Monthly Archives: October 2014

Clean Water Comes at a Cost: EPA Releases Draft Massachusetts MS4 Permit

On September 30, 2014 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1 released a new Draft Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit for public comment. This permit, once finalized, will establish significant new stormwater management requirements in over 200 communities in the Commonwealth. Managing stormwater runoff is necessary to protect or enhance the quality of fresh and salt water bodies, aquatic habitat and drinking water sources. While the MS4 permit requirements may produce some environmental benefits, they will require significant work for and investment from municipal governments. Competing demands and dwindling budgets will make complying with the permit challenging or impossible for many municipalities, opening them up to potential enforcement action by regulators.  The new draft permit also continues to include controversial provisions that conflict with the limited scope of municipal stormwater pollution control required under the Clean Water Act.

Over the last decade, EPA has required cities and towns to maintain tighter control of municipal storm drain systems. The previous draft North Coastal and Interstate, Merrimack and South Coastal (IMS) Small MS4 draft permits have now been combined into a single revised draft Massachusetts permit. MCWRS’s mission includes the protection of municipalities’ interests in an ever changing regulatory environment, and this permit is a prime example of the type of regulatory control that has a direct and substantial impact on our members. Over the next few months, MCWRS will review the Draft MS4 Permit and prepare comments for EPA’s consideration. Stay tuned – we will post our comments on our website.

EPA will host a public informational meeting in Haverhill on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 8:00 AM and additional meetings are to be scheduled by the agency across the state.  For more information and to review the Draft MS4 Permit and its appendices, visit EPA’s website. The 495/MetroWest Partnership has also organized a meeting with EPA on Wednesday, October 22. For more information and to RSVP, please email

MCWRS urges its members and other interested parties to submit their comments before the comment period closes on December 29, 2014.  Members are also encouraged to contact MCWRS about specific issues with the permit and to copy us on their comments.