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Storm Water ManagementBrief SummaryOverview Description of Storm Water Management in the Rouge WatershedMichigan General Storm Water PermitApplying for a Michigan General Storm Water PermitGuidance Materials for Applying for a General Storm Water PermitPhase II Federal Storm Water RuleSubwatershed Management Planning
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Michigan General Storm Water Permit


MDEQ Permits for General Storm Drainage Systems in Phase I and Phase II Communities

In accordance with rules issued by USEPA, municipalities and other public bodies that operate a separate storm water drainage system within the U.S. Census defined urbanized area will be required to apply for a permit by March 10, 2003 to maintain authorization to discharge storm water. Municipalities in Michigan will have two permit options for permit coverage of separate storm water drainage systems. For additional details on these options, click here.

The two permit options MDEQ is offering for discharges from separate storm water system are summarized below.

  • Jurisdictional storm water general permit (Permit No. MIS040000). (The reader should check the MDEQ web site for the latest information on the status of this permit). This traditional general permit contains prescriptive storm water control measures that will be required within the jurisdiction of the permittee. These include requirements for public education and public involvement, illicit discharge elimination, construction and post construction storm water controls, and good housekeeping and pollution prevention practices for municipal operations

  • Watershed-based storm water general permit (Permit No. MIG610000). This is the watershed based General Storm Water Permit being implemented in the Rouge River Watershed. To view the application for this permit and the permit itself, click here. This permit is final and currently available across the State. Although the watershed based General Storm Water Permit addresses the same basic requirements as the traditional general permit described above, the watershed based permit provides much greater flexibility in how these basic requirements (public education and public involvement, illicit discharge elimination, construction and post construction storm water controls, and good housekeeping and pollution prevention practices for municipal operations) are selected and implemented. The watershed based General Storm Water Permit also requires cooperative interaction with other public bodies outside the permittees jurisdiction. This cooperative approach is designed to accomplish storm water quality improvements watershed-wide, and provides an added benefit of cost sharing for some storm water controls. Watershed-wide controls means that many public bodies that discharge storm water to the same river or lake develop controls together, and implement them as part of a coordinated strategy.

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS ONLY APPLICABLE TO THE WATERSHED BASED GENERAL STORM WATER PERMIT (PERMIT NO. MIG610000) WHICH IS BEING USED IN THE ROUGE RIVER WATERSHED. FOR INFORMATION ON THE JURISDICTIONAL GENERAL STORM WATER PERMIT, PLEASE VISIT THE MDEQ WEB PAGE.


Background On the Watershed Based Michigan General Storm Water Permit

See the Overview Description of Storm Water Management in the Rouge Watershed for a discussion of the process that led to the development of the watershed based Michigan General Storm Water Permit.


Applying for a Michigan Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit

Please click on the following for information on Applying for a watershed based Michigan General Storm Water Permit. Click on the following to view example applications for MDEQ Watershed Based General Storm Water Permits from Wayne County and Canton.


Watershed Based Michigan General Storm Water Permit

The innovative, watershed based General Waste Water Discharge Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Separate Storm Water Drainage Systems (Permit Number MIG610000) was issued on July 31, 1997. This General Permit was "voluntary". It was voluntary since there was no legal requirement for most storm sewers to have a permit at that point in time. However, those granted coverage under the voluntary general permit would be just as bound by its conditions as any other NPDES discharger. The permit was viewed as an opportunity to demonstrate that a flexible, locally-driven program will be effective in dealing with wet weather issues. It was the conclusion by MDEQ that if this overall approach could be proven effective, it is expected that the jurisdictions with coverage under this permit would continue the locally driven program in lieu of the coming USEPA Phase II program.

The watershed based General Storm Water Permit incorporates the following elements:

  • As stated above, coverage is voluntary until the permits under the USEPA's Phase II storm water program are required. It is important to note that USEPA endorsed Michigan's proposal to use the Voluntary Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit in lieu of permits that would otherwise be required by the Phase II regulations.;
  • Only public agencies who own, operate, or control storm water are provided the opportunity for coverage;
  • Subwatershed size is established by the potential permittees during the application process;
  • Application and permit process have limited required actions, the focus is to establish desired outcomes.

