upcoming audit. 
Public Education without the Public
John Butler, Gwinnett County, GA

In light of the current state of things, traditional, in-person public education tactics just aren't feasible. However, that shouldn't stop us from getting the message out there! Some SESWA members are exploring new ways of getting in touch with our watersheds and seeing some positive results with lots of potential for the future.

In Gwinnett County, we are starting to film our hour-long workshops to produce half hour videos with the same content. Our in-school education team has created interactive graphics, videos, and reading passages to help teachers deliver stormwater lessons to their students at home.

All of this begs the question, with a "new normal" on the horizon is this the way of the future? Virtual experiences have the potential to engage new audiences and expand our reach. There will be many lessons to learn along the way and we can all help one another. Contin
ue this conversation on the Community Forum and share your virtual educational experiences!

New Development Stormwater Regulation Update for Neuse and Tar-Pamlico 
Patrick Blandford, HDR

Effective April 1st, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) will start the timeline for development of a model stormwater program for communities in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins to adopt.  Both river basins have had a nutrient management strategy in place since the late nineties and 2000. That strategy includes limiting the export of nutrients from new development runoff.  The new regulations refresh the management approaches to controlling nutrient to be more consistent with each other and current stormwater management regulations within other NCDEQ programs.  The regulations will bring in new communities and new approaches to exemptions, pollutant accounting, offsets, onsite treatment, and elimination of retrofit identification among other items.  Check out the respective websites (Neuse and Tar-Pamlico) for more on the regulations and timeline for development.
The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Adopt New Ordinances
Jason Hunt, City of Charlotte, NC

The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County worked together to revise their respective Stormwater Pollution Control Ordinances to prohibit the use of high Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) pavement products within their jurisdictions.  PAHs have multiple sources, but studies have shown that pavement sealants are the most significant source of PAHs found in urban stream, pond, and lake sediments.  The ordinance changes were recommended following a multi-year study which tested local streambed sediments for PAHs, pesticides, metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and compared results against toxic effect thresholds for benthic macroinvertebrates.  The study was initiated after fish kills were observed in local surface water bodies directly downstream of recently sealed parking lots.  The results of the study showed that only PAHs consistently exceeded toxic effect thresholds in all urban streams tested.  Extensive outreach was conducted to local sealant manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, industry groups and to municipalities with similar prohibitions and this feedback helped greatly to improve the ordinance language.  Traditional asphalt-based sealants, which have a PAH content about 1,000 times less than coal tar sealants, will continue to be allowed as well as other products that are less than 0.1% PAH content by weight.  These ordinance revisions were adopted in May 2020. 

Quick and Easy is Not Always Best
Rosemary Ginn, City of Mobile, AL

In Alabama, ADECA's Office of Water Resources recently required communities participating in the NFIP to adopt its model flood plain ordinance (FPO) in 2020. As with most things in life, the easiest path is not the best path, i.e. simply adopting the state's model FPO "as-is" would have been quick and easy, but it could have led to unintended consequences. 

If you do not want to take the easy route, what should you do?
  1. Set up FPO committee - Engineering/Flood Plain, Legal, Permitting, Building Code, Real Estate, GIS, with a designated lead editing.
  2. Meet regularly, reviewing significant edits with the entire team. The lead should not have to do all the decision making.
  3. It is beneficial for the reviewer to have an annotated version of the community's FPO showing which section in the FPO corresponds to which section in the model.
  4. If there are edits in the "model" that you disagree with, do not have the staffing to enforce, or will take on liability on your community, plan to discuss with the reviewer. If it is not in the 44CFR60.3, ask the reviewer, where their concerns are coming from. Communicate!
City of Charleston Forest Acres Stormwater Improvements
Joe Fersner and Steve Kirk, Thomas & Hutton

