40 CFR § 122.34 - Permit requirements for regulated small MS4 permits.
(a) General requirements. For any permit issued to a regulated small MS4, the NPDES permitting authority must include permit terms and conditions to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the MS4 to the maximum extent practicable (MEP), to protect water quality, and to satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act. Terms and conditions that satisfy the requirements of this section must be expressed in clear, specific, and measurable terms. Such terms and conditions may include narrative, numeric, or other types of requirements (e.g., implementation of specific tasks or best management practices ( BMPs), BMP design requirements, performance requirements, adaptive management requirements, schedules for implementation and maintenance, and frequency of actions).
(1) For permits providing coverage to any small MS4s for the first time, the NPDES permitting authority may specify a time period of up to 5 years from the date of permit issuance for the permittee to fully comply with the conditions of the permit and to implement necessary BMPs.
(2) For each successive permit, the NPDES permitting authority must include terms and conditions that meet the requirements of this section based on its evaluation of the current permit requirements, record of permittee compliance and program implementation progress, current water quality conditions, and other relevant information.
(b) Minimum control measures. The permit must include requirements that ensure the permittee implements, or continues to implement, the minimum control measures in paragraphs (b)(1) through (6) of this section during the permit term. The permit must also require a written storm water management program document or documents that, at a minimum, describes in detail how the permittee intends to comply with the permit's requirements for each minimum control measure.
(1) Public education and outreach on storm water impacts.
(i) The permit must identify the minimum elements and require implementation of a public education program to distribute educational materials to the community or conduct equivalent outreach activities about the impacts of storm water discharges on water bodies and the steps that the public can take to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff.
(ii) Guidance for NPDES permitting authorities and regulated small MS4s: The permittee may use storm water educational materials provided by the State, Tribe, EPA, environmental, public interest or trade organizations, or other MS4s. The public education program should inform individuals and households about the steps they can take to reduce storm water pollution, such as ensuring proper septic system maintenance, ensuring the proper use and disposal of landscape and garden chemicals including fertilizers and pesticides, protecting and restoring riparian vegetation, and properly disposing of used motor oil or household hazardous wastes. EPA recommends that the program inform individuals and groups how to become involved in local stream and beach restoration activities as well as activities that are coordinated by youth service and conservation corps or other citizen groups. EPA recommends that the permit require the permittee to tailor the public education program, using a mix of locally appropriate strategies, to target specific audiences and communities. Examples of strategies include distributing brochures or fact sheets, sponsoring speaking engagements before community groups, providing public service announcements, implementing educational programs targeted at school age children, and conducting community-based projects such as storm drain stenciling, and watershed and beach cleanups. In addition, EPA recommends that the permit require that some of the materials or outreach programs be directed toward targeted groups of commercial, industrial, and institutional entities likely to have significant storm water impacts. For example, providing information to restaurants on the impact of grease clogging storm drains and to garages on the impact of oil discharges. The permit should encourage the permittee to tailor the outreach program to address the viewpoints and concerns of all communities, particularly minority and disadvantaged communities, as well as any special concerns relating to children.
(2) Public involvement/participation.
(ii) Guidance for NPDES permitting authorities and regulated small MS4s: EPA recommends that the permit include provisions addressing the need for the public to be included in developing, implementing, and reviewing the storm water management program and that the public participation process should make efforts to reach out and engage all economic and ethnic groups. Opportunities for members of the public to participate in program development and implementation include serving as citizen representatives on a local storm water management panel, attending public hearings, working as citizen volunteers to educate other individuals about the program, assisting in program coordination with other pre-existing programs, or participating in volunteer monitoring efforts. (Citizens should obtain approval where necessary for lawful access to monitoring sites.)
(3) Illicit discharge detection and elimination.
(i) The permit must identify the minimum elements and require the development, implementation, and enforcement of a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges (as defined at § 122.26(b)(2)) into the small MS4. At a minimum, the permit must require the permittee to:
(A) Develop, if not already completed, a storm sewer system map, showing the location of all outfalls and the names and location of all waters of the United States that receive discharges from those outfalls;
(B) To the extent allowable under State, Tribal or local law, effectively prohibit, through ordinance, or other regulatory mechanism, non-storm water discharges into the storm sewer system and implement appropriate enforcement procedures and actions;
(C) Develop and implement a plan to detect and address non-storm water discharges, including illegal dumping, to the system; and
(D) Inform public employees, businesses, and the general public of hazards associated with illegal discharges and improper disposal of waste.
(ii) The permit must also require the permittee to address the following categories of non-storm water discharges or flows (i.e., illicit discharges) only if the permittee identifies them as a significant contributor of pollutants to the small MS4: Water line flushing, landscape irrigation, diverted stream flows, rising ground waters, uncontaminated ground water infiltration (as defined at 40 CFR 35.2005(b)(20)), uncontaminated pumped ground water, discharges from potable water sources, foundation drains, air conditioning condensation, irrigation water, springs, water from crawl space pumps, footing drains, lawn watering, individual residential car washing, flows from riparian habitats and wetlands, dechlorinated swimming pool discharges, and street wash water (discharges or flows from firefighting activities are excluded from the effective prohibition against non-storm water and need only be addressed where they are identified as significant sources of pollutants to waters of the United States).
