This newsletter is available exclusively to SESWA Members
July 2019
Volume 14, Issue 4

President's Corner
Laurie Hawks
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. 
- Thomas Edison -

I recently traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the kick off meeting of the US EPA Stormwater Infrastructure Finance Task Force. The Task Force was formed in response to the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which highlighted the need for more information on stormwater funding mechanisms across the country and their respective impact to long-term utility management and affordability.

A couple of observations:
  1. The Task Force consists of about 20 people from all types and sizes of private, local, and regional organizations who represent a wealth of experience and knowledge;
  2. The Task Force broke stormwater program financial needs into broad categories including water quality, water quantity, and "expanding expectations" from the community; 
  3. While the Task Force report to EPA and eventually Congress will include recommendations for the federal government's support in terms of tools and financing, local funding will remain the primary source of stormwater funding;
  4. There is a gap between the overall need to meet regulations and expectations and actual annual budgets; and many communities cannot quantify the former;
  5. The Task Force's charge is to provide recommendations on how to address the need vs. budget gap; and, 
  6. DC is a really cool historic city, but very hot in July!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or suggestions as we draft the Stormwater Finance and Funding Task Force recommendations in the next few months. 

Finally, don't forget to take advantage of discounted early-bird conference registration rates and book your hotel room for the Annual Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee! Our SESWA regional perspective is unique to stormwater organizations across the country. The educational, networking, and volunteer opportunities can't be beat!

Take Care, 

Laurie Hawks, Brown & Caldwell
SESWA President
Association News 
Join Us in Chattanooga, Tennessee! Early-Bird Rate Ends Soon!
The 14th Annual Regional Stormwater Conference will be held at the Chattanooga Marriott Downtown in Chattanooga, Tennessee on October 9-11, 2019. SESWA offers the only Regional Conference focused solely on stormwater education and challenges in stormwater management. The agenda was developed by your peers throughout the Southeast with YOU in mind. Plus there are two educational tracks, so you're sure to find topics that meet your needs. This year's Pre-Conference session will focus on asset management for stormwater systems, including a discussion of program development and tools needed along with the overall benefits and uses of these programs. Register by August 2nd to take advantage of discounted early-bird rates!
In This Issue
Communications Sponsors

SESWA Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Laurie Hawks
Brown and Caldwell

Vice President:
Scott Hofer
Jefferson County DOH, AL

Cory Rayburn
City of Atlanta, GA

Immediate Past President:
Hillary C. Repik
Town of Mt. Pleasant, SC

Board Representative:
Milton Leggett
City of Stuart, FL

To access a full listing of the SESWA Board of Directors, please click here.
Trends in Stormwater Utilities Webinar
SESWA's Trends in Stormwater Utilities in the Southeast - Findings from SESWA's 2019 Survey of Stormwater Utilities webinar was held on July 18, 2019. The webinar examined the results of the 2019 survey and Final Report and how practices in the Southeast compare from state to state. Trends in rates, credits, revenues and billing mechanisms were discussed. The webinar recording and presentation are currently available on the SESWA website thanks to the support of our communication sponsors. Members can view/download the SESWA 2019 Stormwater Utility Survey Report for free.
Membership Renewals!
Don't miss out on all of SESWA's member benefits, including this newsletter! If you haven't already renewed your membership this is your LAST newsletter, make sure your organization's primary contact renews today! If you aren't sure who your organization's primary contact is, contact SESWA as soon as possible!
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.

