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New York City Proposes First Stormwater Management Program Regulating Construction Runoff

For the first time, the City of New York has proposed a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) to describe how the City will satisfy the requirements of its SPDES Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit.  This means that, as soon as this fall, certain large construction projects in the City will need City Department of Environmental Protection approval of their stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) before they can break ground.

The City’s MS4 Permit, which was issued on August 1, 2015, regulates drainage areas where stormwater flows into the City’s separate storm sewers, into combined sewers downstream of the combined sewer overflow regulator, and to other specified areas that ultimately discharge to surface by outfalls or overland into waters of the State.  The MS4 Permit requires the City to develop an SWMP to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff in these drainage areas, and identifies the means and methods by which the City will do so.

As concerns land development, the MS4 Permit requires the City to administer an enhanced regulatory program based on the existing NYSDEC Stormwater Construction General Permit (CGP).  This is important for New York City developers because, for the first time, the City will “complement” the NYSDEC CGP program by reviewing and approving SWPPPs prepared by developers.  Previously, SWPPPs did not require any governmental review or approval (except by NYSDEC in a few specific instances).

As part of this oversight, the City will issue Stormwater Construction Permits and Stormwater Maintenance Permits. The City’s Stormwater Construction Permit requires that the people who work on the project manage the construction site in accordance with the SWPPP. During construction, DEP may inspect a site to verify compliance with the SWPPP. When construction is complete, the owner must apply for a Stormwater Maintenance Permit, which requires long-term operations and maintenance of any stormwater management practices (SMPs). DEP may periodically inspect sites to verify that SMPs are properly maintained and functioning.  Proposed Rules for the City’s new Construction and Post-Construction Program are anticipated to be published in June 2018, and are anticipated to be adopted within 30 days from SWMP Plan approval.

Most chapters of the Draft SWMP Plan include a description of any relevant existing City programs; new initiatives and/or program enhancements; and measureable goals for future assessment of the program.  The Draft SWMP Plan was released to the public on April 4, 2018. The public is invited to submit comments on the Draft SWMP Plan online from April 4, 2018 through May 15, 2018 by e-mailing [email protected]. DEP will also hold two stakeholder meetings to provide background on the Plan and to accept verbal comments from meeting attendee: April 24, 2018, 6:30-8:30pm at the Arsenal at Central Park, and May 2, 2018, 5:30-7:30pm at the Staten Island Borough Hall.

For additional information about the SWMP plan and stormwater management in New York City and beyond, contract Michael Bogin or Maggie Macdonald.