HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is accepting comments on the renewal of a draft General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). The comment period will run from Sept. 19 until Oct. 21, 2016.
“We appreciate the time and effort spent by the stakeholders,” said DEQ Water Protection Permitting Supervisor Rainey DeVaney. “Improving stormwater quality is very important to Montana.”
In Montana, the permitted cities are Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Bozeman, Helena, Butte and Kalispell. Other permittees include Cascade, Missoula and Yellowstone counties, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana State University and the University of Montana.
Stormwater means surface runoff, snowmelt, and drainage. Stormwater runoff picks up and carries pollutants such as insecticides, pesticides, salt, litter and sediment, then discharges them to waterways via storm sewer systems. Potential stormwater discharges from urbanized areas are a concern because of the amount of hard surfaces such as city streets and parking lots and possible impacts to residential, commercial and open space property. Another concern is the possible illegal connections of sanitary sewers, which can result in fecal coliform bacteria entering the storm sewer system.
The proposed renewal is the fourth iteration of the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Small MS4s. The current permit became effective Jan. 1, 2015, and expires on Dec. 31, 2016. Among other things, the proposed permit requires public education and involvement based on pollutants of concern and development of enforcement response plans for illegal discharges of stormwater.
To support the General Permit renewal process, the DEQ and the permitted MS4 cities participated in a working group to cooperatively discuss Montana-specific issues with implementation of the MS4 program. Other participating stakeholders included MS4 counties and non-traditional permittees, the EPA and non-governmental organizations.
The draft discharge permit, fact sheet and environmental analysis can be found here: http://deq.mt.gov/Public/notices/WQnotices. A public hearing will be held at 1 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2016, in Room 111 of the Lee Metcalf Building located at 1520 E. Sixth Ave. in Helena, Mont.
Public comments will be accepted until Oct. 21, 2016. Comments may be directed to the DEQ Water Protection Bureau, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620. All comments received or postmarked before the close of business will be considered in the formulation of final determinations to be imposed on the permits. Comments may also be emailed to the Department at DEQWPBPublicComments@mt.gov .
DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in the public meeting. If you require an accommodation, please contact Jenna Stamper at 406-444-3080 at least three days before the meeting.
For more information or to set up an interview for this story, please contact Lisa Peterson at 406-444-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.