Elkton grap­ples with higher stormwa­ter per­mit stan­dards

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRAD KRONER bkro­ner@ches­pub.com

ELKTON — The town’s cur­rent mu­nic­i­pal sep­a­rate storm sewer sys­tem (MS4) stormwa­ter man­age­ment per­mit is in com­pli­ance, but more am­bi­tious stan­dards must be met as a part of the new per­mit.

The ori­gins of the stormwa­ter per­mit date to the pas­sage of The Clean Water Act in 1972, which was amended later in 1987 to in­clude the Na­tional Pol­lu­tant Dis­charge Elim­i­na­tion Sys­tem (NPDES) per­mit. This pro­gram con­trols pol­lu­tion by reg­u­lat­ing point sources for water con­tam­i­na­tion.

In 1991, those reg­u­la­tions were ex­panded to in­clude mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, who could re­ceive MS4 per­mits. Es­sen­tially, an MS4 per­mit is just a mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s way of col­lect­ing and con­vey­ing stormwa­ter to limit pol­lu­tion.

Elkton has been in com­pli­ance since 2003. Stan­dards for com­pli­ance in­clude pub­lic out­reach and ed­u­ca­tion, dis­charge de­tec­tion and elim­i­na­tion, stormwa­ter man­age­ment at con­struc­tions sites, and pol­lu­tion preven­tion.

In May 2016, it was is­sued an up­dated per­mit. As a part of this per­mit, the town faces even higher stan­dards for pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion.

The new per­mit calls for in­creased re­port­ing data, 20 per­cent more screen­ing of ma­jor out­falls and a 20 per­cent re­duc­tion of im­per­vi­ous sur­faces, with that last re­quire­ment be­ing the tough­est to reach.

Sid­ney Ojofeitimi, the town’s stormwa­ter pro­gram man­ager since 2006, said it’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge to re­duce the town’s im­per­vi­ous sur­faces — con­crete and ce­ment — by 20 per­cent.

Elkton is around 8 square miles in size.

“It comes out to a cou­ple thou­sand more acres that we have to turn green,” Ojofeitimi said, adding that “the sky’s the limit” for op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Elkton Mayor Rob Alt was taken aback by the 20 per­cent im­per­vi­ous sur­face re­duc­tion and asked how it could be done.

In fact, it could be done with­out re­mov­ing any con­crete or ce­ment. In­stead, what of­fi­cials can do is sim­ply cre­ate more rain gar­dens, plant more trees, cre­ate stormwa­ter ponds and cre­ate in­fil­tra­tion sys­tems to guide the stormwa­ter runoff into the ground.

“What we’re look­ing to do is treat ar­eas that have no stormwa­ter man­age­ment plan,” Town Plan­ner Jeanne Min­ner ex­plained.

Of­fi­cials pointed to older neigh­bor­hoods like Elkton Heights and por­tions of Howard Street that could be retro­fit­ted or up­graded to meet the requirements.

Min­ner said the town would likely con­duct a wa­ter­shed eval­u­a­tion to de­ter­mine how funds could be spent more strate­gi­cally and effi- ciently to meet the requirements.

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Sid­ney Ojofeitimi, the town’s stormwa­ter pro­gram man­ager since 2006, briefs the mayor and com­mis­sion­ers on the town’s stormwa­ter pro­grams.


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