What the New Massachusetts and Connecticut MS4 General Permits Mean for Communities

After many years of delay the EPA and MassDEP published the new MS4 General Permit for Massachusetts on April 13, 2016. This follows the publication of the new Connecticut MS4 General Permit on January 20, 2016. Both permits become effective on July 1, 2017.

The final Massachusetts permit, appendices, and response to comment documents are available on EPA’s website along with useful information and resources for stormwater management. There is a series of public meetings planned, and dates and locations can be found at the link above.

Click here for the Connecticut permit, a fact sheet, and other information on the process of the permit development . 

Who is affected

Regulated MS4s include traditional cities and towns. This permit will also apply to state and federal properties (for example, colleges, prisons, and hospitals as identified by EPA in MA). We anticipate that EPA or the delegated state may identify additional “non-traditional” MS4s who will be subject to the permit. Additionally, transportation agencies will have a separate MS4 general permit. 

Key Dates 

  • Registration form (Notice of Intent) must be submitted to the CT DEEP at least 90 days prior to the effective date – April 2, 2017
  • 5-year Stormwater Management Plan must be made available to the public and submitted to CT DEEP 90 days before the effective date – April 2, 2017
  • New MS4 permit effective date – July 1, 2017
  • Registration form (Notice of Intent) due to EPA/MassDEP 90 days from effective date – September 29, 2017
  • 5-year Stormwater Management Plan must be posted publically within one year of effective date of the permit – July 1, 2018

What this means for communities

Our experience with the specific provisions of the draft permit, and our work with several clients that are under early versions of these requirements, indicate that the major effort for communities will be related to drainage system mapping and drainage system investigation for cross contamination from sanitary sewers. It is clear given the age of sanitary sewers in many New England communities that the capital implications of the illicit discharge detection and elimination program may be substantial.

The permit also includes requirements that specifically address identified water quality problems, including stormwater discharges to waterbodies with approved Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and requirements that address discharges to impaired waters without an approved TMDL where stormwater discharges are contributing to the impairment. Communities discharging stormwater to impaired waters will require specific watershed management plans (or specific actions) to address compliance. The impaired waters plans will likely require structural improvements including stormwater management system installation for existing municipal or other targeted properties. 

In order to stay ahead of requirements, municipalities and other institutions subject to the new permit should plan to conduct a stormwater program evaluation and gap analysis in advance of the due dates listed in the permits. For Connecticut communities, that means during the second half of 2016 or in early 2017. For Massachusetts communities, it means starting no later than July 2017. This does not need to be a massive effort. We have conducted this analysis multiple times using a standard approach that we call a “StormCheck.” We look at the compliance program requirements, current drainage system asset inventory and capital and operations programs already in place in order to maximize strengths, leverage best practices, and identify solutions for program weaknesses. The simple and easy to understand summary report from this effort helps make important decisions about staffing, funding and how best to meet the increasing compliance obligations in a strategic way. 

We will continue to study the permit and look for creative solutions and cost-effective ways to meet these new obligations and keep our waters clear!


Zach Henderson Practice Leader Stormwater

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