Home » Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems

Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems

Gregg Wood
Rhonda Poirier
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
17 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of
Stormwater from Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike
Authority Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, MER043000 and Waste
Discharge License W008162-5Y-B-R

Dear Gregg and Rhonda,

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following comments regarding the draft General Permit for the discharge of stormwater from the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority MS4 systems. We thank the Department of Environmental Protection for its considerable work to revise and advance the overall terms of the MS4 permit.

We offer the following suggestions to make the permit consistent with the Remand Rule and flexible to meet future needs.

1. Expand the category from solely encompassing two dischargers, Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority, to Transportation Agencies generally.
A general permit may be written to cover one or more categories or subcategories of dischargers, including state highway systems and any other appropriate divisions. 40 CFR § 122.28 (a)(1); see also 40 CFR § 123.25 (extending General Permit authority to authorized States). In this instance, the draft permit covers only two entities, which is a pretty small category. The Department could consider writing the permit to cover transportation agencies generally. That way, if the types of public transit in the state increase, the permit could cover other transportation entities as “new dischargers.”

2. Consider making this a General Permit rather than a Two-Step Permit
Transportation agencies function differently than municipalities and this permit covers only two entities, not a large “category.” Because these agencies do not pass ordinances and will have more streamlined audiences for education, it would be simpler and sufficient to have a comprehensive general permit for transportation. In an ideal world, next permit cycle, this could be a subcategory of a general permit that regulates discharges from all MS4 entities, similar to the NH MS4 permit.

1. MCM 1: Public Education
Add the general public to the list of audiences. Education could be done at rest stops and through signs. For example, target messages could be aimed at reducing idling at rest stops to reduce emissions that collect on pavement and run off during storms, or at informing the public about reduced chloride use in target areas that drain to impaired or threatened waters.

2. MCM 2: Public Involvement and Participation
This control measure also should include more general public messaging and engage the public in the MS4 process.

3. MCM 3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) Program
Separate storm sewer systems for transportation entities likely carry different loads of pollutants than municipal separate storm sewer systems. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides from car exhaust may be prevalent in the runoff and contribute to water quality degradation and impairment. Chlorides are another likely major pollutant. For example, MDOT storm sewer discharges in or near urban impaired watersheds such as Long Creek are likely contributing to water quality impairments with their chloride discharges. The Department should consider the impacts of these pollutants and modify the IDDE program to detect and target reductions of these pollutants.

For wet weather assessments, add to d.vi “for discharges to urban impaired streams”, especially for those impaired in whole or in part by excess loads of chlorides.

4. MCM 4: Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
This control measure should set forth clear, specific, and measurable requirements to reduce pollution during construction. Transportation agencies covered by this permit should be required to minimize exposed earth during construction to the maximum extent practicable to avoid sediment runoff.

5. MCM 5: Post Construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
The Department should add a requirement to maintain green infrastructure or other measures designed to minimize stormwater runoff from new and re-development; this MCM should ensure that new development will mimic pre-development hydrology and that re-development will reduce and treat existing pollutant loads.

6. MCM 6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Facility Operations
The permit should augment the employee training to include education regarding how and when to apply road salt without undue risks to public safety. New Hampshire’s Green SnowPro program or the programs around Lake George in New York state may serve as models. The second step permit should include a plan to reduce chlorides pollution to prevent impermissible degradation of water quality or contribution to a violation of water quality standards for impaired waters.

7. Discharges to Impaired Waters
Paragraph 1 of this section should be identical to paragraph 3. Transportation agencies should be required to adopt three measures, in addition to what they are doing to meet other permit requirements, to begin to restore all impaired waters to which they discharge stormwater. These measures should be in the second step permit, not simply in the SWMP. The SWMP is not an enforceable document. In particular, this section of the permit should focus on reducing pollution from chlorides and car exhaust.

This section of the permit should be harmonized to be consistent with any changes made to the MS4 General Permit for Municipalities currently on appeal.

Thank you for considering our comments. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the ideas raised in these comments.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org