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! Your listings are accessible by job seekers anywhere. To post your vacancy, visit the Job Board on the SESWA website!
2019 Survey of Stormwater Utilities 
SESWA conducts a Survey of Stormwater Utilities practices and trends throughout the Southeast and publishes a Final Report on the results every two years. The Report provides easy access to questions concerning rates, structure, billing methods, and many other policies and practices in stormwater utilities throughout the Southeast. Information contained in the Report is widely used by local stormwater managers and state policy makers throughout Region 4. One USB Report has been provided to the primary contact within each SESWA member organization and to those non-members who returned a survey. Additional copies can be downloaded via the SESWA website, this resource is free to members. 
National and Regional News 
WOTUS - Litigation Update
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

There have been no developments in the action taken by SESWA and its co-plaintiffs seeking a Summary Judgement invalidating the 2015 WOTUS regulations. Reply briefs of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Intervenor environmental groups were filed in mid-April and SESWA's response to those briefs was filed April 19th. An order of the court could come at any time, perhaps as a final decision or to request oral arguments by the parties. SESWA's initial motion asks the Court to invalidate the 2015 WOTUS rule and was filed in an effort to proactively protect the interests of SESWA members and local stormwater programs in the event that a replacement rule is not adopted and finalized.
WOTUS - Replacement Rule
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

Concerning EPA's proposed WOTUS rule to replace the 2015 WOTUS regulations with less stringent policies there have been no developments. SESWA's comments on the proposed rule were submitted this past April and supported most of the provisions of the proposal. However, SESWA urged that EPA consider four revisions to the Agency's proposal:
  • Adjacent Wetlands: The term "adjacent wetlands" should be revised to include wetlands that are within a 100-year floodplain of a jurisdictional water, including those that are separated by a man-made or natural barrier from jurisdictional water or lack a direct hydrologic connection thereto.
  • Stormwater Control Feature Exclusions: The requirement that stormwater control features be constructed only in uplands to be excluded from being considered a jurisdictional water should be revised so that condition only applies to newly constructed features and not existing features. Thus, existing features not constructed in uplands would be "grandfathered-in" as exceptions to WOTUS.
  • Municipal Stormwater Systems: SESWA recommended that municipal stormwater systems be added to the list of waters specifically excluded from being a water of the United States and provided a definition for such systems.
  • Waste Treatment Systems: SESWA recommended that the definition of waste treatment systems that are excluded from being jurisdictional waters be revised to include stormwater.
General information on WOTUS may be found on EPA's WOTUS Rulemaking page and on SESWA's Advocacy Page.
SCOTUS Case May Not Resolve Liability for Groundwater Pollution
Kurt Spitzer, SESWA

The US Supreme Court has granted a request to review a case where municipal and other interests are hoping to reverse a pair of circuit court decisions imposing CWA liability for pollution that flows through groundwater into surface waters. The Court granted a request from the County of Maui (HI) this past February to review a decision rendered by the 9th Circuit Court in Hawai'i Wildlife Fund, et al., v. County of Maui, where the County was found liable for pollutants from a wastewater injection well that disposed of treated effluent into groundwater which eventually flowed into the Pacific Ocean. A similar decision by the 4th Circuit in a case over a pipeline spill, and a pair of 6th Circuit decisions that rejected CWA-groundwater liability for leaking coal ash disposal sites, so the Maui case seemed to be the vehicle for the high court to consider the water law's reach into groundwater pollution and resolve the split in the decisions of Circuit Courts. But despite its position thus far, the County Council is now seeking to settle the case out of court in order to avoid a scenario where a decision in the County's favor might end up limiting the CWA nationwide. The Court goes back into session in October.
Around the Southeast
Study Results: Septic System Impacts to Surface Water Quality in Dry Weather
Katherine Atteberry, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, GA
Laurie Hawks, Brown & Caldwell

In 2018, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (the District) assessed the need for additional management policies for septic systems to protect surface water quality. Microbial source tracking (MST) with the HF183 Human DNA Marker (HF183) was used to evaluate the potential link between human associated fecal contamination and septic system density. An initial study was conducted during dry weather events only. It also evaluated the relationship between septic density and both fecal coliform and nutrient (nitrate and dissolved phosphorous) concentrations. In five dry weather events, samples were collected across nine subwatersheds of varying septic system density. The results showed no significant correlations between HF183 and septic density. Additionally, no correlations were identified between septic density and fecal coliform or dissolved phosphorus. However, a significant correlation was found between nitrate and septic density.

