This newsletter is available exclusively to SESWA Members
January 2020
Volume 15, Issue 1

President's Corner
Scott Hofer
Happy New Year everyone! I am excited by the growth SESWA has seen over the past year and hope for the continuation of this trend into the new year. SESWA 's membership is at its highest level thanks to the work of our volunteer committees and management staff. However, with this growth comes an implicit charge for SESWA to work even harder to find ways to meet the needs of its members. In April, SESWA leadership will participate in a Strategic Planning meeting to discuss and shape the goals for SESWA to meet that charge. Thank you all for your support of SESWA and please don't hesitate to contact us with your input. You don't have to wait until you get the evaluation forms at the seminars and conferences!
The Spring Seminar will be held on April 24th and this year's topic is "Using Partnerships to Meet Growing Stormwater Demands." The Seminar will explore ways that partnerships can maximize the fiscal resources and knowledge base of public and private entities to help meet permit requirements. We all can benefit from the many aspects that partnerships bring to the table so please come join us in Atlanta to learn, share and connect with other professionals.
Scott Hofer, Jefferson County DOH
SESWA President
Association News 
Did You Miss the January 16th Litter Quitters Webinar? 

You can still learn about this innovative public education campaign that engages students in an anti-litter/stormwater protection video competition. The competition empowers students to be change agents by encouraging anti-littering behavior among classmates, family members, and the community while providing cash prizes for their school. The webinar presented the campaign from concept to implementation. If you were unable to attend, the webinar recording is available online!
Have an Idea For a Great Presentation?

You're invited to submit a presentation for the 15th Annual Conference in Hilton Head, SC! Help us make this year's Conference the best yet by adding your insight, knowledge, and experience to the program!  We are looking for case studies, evolving policy and regulatory information, and new practices, techniques or research.  The deadline to submit a presentation for consideration is the close of business on March 6, 2020.
Using Partnerships to Meet Growing Stormwater Demands

Join us on Friday April 24th in Atlanta, GA for the 15th Annual Regional Stormwater Seminar - Using Partnerships to Meet Growing Stormwater Demands. The Seminar will explore the "How, When and Why" of utilizing public and private partnerships as an innovative approach to comply with emerging stormwater permit conditions and new approaches that local governments are taking to develop beneficial relationships to finance, build, and maintain stormwater infrastructure and services.  Professional Engineers that attend the Seminar and complete the required form onsite are eligible for up to six (6) professional development hours.  Hurry, this event sells out quickly and the discounted early bird registration rate will end on February 28th! Register early and save.
In This Issue
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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
Brown and Caldwell

Board Representative:
Synithia Williams
Richland County, SC

To access a full listing of the SESWA Board of Directors, please click here.
State Spotlight Webinar - Forming Effective Partnerships to Streamline Outreach Programs 

Registration opens today for the May 6th SESWA State Spotlight Webinar. The webinar hosted by SESWA and South Carolina will offer continuing education and focus on creating effective partnerships. The City of Columbia and Richland County are medium MS4s with different permit requirements, but they partner together on outreach programs to reduce E. Coli and nutrient loads and expand their reach. Their collaboration allows them to share resources, meet permit requirements, and develop effective outreach programs. At the end of this presentation attendees will be able to identify ways to pool staff and budget resources with other municipalities, create professional networks to broaden the scope of outreach projects, and develop collaborations that will ensure residents hear a consistent message. 
Join the Online Southeastern Stormwater Community! 

Visit the Community Forum under the "Members Only" tab on the SESWA website. 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.
SESWA Job Board - FREE to Members!

Membership has its privileges! SESWA members may post position vacancy announcements reaching thousands of qualified stormwater professionals throughout the Southeast at no cost for 30 days, a $200 savings! Your listings are accessible by job seekers anywhere. To post your vacancy, visit the Job Board on the SESWA website!
New Stormwater MS4 Database Tool Released!

SESWA is pleased to offer its Southeast MS4 Permit Database in cooperation with Clemson Cooperative Extension staff! It's an easily-accessible source of comparative information on stormwater permitting practices in the eight states that comprise EPA Region 4.

By broadening the capacity of stormwater professionals, SESWA's core purpose is to improve surface water quality through the effective operation of stormwater management systems. SESWA accomplishes this by supporting stormwater professionals with focused education; research; information; and, regulatory agency monitoring. This project combines all of those approaches to provide a useful tool to communities in the Southeast. 