The watershed based General Storm Water Permit requires permittee to develop certain items that are to be submitted with the permit application and certain other items will be submitted during the life of the permit. To view the complete application and accompanying information developed by MDEQ, click here.


Information to be submitted with the Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit Application

As shown on the permit application, there are a number of items that must be submitted. The items that require significant effort are delineated below.

  • General Information. The applicant shall 1) identify its legal name and mailing address, 2) identify the proposed watershed boundaries, 3) identify the location of known point source discharges of storm water for which coverage is requested and their receiving waters, and 4) provide a map of drainage area indicating the hydrologic boundary and approximate square miles of area covered. Requirements 3) and 4) would be satisfied by providing a map of the separate storm water drainage system.

Information to be submitted during the life of the Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit

The following items must be developed and submitted during the term of the watershed based General Storm Water Permit.

  • Illicit Discharge Elimination Plan (IDEP). An illicit discharge is the introduction of polluting materials into a pipe that drains to surface water or the dumping of polluting material that can impact surface water. This is a broader definition than the "classical" definition of sanitary plumbing fixtures connected to a storm sewer. The Rouge Project found there were a number of illicit discharges that were adversely impacting water quality. Examples found in the Rouge River watershed include toilets connected to storm sewers, laundry waste discharging to a drain, swimming pool backwash water discharging to a storm sewer or situations where polluting material can move over land to a storm sewer.

    The IDEP has the goal of eliminating raw sewage discharges and includes addressing failing septic systems and improper connections of sanitary sewers to storm drains and open waterways. The IDEP is due at the time of permit application. At a minimum, the Illicit Discharge Elimination Plan must include the following:
    1. a description of a program to find, prioritize, and eliminate illicit discharges and illicit connections identified during dry weather screening activities;
    2. a description of a program to minimize infiltration of seepage from sanitary sewers and septic systems into the applicant's separate storm water drainage system.

  • Public Education Plan (PEP). The PEP is designed to inform residents and businesses what actions they should take to protect the river. The PEP is due at the time of permit application. The Public Education Plan shall promote, publicize, and facilitate watershed education for the purpose of encouraging the public to reduce the discharge of pollutants in storm water to the maximum extent practicable. The Public Education Plan may involve combining with or coordinating existing programs for public stewardship of water resources. Pollution prevention shall be encouraged. The plan shall be designed to accomplish the following as appropriate based on the potential impact on the watershed:
    1. encouragement of public reporting of the presence of illicit discharges or improper disposal of materials into the applicant's separate storm water drainage system;
    2. education of the public on the availability, location and requirements of facilities for disposal or drop-off of household hazardous wastes, travel trailer sanitary wastes, chemicals, grass clippings, leaf litter, animal wastes, and motor vehicle fluids;
    3. education of the public regarding acceptable application and disposal of pesticides and fertilizers;
    4. education of the public concerning preferred cleaning materials and procedures for residential car washing;
    5. education of the public concerning the ultimate discharge point and potential impacts from pollutants from the separate storm water drainage system serving their place of residence;
    6. education of the public about their responsibility and stewardship in their watershed; and
    7. education of the public concerning management of riparian lands to protect water quality.
  • Watershed Management Plan prepared in cooperation with others, to resolve water quality concerns. The Watershed Management Plan is typically due two years after the certificate of coverage is issued to the applicant. The planning is iterative in nature. The completed plan is not subject to MDEQ approval. The first revision of the Watershed Management Plan is due prior to permit expiration. This is intended to support the concept of planning being an iterative process. The MDEQ states the following: "We expect frequent revisions to the Plan. And we hope that, due to the frequency of revisions, stakeholders will be willing to support Plans that are less than fully satisfactory to them, i.e. their concerns can be fully addressed in the next iteration."