The City of Charleston, South Carolina is improving the stormwater collection and conveyance systems in the Forest Acres and 5th Avenue drainage basins in the West Ashley area of the City. The existing drainage systems were typified by undersized channels and road culvert systems which conveyed to an undersized stormwater pump station that outfalls through a limited gravity system. The City retained Thomas & Hutton to confirm the need for the proposed improvements and design the initial phases of the improvements to increase the basins' outfall capacity.  Based on the analysis of various factors, including drainage and flood control effectiveness/options, life cycle costs, environmental impacts, and others, it was determined that the City implement a gravity drainage option for the Phase 1 improvements. There were significant hurdles involving utility conflicts (particularly related to relocation of major phone line duct banks) and residential structures in the drainage easements that were resolved through productive negotiations. Through creative design and collaboration with all stakeholders, the City has embarked on a successful project with minimal environmental impacts that can be efficiently operated and maintained. Construction costs for Phase 1 were $10 million and estimates for Phase 2 are $6.5 million.

Just Another BRIC in the Wall?
Lisa Wells and Angie Mettlen, W.K. Dickson & Company

No, this isn't an article about 70's classic rock. It is a synopsis of a new FEMA program, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities. The parallel is that music from the seventies changed the rock genre and BRIC aims to change the way mitigation is done. The passage of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) paved the way for this paradigm shift. In FY18, FEMA expended 90% of its mitigation dollars after declared disasters. The DRRA called for changes to allow more pre-disaster mitigation to reduce post-disaster expenditures that are becoming unsustainable. It also put emphasis on infrastructure resiliency. And, with that, the BRIC program was born and will replace the traditional Pre-Disaster Mitigation program. The first round of funding is expected in FY21 (Fall 2020) and will not depend on annual appropriations. BRIC will be funded based on 6% of the previous year's declared disaster dollars. Many of the normal provisions under the Stafford Act will still apply but emphasis will be placed on green infrastructure, innovation, and multi-layer benefits. This isn't just another BRIC in the wall. It's a way for communities to build resiliency and reduce risk prior to a disaster, not wait until it occurs. 

NACWA Corner
Provided by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies 
Emily Remmel, Director of Regulatory Affairs

EPA proposes 2020 industrial stormwater permit expanding requirements; NACWA weighs in with concerns
On March 2, EPA published the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System: 2020 Issuance of the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity in the Federal Register (85 Fed. Reg. 12288). The comment period closes on June 1 - after the publication of the SESWA May Newsletter - but, NACWA would like to provide SESWA members with some of our key insights and concerns with this iteration of the industrial stormwater MSGP. NACWA's comments will be filed on June 1, 2020.

The proposed 2020 MSGP makes several significant modifications from the prior 2015 MSGP. The proposed changes are partly a result of litigation and a 2016 settlement requiring the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's National Research Council (NRC) to study and make recommendations to EPA on how to better mitigate surface water pollution from industrial activity in the next MSGP iteration. 

First, the proposed 2020 MSGP includes new benchmark monitoring requirements for total suspended solids (TSS), pH, and chemical oxygen demand (COD) for all industry sectors covered under the permit. NACWA urges EPA not to finalize these novel universal benchmark monitoring provisions, or in the alternative to exclude historically low-risk industries that have not shown significant benchmark exceedances including Sector T, Treatment Works. 

Second, the proposed 2020 MSGP also includes new control measures for industries to implement designed to minimize impacts from stormwater discharges from major storm events that trigger extreme flood conditions. NACWA opposes this mandate for control measures based on Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) flood maps. Publicly owned treatment works are traditionally located on low-lying topography and have long-standing experience dealing with building resiliency from major storm events and serious flooding. Clean water utilities are dedicated to improving resiliency within their communities and do so through various measures including capital improvements and green infrastructure. Including requirements in the MSGP that could impede or conflict with these efforts is inappropriate.

NACWA has additional comments on EPA's proposed 2020 MSGP. To find out more on NACWA's advocacy efforts as it relates to the MSGP, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA's Director of Regulatory Affairs.
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