Earlier this month, members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) submitted comment letters expressing their concerns regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed use of Residual Designation Authority (RDA).
RDA is a little-known but significant provision in the Clean Water Act that allows EPA or a state administrator the authority to require permits for any stormwater discharge that impairs the quality of a waterbody. The permits could be required even for an unregulated source, and would be included in a new or existing NPDES program. RDA places further burden on the shoulders of municipalities, who are already struggling to fund water quality improvement projects.
In their letter to EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding, Massachusetts Congressional members cited EPA’s 2010 RDA pilot program for the towns of Milford, Franklin, and Bellingham, noting that the cost of compliance was then estimated at $180 million. MCWRS previously submitted a comment letter criticizing the RDA pilot program’s costs of compliance and impacts to municipal resources. In the 2010 program, EPA proposed targeting “all privately owned commercial, industrial, institutional, and high-density residential property” with two acres or more of impervious area in these three towns. Now EPA is proposing reducing the threshold from two acres down to one acre, and expanding the compliance area to the entire Charles River Watershed, which “could potentially result in billions of dollars in costs across the 35 municipalities in the watershed.”
In MassDEP’s letter to NAIOP Massachusetts – The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Commissioner Martin Suuberg voices concern that “invoking the RDA would be premature” while EPA Region 1 is still finalizing the Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit. Instead, Commissioner Suuberg believes that “we can pursue solutions to this difficult problem that addresses environmental needs in a thoughtful and economically viable way while creating further incentives for green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.”
The Coalition is pleased to have the support of MassDEP and our Congressional members in taking a stand against unwarranted compliance programs and measures.