    As a minimum, the Watershed Management Plans shall contain:
    • an assessment of the nature and status of the watershed ecosystem to the extent necessary to achieve the purpose of the watershed management plan,
    • definition of the short-term goals for the watershed,
    • definition of the long-term goals for the watershed, which shall include protection of designated uses of the receiving waters as defined in Michigan's Water Quality Standards,
    • determination of the actions needed to achieve the short-term goals for the watershed,
    • determination of the actions needed to achieve the long-term goals for the watershed,
    • assessment of both the benefits and costs of the actions identified above (a "cost/benefit analysis" is not required),
    • commitments, identified by specific permittee or others as appropriate, to implement actions by specified dates necessary to achieve the short-term goals,
    • commitments, identified by specific permittee or others as appropriate, to implement actions by specified dates necessary to initiate achievement of the long-term goals, and
    • methods for evaluation of progress, which may include chemical or biological indicators.

  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative (SWPPI). The SWPPI is a subset of the Watershed Management Plan and is typically due 2.5 years after the certificate of coverage is issued to the applicant. The following are the SWPPI requirements as stated in the permit:

    The permittee shall submit an approvable Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative and implementation schedule to the MDEQ District Supervisor of the Surface Water Quality Division by the date specified in the certificate of coverage. The Program shall be designed and implemented to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable, shall be consistent with the Watershed Management Plan, and shall include those actions expected to be implemented over the term of the permit. The Program shall be implemented upon approval of the MDEQ. The Program shall include, as a minimum:

    1. The actions required of the permittee in the Watershed Management Plan in accordance with the dates specified, taking into account any specific disagreements to the Watershed Management Plan which were provided by the permittee and included in the appendix to the Plan. (Note: if the Watershed Management Plan requirement has been deferred until a later time, as indicated on the certificate of coverage, the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative shall initially be developed without consideration of the Watershed Management Plan.)
    2. Evaluation and implementation of pollution prevention and good housekeeping activities, as appropriate. The permittee shall consider the following activities for inclusion in the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative:
      • maintenance activities, maintenance schedules, and inspection procedures for storm water structural controls to reduce pollutants (including floatables) in discharges from the permittee's separate storm water drainage system,
      • controls for reducing or eliminating the discharges of pollutants from streets, roads, highways and parking lots,
      • procedures for the proper disposal of operation and maintenance waste from the separate storm water drainage system (dredge spoil, accumulated sediments, floatables, and other debris),
      • ways to ensure that new flood management projects assess the impacts on the water quality of the receiving waters and, whenever possible, examine existing projects for incorporation of additional water quality protection devices or practices, and
      • implementation of controls to reduce the discharge of pollutants related to application of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers applied in the permittee's jurisdiction.
    3. Evaluation and implementation of site appropriate, cost-effective structural and nonstructural best management practices (BMPs) to minimize the water quality impacts from areas of new development and significant redevelopment. The goal is to protect the designated uses in the receiving waters from the effects commonly associated with urbanization.
    4. The methods of assessing progress in storm water pollution preventionand a schedule for submittal of annual reports to the MDEQ District Supervisor on implementation status and pollution prevention progress. At a minimum, the annual progress reports shall include:
      1. documentation of actions taken to eliminate illicit discharges (for significant illicit discharges, the pollutant(s) of concern, the estimated volume and load discharged, and location of the discharge into the permittee's separate storm sewer system and into the receiving water shall be provided),
      2. schedules for elimination of illicit connections identified but not eliminated,
      3. documentation of the public education effort and evaluation of its effectiveness,
      4. documentation of other actions taken to reduce the discharge of pollutants in storm water.
    5. Designated contact person: On or before 60 days after the effective date of the certificate of coverage, the permittee shall designate a storm water program manager to serve as the contact person for the MDEQ regarding activities carried out to comply with this permit. The permittee may replace the program manager at any time and shall notify the MDEQ District Supervisor within ten days after the replacement.
    6. Retention of records. The latest approved version of the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative shall be retained until at least three years after coverage under this permit terminates. All records and information resulting from the assessment of Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative effectiveness , including all records of analyses performed and calibration and maintenance of instrumentation and recordings from continuous monitoring instrumentation, shall be retained for a minimum of three years or longer if requested by the MDEQ or the USEPA Regional Administrator.

    The SWPPI must be reviewed at least 180 days prior to permit expiration and a revised SWPPI (if appropriate) must be submitted to the MDEQ for approval with the permittee's request to continue a discharge authorized under the permit. The revised SWPPI shall be consistent with revisions made to the Watershed Management Plan.