Based on these findings, management actions targeting septic systems are not likely to impact fecal coliform or phosphorous concentrations in these streams during dry weather. Study recommendations are to conduct a wet weather septic impact investigation, consider further sample analysis for other sources of fecal coliform using different MST markers (e.g., chicken, cow) to identify and address non-human fecal coliform sources, and communicate study findings.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Works with Concrete Facilities for Post Construction Compliance
Kristen O'Reilly, City of Charlotte, NC

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services is finding that many local concrete facilities are using their stormwater detention/retention basins to treat process water. Routing process water to the basins helps facilities comply with monitoring benchmarks and effluent limits in their NPDES industrial stormwater permit. Unfortunately, this is putting them in non-compliance with local stormwater post construction and detention ordinances because they were not designed to manage both.

Once aware of this issue, the City of Charlotte began working with concrete facilities to help bring them into compliance with both sets of regulations. Compliance will need to be achieved by re-routing process water to structures built only for process water or by physically modifying existing stormwater basins to increase capacity and/or retention time.

If you have any questions or want more information on this topic, please email Kristen O'Reilly, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.
Atlanta DWM Rolls Out Adopt-A-Drain Program
Tanisha Lawson, City of Atlanta, GA

In April 2019, the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) launched an Adopt-A-Drain program to help inform citizens about infrastructure maintenance needs. The Adopt-A-Drain program encourages volunteers to adopt a storm drain in or near their neighborhoods, commit to cleaning the drain of leaves and other debris and then monitor the condition of that drain for the duration of the adoption. Residents who adopt a drain are given simple guidelines to follow and instructions on how to notify DWM of any problems with the drain. In exchange for agreeing to adopt a drain, volunteers receive a storm drain cleaning supply kit that includes: a bow rake, push broom, compostable leaf bags, a safety vest and glasses, and a pair of work gloves.
Underground Stormwater Features - Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Paul Slovisky, Aquascape Environmental

Many metropolitan areas nowadays are tall on people, but short on open space for a conventional detention pond. For stormwater, this has forced many developers to shift to underground management features to free up valuable, useable space. Unfortunately, going sub-terranean with your stormwater management practices comes with its own set of complications that are often times not properly considered. With these devices being below grade, they often go unnoticed and unchecked for long periods of time. With the frequent turnover of ownership of commercial properties and residential HOA boards, we often hear this feedback, "I had no idea we had an underground stormwater feature!" Public education specific to underground systems and focusing on the importance of inspections and maintenance seems to be lacking. In order to ensure the long term effectiveness of these features, a renewed effort to educate underground stormwater owners would benefit the owners and our water resources.  Visit the Community Forum to continue the discussion.
Certification Does Not Always Equal Proficiency
John Butler, Gwinnett County, GA

Complaints of poorly designed Erosion & Sedimentation Control (E&SC) Plans are on the rise despite designers being licensed and certified. Here are a few tactics to encourage better E&SC Plans:
  1. A rigorous inspection schedule and consistent enforcement can lead to designers learning how to comply with the expectations and requirements of your jurisdiction.
  2. Creation of a "grading system" to score firms where high scores are rewarded with faster review times and low scores are handled at the regular pace.
  3. Firms often experience turnover leading to inexperienced E&SC designers. Hold a field day to invite developers and consultants to see demonstrations of good and bad Plans and BMPs.
Tennessee Permanent Stormwater Management Requirements Update
John Ricketts, AECOM
Don Green, City of Chattanooga, TN

