The Association to Preserve Cape Cod today reacted with strong opposition to news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has delayed implementation of the 2016 Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems General Permit just as the permit was to go into effect on July 1.
The new permit, known as the MS4 permit, updates a previous stormwater permit from 2003 by establishing revised stormwater management requirements for approximately 260 municipalities across the state, including most towns on Cape Cod. The MS4 permit was issued under the federal Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program that regulates discharges of pollutants into the waters of the U.S.
The revisions include more stringent requirements for municipalities to monitor stormwater discharges, identify and eliminate illicit discharges of runoff from pollution sources, manage stormwater from construction sites, implement better housekeeping practices to prevent stormwater pollution, provide public outreach on the value of managing stormwater runoff, and involve the public in developing and implementing stormwater management plans.
However, issuance of the new permit was appealed by several Massachusetts communities and organizations, which challenged the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to expand the requirements of the 2003 permit.
In a statement issued by the EPA, the federal agency said “postponing the effective date for one year pending judicial review should give EPA ample time to determine what, if any, changes are appropriate in the permit and to determine next steps.”
APCC maintains that the more stringent stormwater management requirements contained in the 2016 MS4 permit are urgently needed to address serious water quality issues created by pollution from stormwater discharges. Untreated runoff contains contaminants, including bacteria that result in closures of shellfish beds and beaches following storms, and nutrients that contribute to nutrient loading in ponds, streams and coastal waters.
"Despite claiming that clean water is a priority, this action is further evidence of the Trump administration's retreat from fundamental environmental protections,” stated Andrew Gottlieb, APCC’s executive director. “This delay makes our waters dirtier for longer and raises the costs of cleanup in the long run. With Cape towns working hard to restore our waters, the message from the federal government is ‘good luck, don't expect any help from us.’”