  • Monitoring and Reporting. All NPDES permits have specific requirements for the permittee to conduct necessary water quality monitoring and to report on other items such as progress being made, status of compliance with the permit requirements, etc. The watershed based General Storm Water Permit has similar such monitoring and reporting requirements including schedule for revisions to the Watershed Management Plan.

Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit Guidance and Example Documents

Five basic guidance documents were originally developed for use by any community in applying for and then implementing the watershed based General Storm Water Permit. These guidance documents explained the individual requirements of the General Permit and provided valuable information to the potential permittees on what should be contained in each of the required parts of the watershed based General Storm Water Permit including the permit application. The original have been updated to reflect the more extensive knowledge gained by MDEQ, the local communities and other permittees on how to more effectively implement the watershed based General Storm Water Permit.. The first guidance document listed below was prepared by the MDEQ whereas the other four documents were prepared by the Rouge Project working with the local communities. Those documents are available by clicking on the appropriate item.

State of Michigan Guidance: Michigan's Watershed Based MS4 Voluntary General Permit

Rouge Project Guidance:
Subwatershed Management Plan Guidance
Public Education/Information Plan Guidance
Illicit Discharge Elimination Plan Guidance
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative Guidance

To help explain the philosophy behind the watershed based General Storm Water Permit and to elaborate on the information contained in the above referenced guidance documents, the Rouge Project conducted three workshops in 1997 for the communities in the Watershed to assist them in complying with the requirements of the watershed based General Storm Water Permit. Several guidance documents were prepared for use in those workshops. Those documents are available by clicking on the following:

General Storm Water Permit: Why Volunteer to be Regulated?
Community Project Guide to Managing Grants
Improving Community Storm Water Management: A Summary Guide of Ordinances

Example Applications for the MDEQ Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit

As stated earlier, the three counties, most of the communities, and other agencies within the Rouge Watershed have applied for the watershed based General Storm Water Permit. By clicking on the following, example applications for Wayne County and the city of Canton can be viewed.

Example Submissions of the Completed Subwatershed Management Plans

The seven subwatershed groups comprised of Rouge River communities have developed watershed management plans and submitted them to MDEQ in accordance with the requirements of the Michigan General Storm Water Permit. The subwatershed management plans do not require state approval; however, the individual pollution prevention initiatives emanating from the watershed planning process require state approval as the activities specified in the initiatives become permit requirements upon approval. The subwatershed management plans are now being implemented. To view any of the individual subwatershed management plan, click on Completed Subwatershed Management Plans.

Example Submissions of the Illicit Discharge Elimination Program (IDEP)

A complete description of the Rouge Project's Illicit Discharge Elimination Program (IDEP) can be viewed by clicking on the above.

As stated earlier, the three counties, most of the communities, and other agencies within the Rouge Watershed have applied for the watershed based General Storm Water Permit. The permit requires communities to develop IDEPs which must be submitted with the permit application. By clicking on the following, example IDEPs for Bloomfield Township and Canton can be viewed.

Example Submissions of the Public Education Program (PEP)

The Rouge Project's strategy for a comprehensive public involvement and education program to support Rouge River restoration activities has been a success. Since the Rouge Project's inception in 1992, it was clear that public education and involvement programs were a cornerstone of the restoration of the Rouge River. A complete description of the Rouge Project's Public Involvement and Education Program can be viewed by clicking on the above.

As stated earlier, the three counties, most of the communities, and other agencies within the Rouge Watershed have applied for the watershed based General Storm Water Permit. The general permit requires permittees to develop and implement public education programs. By clicking on the following, example public education plans for Bloomfield Township and Canton can be viewed.

Example Information on the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative (SWPPI)

As discussed above, a key component of the watershed based General Storm Water Permit is the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative (SWPPI). The SWPPI identifies the specific responsibilities of the permittee to implement the watershed management plans with specific compliance dates included. The program is subject to MDEQ approval and is enforceable thereafter. It includes evaluation and implementation of pollution prevention and good housekeeping practices, the evaluation and implementation of BMPs to minimize impacts of new development and redevelopment, and assessment of progress and reporting.