(iii) Guidance for NPDES permitting authorities and regulated small MS4s: EPA recommends that the permit require the plan to detect and address illicit discharges include the following four components: Procedures for locating priority areas likely to have illicit discharges; procedures for tracing the source of an illicit discharge; procedures for removing the source of the discharge; and procedures for program evaluation and assessment. EPA recommends that the permit require the permittee to visually screen outfalls during dry weather and conduct field tests of selected pollutants as part of the procedures for locating priority areas. Illicit discharge education actions may include storm drain stenciling, a program to promote, publicize, and facilitate public reporting of illicit connections or discharges, and distribution of outreach materials.
(4) Construction site storm water runoff control.
(i) The permit must identify the minimum elements and require the development, implementation, and enforcement of a program to reduce pollutants in any storm water runoff to the small MS4 from construction activities that result in a land disturbance of greater than or equal to one acre. Reduction of storm water discharges from construction activity disturbing less than one acre must be included in the program if that construction activity is part of a larger common plan of development or sale that would disturb one acre or more. If the Director waives requirements for storm water discharges associated with small construction activity in accordance with § 122.26(b)(15)(i), the permittee is not required to develop, implement, and/or enforce a program to reduce pollutant discharges from such sites. At a minimum, the permit must require the permittee to develop and implement:
(C) Requirements for construction site operators to control waste such as discarded building materials, concrete truck washout, chemicals, litter, and sanitary waste at the construction site that may cause adverse impacts to water quality;
(E) Procedures for receipt and consideration of information submitted by the public, and
(F) Procedures for site inspection and enforcement of control measures.
(ii) Guidance for NPDES permitting authorities and regulated small MS4s: Examples of sanctions to ensure compliance include non-monetary penalties, fines, bonding requirements and/or permit denials for non-compliance. EPA recommends that the procedures for site plan review include the review of individual pre-construction site plans to ensure consistency with local sediment and erosion control requirements. Procedures for site inspections and enforcement of control measures could include steps to identify priority sites for inspection and enforcement based on the nature of the construction activity, topography, and the characteristics of soils and receiving water quality. EPA also recommends that the permit require the permittee to provide appropriate educational and training measures for construction site operators, and require storm water pollution prevention plans for construction sites within the MS4's jurisdiction that discharge into the system. See § 122.44(s) (NPDES permitting authorities' option to incorporate qualifying State, Tribal and local erosion and sediment control programs into NPDES permits for storm water discharges from construction sites). Also see § 122.35(b) (The NPDES permitting authority may recognize that another government entity, including the NPDES permitting authority, may be responsible for implementing one or more of the minimum measures on the permittee's behalf).
(5) Post-construction storm water management in new development and redevelopment.
(i) The permit must identify the minimum elements and require the development, implementation, and enforcement of a program to address storm water runoff from new development and redevelopment projects that disturb greater than or equal to one acre, including projects less than one acre that are part of a larger common plan of development or sale, that discharge into the small MS4. The permit must ensure that controls are in place that would prevent or minimize water quality impacts. At a minimum, the permit must require the permittee to:
(ii) Guidance for NPDES permitting authorities and regulated small MS4s: If water quality impacts are considered from the beginning stages of a project, new development and potentially redevelopment provide more opportunities for water quality protection. EPA recommends that the permit ensure that BMPs included in the program: Be appropriate for the local community; minimize water quality impacts; and attempt to maintain pre-development runoff conditions. EPA encourages the permittee to participate in locally-based watershed planning efforts which attempt to involve a diverse group of stakeholders including interested citizens. When developing a program that is consistent with this measure's intent, EPA recommends that the permit require the permittee to adopt a planning process that identifies the municipality's program goals (e.g., minimize water quality impacts resulting from post-construction runoff from new development and redevelopment), implementation strategies (e.g., adopt a combination of structural and/or non-structural BMPs), operation and maintenance policies and procedures, and enforcement procedures. In developing the program, the permit should also require the permittee to assess existing ordinances, policies, programs and studies that address storm water runoff quality. In addition to assessing these existing documents and programs, the permit should require the permittee to provide opportunities to the public to participate in the development of the program. Non-structural BMPs are preventative actions that involve management and source controls such as: Policies and ordinances that provide requirements and standards to direct growth to identified areas, protect sensitive areas such as wetlands and riparian areas, maintain and/or increase open space (including a dedicated funding source for open space acquisition), provide buffers along sensitive water bodies, minimize impervious surfaces, and minimize disturbance of soils and vegetation; policies or ordinances that encourage infill development in higher density urban areas, and areas with existing infrastructure; education programs for developers and the public about project designs that minimize water quality impacts; and measures such as minimization of percent impervious area after development and minimization of directly connected impervious areas. Structural BMPs include: Storage practices such as wet ponds and extended-detention outlet structures; filtration practices such as grassed swales, sand filters and filter strips; and infiltration practices such as infiltration basins and infiltration trenches. EPA recommends that the permit ensure the appropriate implementation of the structural BMPs by considering some or all of the following: Pre-construction review of BMP designs; inspections during construction to verify BMPs are built as designed; post-construction inspection and maintenance of BMPs; and penalty provisions for the noncompliance with design, construction or operation and maintenance. Storm water technologies are constantly being improved, and EPA recommends that the permit requirements be responsive to these changes, developments or improvements in control technologies.
