Elkton grapples with higher stormwater permit standards
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.
Follow me online at Facebook. com/bradkronernews and Twitter. com/bradkroner.
Sidney Ojofeitimi, the town’s stormwater program manager since 2006, briefs the mayor and commissioners on the town’s stormwater programs.
10:00 a.m. BIG RIG SHOWTRUCK JAMBOREE