Below are materials to assist communities and agencies in development of the SWPPI. Some files require Adobe Acrobat Reader (files ending in .pdf). This free software can be obtained at http://www.adobe.com/.
Other software required includes Microsoft Office 97 products:
Microsoft Word (files ending in .doc)
Microsoft Excel (files ending in .xls)
Microsoft PowerPoint (files ending in .ppt)

If you are unable to read files from Microsoft Office 97, please contact Michael Flowers at (313) 224-8284.

PowerPoint Presentations given at SWPPI workshop.
As discussed earlier, the Rouge Project conducted a workshop on the preparation of the SWPPI. The PowerPoint presentation used in that workshop is presented below

Summary of SWPPI-related questions and answers from the MDEQ and RPO
At the workshop, a number of questions were asked by the audience on the preparation of the SWPPIs. Those questions and the answers can be viewed by clicking on the following. (Adobe PDF files)

MDEQ SWPPI Template and Checklist
Following the aforementioned SWPPI workshop, the MDEQ issued guidance material on the required SWPPIs. The template MDEQ developed and the review checklist can be viewed by clicking on the following. (Adobe PDF files)

Goal-Specific Long Term Assessment of Progress in Subwatershed
A key element of the SWPPI process is the process by which the assessment of progress will be made in implementing the actions needed to achieve the long term goals specified in the subwatershed management plans. To assist communities and agencies in developing their SWPPI submissions, the Rouge Project, working with one of the subwatersheds developed a draft "Table 1" titled Goal-Specific Long Term Assessment of Progress in Subwatershed. This is a recommended example table that was reviewed by the MDEQ for use by the individual communities in developing their individual SWPPIs. The table is based on the Subwatershed Management Plan's chapter on monitoring. This table would be modified to fit individual needs. (Microsoft Word files)

Community and agency specific activities committed to under Subwatershed Management Plans -- as submitted in Common Appendix B
Within the watershed management plans and the SWPPIs, communities and agencies must identify specific activities that will be undertaken to further the restoration of the Rouge River in order to achieve the long term goals specified in the subwatershed management plans. To assist communities and agencies in developing their SWPPI submissions, the Rouge Project, working with one of the subwatersheds developed draft tables that presents possible community and agency specific activities committed to under subwatershed management plans. The tables are grouped under a specific SWAG. By clicking on the listing below, the particular SWAG will appear. The tables for individual communities within that SWAG can then be clicked on for viewing. These are example tables that were reviewed by the MDEQ for use by the individual communities in developing their individual SWPPIs. (Microsoft Excel files)

Examples of completed draft SWPPIs (Microsoft Word files)

General Comments on Draft SWPPIs
General comments were prepared by MDEQ based upon their reviews of some draft SWPPIs. The comments were prepared to assist the communities in the preparation of their final SWPPIs.

Current Status of the SWPPIs in the Rouge Watershed
The communities and agencies are proceeding to implement that actions delineated in their individual SWPPIs. Click here for the most current status.


Common Appendix for Rouge Subwatershed Management Plans Submitted in Fulfillment of the MDEQ Watershed Based General Storm Water Permit

To assist the seven Subwatershed Advisory Groups (see Overview Description of Storm Water Management for the Rouge River for a complete discussion about these Groups) in the preparation of the watershed management plans required by the watershed based General Storm Water Permit, the Rouge Project prepared a Common Appendix of information for use by the communities and agencies. This technical appendix includes a number of items as follows:

  • Planning and Cost Estimating Criteria for Best Management Practices;
  • community action scores for water quality improvement;
  • community action cost estimates; a summary of the 1999 public involvement survey;
  • the Rouge River Report Card;
  • comments on year 2000 draft 303(d) list;
  • a list of available maps; river flow data summaries;
  • dissolved oxygen and temperature data summaries;
  • E. Coli data summaries;
  • biological and ecological features, and
  • ecological impairments; and a glossary and list of acronyms.


Last Updated: 8/28/02

Please address all comments and suggestions about the contents of this Web page to rougeweb@co.wayne.mi.us.

The Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project is funded, in part, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants #XP995743-01, -02, -03, -04, -05, -06, -08 and C-264000-01.