MS4 operators should pay attention to the latest news from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The department has published the proposed regulations for renewing the General VPDES Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (proposed 2018 MS4 General Permit) in the Virginia Register of Regulation.

The proposed 2018 MS4 General Permit contains the conditions that MS4 operators must comply with between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2023. The proposed general permit contains numerous modifications, as DEQ has attempted to address the requirements of the 2016 federal MS4 General Permit Remand Rule.

Doug Fritz, GKY’s permit specialist, explained that government clients “have to be aware of these upcoming changes and be able to address them.” Otherwise, they may be caught off guard by some of the permit’s wording or stipulations.

Importantly, DEQ has drafted language that inserts the enforceable components of MS4 programs into the proposed 2018 MS4 General Permit itself. Other documents, such as the MS4 Program Plan and TMDL Action Plans, will be considered planning documents and not enforceable.

Of course, this type of permit is not new. Doug has been helping clients comply with MS4 General Permits ever since the first version was issued in 2003. Every five years, the state authorizes a new edition of the permit. The current version is set to expire on June 30, so the 2018 permit should be in full effect by July 1.

It’s not clear when the final version of the permit will be ready. DEQ will wait for public comments before making any lasting changes to the regulations.

Still, it’s important that affected organizations pay attention now, to make sure they are ready for the new regulations this summer. Doug said that groups may face financial penalties or may even have to apply for costly individual permits, if they don’t comply with the conditions in the proposed 2018 MS4 General Permit.

What does Doug recommend as next steps for municipal organizations? Find out more about the proposed permit, and ask for help from experts. You can also send in public comments about the proposed regulations right now as DEQ is accepting comments until March 9.

“We want clients to be aware that it’s out there for public comment, to make sure that nothing surprises them, or if there’s something that they’re concerned about, they can submit their comments to DEQ during the public comment period,” Doug said.

He also recommends that MS4 operators take their time to really think through their plans for compliance. Registration statements are proposed to be due 30 days before the expiration of the current permit, instead of the typical 90 days. So, organizations have more time than usual to formulate their responses.

Though the timeline is a little longer, Doug still wants everyone to be prepared. “Registrations have to be in by June 1, and GKY can assist with the process,” he said.

You can find out more information about the proposed 2018 MS4 General Permit and the associated public comment period at the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall.

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