Tennessee's permanent stormwater management requirements are slowly moving forward to finalization and entering their way into the state's MS4 permits. On July 15, 2019, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TDEC, held a hearing to accept comments on the proposed permanent stormwater language, which was prepared as part of the settlement agreement between TDEC, environmental groups and the Home Builders Association because of the appeals to the 2016 permit that the environmental groups and the Home Builders levied against TDEC. Review comments on the proposed permanent stormwater management language had to be submitted to TDEC no later than July 25, 2019. Based on state law, these proposed changes need to be approved through rule making by the Water Quality Board. Once approved, the changes, if any, have to be approved by the environmental groups and the Home Builders. Once all of these parties have approved the permanent stormwater management language, then TDEC can prepare a revised Phase II MS4 NPDES draft permit, which will likely go out for public review and comment in Spring 2020. Permanent stormwater management is coming to Tennessee, just a little slower than expected.
Georgia Pushes for Better Use of MS4 Data To Assist In Water Quality Assessment
Cameron Wolfe, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, GA
Laurie Hawks, Brown & Caldwell

Georgia's most recent Phase I Large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits include a new requirement to help delist impaired waters. Bacteria from nonpoint sources is one of the most prevalent water quality issues in Georgia; in fact, the State has approximately 4,895-miles of streams that are listed as non-supporting for bacteria, according to the 2018 303(d)/305(b) list. Georgia MS4s collect data through their Impaired Waters Plan for each impaired water into which their MS4 discharges; however, this data had not been used for stream listing or delisting purposes. When the Phase I Large MS4 permits were reissued in June 2019, MS4s with a population greater than 10,000 were required, for the first time, to prepare a Sampling Quality and Assurance Plan (SQAP) if two years of bacteria data demonstrate that a stream is consistently meeting water quality standards. SQAPs, once approved, allow monitoring data collected by MS4s to be used in Georgia's biannual assessment of waterbodies. This targeted increase in SQAPs is anticipated to provide valuable data to better assess Georgia's waters and assist in the goal of having all the State's waters supporting their designated use.
NACWA Corner 
Provided by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies
Emily Remmel, Director of Regulatory Affairs 

EPA Drops RDA Appeal to 4th Circuit, Another Lawsuit on Horizon
As reported in the SESWA September 2018 newsletter, environmental advocacy groups scored their first victory in a California district court requiring the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) to broaden the universe of facilities subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The argument centered on residual designation authority (RDA) - a rarely applied piece of the CWA (Section 402(p)(2)(e)).

EPA can use its RDA to require NPDES permits for other stormwater discharges or categories of discharges on a case-by-case basis when it determines that the discharges contribute to a violation of water quality standards or when discharges are a significant contributor of pollutants to waters of the United States. In the case at hand, Los Angeles River Waterkeeper v. Pruitt, the sources were privately-owned commercial, industrial, and institutional sites (CII sources).

In Los Angeles River Waterkeeper, EPA failed to identify a provision in the CWA where EPA "may consider whether other federal, state, or local programs adequately address the known stormwater discharge contribution to a violation of water quality standards." It was believed that EPA would appeal this case to the 9th Circuit, but the Agency did not. 

On May 22, 2019, a similar RDA case, Blue Water Baltimore v. Wheeler, also prevailed for environmental groups in a Maryland District Court. The Los Angeles River Waterkeeper case played a significant factor in Blue Water Baltimore v. Wheeler where the Court stated the "same logic applies here." On June 6, EPA dropped its appeal to the 4th Circuit meaning the Agency will comply with Court orders, although there is no clear next step from EPA on how they will do so.

On June 26, a Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue was filed by the Western Environmental Law Center against EPA for the failure to perform mandatory duties under the CWA. The NOI points to the Los Alamos National Laboratory and urban runoff from impervious surfaces, post-development erosion and industrial/commercial stormwater discharges are causing or contributing to water quality degradation.

NACWA is closely following these cases and the evolution of the RDA provision within the CWA as well as how EPA will meet the court orders. Although these cases exemplify how the RDA provision can be used as an expansion to include CII sources, there is a possibility that other sources of stormwater pollution could also be included.

Stay tuned for more updates. Please contact  Emily Remmel , NACWA's Director of Regulatory Affairs, for more information or with any questions .
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