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Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from small state and federally owned MS4 systems

June 9, 2021
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 small state and federally owned MS4 systems, MER042000 and W008163-5Y-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 small state and federally owned MS4 systems. We thank the Department of Environmental Protection for its considerable work to revise and advance the overall terms of the MS4 permit, consistent with the Clean Water Act and the Remand Rule.

We offer the following suggestions to enhance the permit.

1. MCM 1: Public Education
Most of the state entities regulated under this permit are educational institutions. We have observed students on the Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and University of Southern Maine campuses,¹ sitting in their cars for long periods of time idling their engines. The exhaust emitted from their vehicles contains nitrogen oxides (NOx), which collect on pavement and, during storms, are flushed through MS4 systems into waterways where they fertilize nuisance and possibly harmful algal blooms. For example, a storm sewer system from an SMCC parking lot near our office drains to a small beach along the Bay. This beach experiences nuisance algal blooms after storms during warm weather. We can identify no other nitrogen sources in the area. This MCM could target messaging to reduce idling and thereby help reduce nuisance algal blooms that degrade water quality.

2. MCM 2: Public Involvement and Participation
This control measure should include more measures to engage the public and students in the MS4 process.

1. MCM 5: Post Construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
This MCM should ensure that new development will mimic pre-development hydrology to the maximum extent practicable and that re-development will reduce and treat existing pollutant loads. The clear, specific, and measurable terms added to this permit appear to advance the tenets of the Remand Rule and goals of the CWA, but could be strengthened by adding the above language.

2. MCM 6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Facility Operations
The permit should augment the employee training in all service areas 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.

3. Discharges to Impaired Waters
Paragraph 1 of this section should be identical to paragraph 3. Small state and federal MS4s 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 just in the storm water management plan (SWMP). The SWMP is not an enforceable document. 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

¹ We believe, based on our observations, that this is likely occurring at other educational institutes
and entities also covered by this permit.