The Database incorporates representative NPDES MS4 permits for each of the states in Region 4. The collection of this information has come from multiple sources. The Database identifies the state agency that administers the NPDES stormwater program within each state; a sampling of Phase I and Phase II permits; web links where available for the identified permits; and, the section within the various permits where information related to control measures are found. 

We hope you find the Southeast MS4 Permit Database to be a useful source of information! Your feedback is welcome; please send any comments or questions to
Regulatory News 
WOTUS Replacement Rule
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

On January 23, 2020 EPA and the Army Corps finalized rules providing for new definitions of "Waters of the United States" under the CWA. The new rule includes four basic categories of jurisdictional waters and provides for specific exclusions from federal jurisdiction. Categories of waters subject to federal regulation include:
  • The 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 Replacement Rule becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. However, if experience with the Repeal Rule (see article below) is an indicator of things to come with the Replacement Rule, expect several challenges to it in federal court. For more information, see EPA's announcement and a pre-publication version of the replacement rule, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

WOTUS Repeal Rule 
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

On October 22, 2019 EPA published a Final Rule in the Federal Register repealing the 2015 WOTUS rule in its entirety.  A group of New Mexico ranchers and a coalition of environmental groups immediately filed lawsuits challenging the validity of the rule, followed by two landowners in New York state and a coalition of 15 states and cities who filed two additional complaints in December 2019.  The litigation is causing more confusion over an unusual regulatory patchwork:  The 2015 rule is currently in effect for 22 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories but has been stayed or remanded for legal and procedural flaws by various courts in the remaining states.  The adoption of a replacement rule (see article above) is a logical next step for EPA, but is being complicated by challenges to the repeal rule and policy questions about the replacement rule itself.
WOTUS Litigation
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

After the announcement by EPA of its intention to finalize the repeal of the 2015 WOTUS regulations last month, the Department of Justice, on behalf of EPA and the Corps, formally inquired as to whether SESWA and its partners would agree to put its litigation on hold for 75 days.  SESWA opposed the request in light of the haphazard approach of the federal government toward the WOTUS litigation and rulemaking efforts.  Nonetheless, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida requested preparation of a Joint Position Statement of the Plaintiffs and Defendants and thereafter issued an Order on September 22, 2019 holding the litigation challenging the 2015 WOTUS rule in abeyance for 75 days, which was subsequently extended for an additional 100 days. 
Liability for Groundwater Pollution
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

On November 6, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in County of Maui v. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund, et al, the first of several lawsuits over whether discharges of pollution to groundwater and then eventually to jurisdictional surface waters (like a river or lake) violates the CWA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with environmentalists that the CWA covers groundwater-borne pollution. But other Circuit Courts of Appeals (see Conservation Law Foundation v. Longwood Venues & Destinations, et al) have held that there is no such liability for sub-surface releases. Arguments center on whether the CWA's requirements to obtain a permit to discharge pollution apply only to instances where pollution directly enters a water of the U.S. or whether the Act also applies to pollution that indirectly enters such jurisdictional waters. The Supreme Court's decision should be issued by mid-2020.
Around the Southeast
Southeast Legislatures in Session
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

Almost all the State Legislatures in the Southeast are in session at the present time. Most of their legislative websites have great search functions that allow you to query and track legislation containing keywords like "water pollution" or "stormwater." Since legislative policy seems to move from one state to the next, seeing what's being considered in other states can be helpful! 
Southside River Rendezvous 
Hannah Palmer, Finding the Flint and Kevin Middlebrooks, Hazen and Sawyer, GA

Three major watersheds come together on Atlanta's Southside-the Chattahoochee River, the Flint River, and the South River-making it somewhat confusing for residents that want to advocate for the creeks and rivers in their neighborhoods. Recently, nonprofit conservation groups representing all three Southside watersheds-the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Flint Riverkeeper, and the South River Watershed Alliance-collaborated to engage residents at the first ever Southside River Rendezvous. This model for a hands-on, one-day community water quality monitoring event was developed by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper over eight years ago to get Atlanta's Westside residents to get out and explore their local creeks, participate in finding and addressing water pollution sources, and learn more about the state of their local waterways.