(6) Pollution prevention/good housekeeping for municipal operations.
(i) The permit must identify the minimum elements and require the development and implementation of an operation and maintenance program that includes a training component and has the ultimate goal of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff from municipal operations. Using training materials that are available from EPA, the State, Tribe, or other organizations, the program must include employee training to prevent and reduce storm water pollution from activities such as park and open space maintenance, fleet and building maintenance, new construction and land disturbances, and storm water system maintenance.
(ii) Guidance for NPDES permitting authorities and regulated small MS4s: EPA recommends that the permit address the following: Maintenance activities, maintenance schedules, and long-term inspection procedures for structural and non-structural storm water controls to reduce floatables and other pollutants discharged from the separate storm sewers; controls for reducing or eliminating the discharge of pollutants from streets, roads, highways, municipal parking lots, maintenance and storage yards, fleet or maintenance shops with outdoor storage areas, salt/sand storage locations and snow disposal areas operated by the permittee, and waste transfer stations; procedures for properly disposing of waste removed from the separate storm sewers and areas listed above (such as dredge spoil, accumulated sediments, floatables, and other debris); and ways to ensure that new flood management projects assess the impacts on water quality and examine existing projects for incorporating additional water quality protection devices or practices. Operation and maintenance should be an integral component of all storm water management programs. This measure is intended to improve the efficiency of these programs and require new programs where necessary. Properly developed and implemented operation and maintenance programs reduce the risk of water quality problems.
(1) More stringent terms and conditions, including permit requirements that modify, or are in addition to, the minimum control measures based on an approved total maximum daily load (TMDL) or equivalent analysis, or where the Director determines such terms and conditions are needed to protect water quality.
(d) Evaluation and assessment requirements -
(1) Evaluation. The permit must require the permittee to evaluate compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit, including the effectiveness of the components of its storm water management program, and the status of achieving the measurable requirements in the permit.
The NPDES permitting authority may determine monitoring requirements for the permittee in accordance with State/Tribal monitoring plans appropriate to the watershed. Participation in a group monitoring program is encouraged.
(2) Recordkeeping. The permit must require that the permittee keep records required by the NPDES permit for at least 3 years and submit such records to the NPDES permitting authority when specifically asked to do so. The permit must require the permittee to make records, including a written description of the storm water management program, available to the public at reasonable times during regular business hours (see § 122.7 for confidentiality provision). (The permittee may assess a reasonable charge for copying. The permit may allow the permittee to require a member of the public to provide advance notice.)
(3) Reporting. Unless the permittee is relying on another entity to satisfy its NPDES permit obligations under § 122.35(a), the permittee must submit annual reports to the NPDES permitting authority for its first permit term. For subsequent permit terms, the permittee must submit reports in year two and four unless the NPDES permitting authority requires more frequent reports. As of December 21, 2025 or an EPA-approved alternative date (see 40 CFR 127.24(e) or (f)), all reports submitted in compliance with this section must be submitted electronically by the owner, operator, or the duly authorized representative of the small MS4 to the NPDES permitting authority or initial recipient, as defined in 40 CFR 127.2(b), in compliance with this section and 40 CFR part 3 (including, in all cases, subpart D to part 3), § 122.22, and 40 CFR part 127. 40 CFR part 127 is not intended to undo existing requirements for electronic reporting. Prior to this date, and independent of 40 CFR part 127, the owner, operator, or the duly authorized representative of the small MS4 may be required to report electronically if specified by a particular permit or if required to do so by state law. The report must include:
(i) The status of compliance with permit terms and conditions;
(ii) Results of information collected and analyzed, including monitoring data, if any, during the reporting period;
(iv) Any changes made during the reporting period to the permittee's storm water management program; and
(e) Qualifying local program. If an existing qualifying local program requires the permittee to implement one or more of the minimum control measures of paragraph (b) of this section, the NPDES permitting authority may include conditions in the NPDES permit that direct the permittee to follow that qualifying program's requirements rather than the requirements of paragraph (b). A qualifying local program is a local, State or Tribal municipal storm water management program that imposes, at a minimum, the relevant requirements of paragraph (b).