During a River Rendezvous, residents collect water samples from dozens of pre-determined sites, document the condition of the stream, and return samples and surveys to a central lab for testing. Along the way, they meet neighbors, connect with experts, and share their knowledge of the local creeks. The Southside River Rendezvous attracted about 50 volunteers, including students from Georgia State University, a Boy Scout troop from College Park, local senior citizens, families, and other concerned residents of Clayton County and South Fulton to a recreation center centrally located in Riverdale, GA. After a quick training led by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, teams spread out across the southside with bridge samplers, coolers, and testing kits, then returned to the rec center with their samples and shared stories over a pizza lunch. The River Rendezvous team conducted a series of water tests to create a snapshot of water quality throughout the area and identified several sites that warranted follow-up testing in coordination with local utilities.

Model Ordinance for Post-Construction Stormwater Management
Barbara Seal, Gwinnett County, GA

The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (Metro District) Governing Board met on December 4, 2019, and approved the updated Model Ordinance for Post-Construction Stormwater Management for New Development and Redevelopment (Model Ordinance). This Model Ordinance aligns their existing Model Ordinance with the most recent changes to the GA MS4 NPDES Permits. A previous SESWA article noted the major changes in the current draft: inclusion of the Runoff Reduction (RR) requirements, additions to the Stormwater Management Plan requirements to comply with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), additions to the Final Inspection requirements, submittal requirements for existing BMPs during redevelopment, and clarification of the maintenance responsibilities in the event there is no BMP maintenance agreement. There are some topics that are optional, to be included by the local government if necessary; Trout Stream protection, Construction Sequencing, and Pre-development Hydrology. Visit the Metro District website to review the latest draft of the Model Ordinance for Post-Construction Stormwater Management.
Updates on Phase II Rulemaking and Water Quality Standards in Florida
Steve Peene, Applied Technology & Management, FL

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is presently going through rulemaking to update its generic Phase II MS4 permit.  The update is driven by the Final MS4 General Permit Remand Rule issued by EPA for Phase II permittees.  Some of the changes that are anticipated in the Phase II Generic Permit are more rigorous definitions of the Phase II permittees requirements in addressing TMDLs, along with new public noticing requirements that allow for third party review and challenge relative to the Notices of Intent (NOI) submitted in compliance with the Generic Permit Conditions.  At this time FDEP has noticed the rulemaking but no official version of the revised permit has been released.  Additionally, FDEP is going through their Triennial Review of water quality standards.  A specific proposed change that was of interest to MS4 permittees were efforts to define narrative turbidity criteria in freshwater systems that would not allow for impairment of ".....normal growth, function, reproduction or recruitment of aquatic life...".  Following extensive comments from the permitted community, FDEP withdrew this component.  
Update on North Carolina's MS4 Compliance Program Initiative
Dave Canaan, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, NC

In 2018, the EPA and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) launched the state's NPDES Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program Compliance Initiative. The objective is to protect water quality through program compliance, not regulatory enforcement. To date, 34 permit holders have been audited. Two communities have received a Notice of Compliance (NOC), three communities have received a Notice of Deficiency (NOD), 21 have received a Notice of Violation (NOV) and eight audits are pending a compliance decision. The 34 audits may not be representative of all MS4 permit holders in North Carolina. NC DEQ intentionally started with communities that may be struggling - again, with the objective of protecting water quality.

The most common deficiencies identified in the audits are: lacking required documentation, insufficient MS4 mapping, reactive (vs. proactive) approach to their Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination program, and inadequate housekeeping at municipal facilities. Permittees that receive an NOV are required to submit a written response to NC DEQ, conduct a self-audit, adopt a Council Resolution demonstrating support for a compliant stormwater program and draft a Stormwater Management Plan. Additional information can be found on the NC DEQ's website.
Richland County Launches Drains Aren't Dumps GeoTour
Synithia Williams, Richland County, SC

As part of a Drains Aren't Dumps outreach campaign, Richland County collaborated with the City of Columbia and One Columbia, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes cultural tourism, on a storm drain art contest. Local artists participated in a contest to select an original work of art that best demonstrates why residents should not dump items down the storm drain. The winning artist received $1,000 and her design painted on inlets in four locations: two library branches and two neighborhoods. To further bring attention to the art project and continue to educate citizens about why "Drains Aren't Dumps," Richland County launched a Stormwater GeoTour. Geocaching is a real world "treasure hunt" using an interactive map to discover new information about a place. A GeoTour brings geocachers to a specific location as part of a "tour" of the area. Three storm drain art locations received a geocache with information about storm water pollution. Participants who visit all three geocache locations and fill out the GeoTour Passport will receive a completion coin.
Biosolids Regulations
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

About 210,000 tons of Biosolids are produced each year in Florida.  Biosolids are a byproduct of wastewater treatment operations, and have high contents of nutrients and other pollutants.  About one-third is disposed of in landfills, another third is processed into Class AA Biosolids and sold as fertilizer, and the balance is dewatered and disinfected, and used as Class B Biosolids in certain farming operations.  Class B Biosolids retain high contents of nutrients and other pollutants, and can cause impairments of surface and groundwater.  In October 2019, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection published a draft rule updating permitting policies on the disposal of Biosolids in Florida.  The proposed rule significantly improved the criteria used to permit and monitor Biosolids disposal sites, and reflects the recommendations of the Department's Biosolids Technical Advisory Committee.  Due to its economic impact, the rule was required to be ratified by the Florida Legislature but was not finalized in time for such action.  However, general Biosolids legislation has been filed in both the House and Senate, and is expected to be considered and debated before the March 13th end of Florida's 2020 Session.  
Georgia Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant Solicitation

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) Nonpoint Source Management Program is pleased to announce the solicitation for the FY2020 Section 319(h) Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant.

The grant cost-share policy requires a maximum of 60% Federal dollars and a minimum of 40% Match toward the total project cost. Currently, the maximum Federal award to any individual project is $400,000. The maximum duration of any project is limited to three years.

All applicants are required to attend a teleconference/webinar with GAEPD Grants Unit Staff on Thursday, March 19, 2020 to discuss the current application process. Project partners, consultants, or other affiliated parties are welcome to attend, but the lead organization must be in attendance on-line.

Pre-application Webinar: Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 9:30am-10:30am (EST)
Dial-in number: 515-604-9811 Access code: 654429

In addition, Grants Unit Staff are available to review and comment in writing upon DRAFT applications if the documents are received in electronic format via email by March 31, 2020. The deadline to email the applications to GAEPD is April 30, 2020.

To inquire about proposals or to schedule a conference call, please contact Joyce McClain at or 404-651-8525.
NACWA Corner
Provided by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies
Emily Remmel, Director of Regulatory Affairs

Settlement Reached for New England MS4 Permit Litigation

After two years of negotiations, on December 27, 2019 EPA proposed settlement agreements for Massachusetts and New Hampshire's small municipal separate stormwater sewer system (MS4) permits. NACWA played an instrumental role working with impacted member utilities in these two states to negotiate a favorable settlement.

The original Massachusetts and New Hampshire permits required MS4s, under strict compliance schedules, to comply with water quality standards (WQS), in addition to the requirement to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable (MEP) as mandated by the Clean Water Act (CWA). 

This language was particularly problematic for permittees with TMDLs as it applied to phosphorus-impaired waterbodies. 

Under the proposed modified permits for Massachusetts and New Hampshire included in the settlement, EPA has eliminated the "cause and contribute to a water quality exceedance" language and has proposed an alternative, more flexible compliance schedule in situations where it is impracticable for permittees to comply with pollutant reductions. Other major modifications deal mostly with stormwater runoff from construction sites. 

In comments submitted to EPA ( EPA-HQ-OGC-2019-0685), NACWA supported the Agency entering into these settlement agreements, particularly since these permits originated with EPA itself (Massachusetts and New Hampshire do not have delegated authority under the CWA) and the concern that these permits would establish a broader national precedent for future MS4 permits across the country. NACWA appreciates EPA's willingness to make progress from the original permit language that was not only impracticable for permittees to comply with but, more concerningly, was outside the statutory boundary of the CWA. 

NACWA worked closely with its Massachusetts and New Hampshire members and the Massachusetts Coalition of Water Resources Stewardship on this case and would like to thank Legal Affiliate AquaLaw for its dedication in securing this positive outcome. 

If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA's Director of Regulatory Affairs.
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