The League has become aware that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has sent notification to municipalities regarding reassignment from Tier B to Tier A designation under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit program. The NJDEP is moving to reassign all 101 municipalities currently designated Tier B to the Tier A designation. Detailed justification for the reassignment is provided by the NJDEP within the notification sent to individual municipalities, but the general reasoning provided is the need for additional protections from pollutants discharged into impaired waterways.
The decision by the NJDEP to designate all municipalities Tier A should bring added interest to the recently proposed draft Tier A MS4 NJPDES Master General Permit. Some of the more significant proposed changes to the MS4 Permit include:
- Requiring all (including new) Tier As to develop a Watershed Improvement Plan (WIP) in stages over the 5-year permit term to address water quality impairments, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), and protect high-quality waters;
- Requiring mapping of all MS4 stormwater infrastructure;
- Removing authorizations for leaf composting operations at municipal maintenance yards under Tier A, and requiring authorizations under the new Wood Waste Recycling & Leaf Compost General Permit to be issued concurrently with the Tier A renewal;
- Increasing street sweeping from monthly on some municipal roads to all municipal roads 1-3 times per year, depending on presence of storm drain inlets;
- Requiring the review of de-icing additive ingredients;
- Requiring municipalities to finish storm drain inlet retrofits by end of the 5-year permit cycle;
- Adding a minimum inspection frequency for public and private Best Management Practices (BMPs) to ensure proper maintenance;
- Adding a requirement for municipalities to require commercial/industrial facilities to cover salt piles year-round when not in use (such as mall parking lots);
- Requiring enhanced Best Management Practices at Municipal Maintenance Yards, requiring covering of additional types of materials stored in the yards and including links to the Wood Waste Recycling & Leaf Compost General Permit;
- Requiring removal of piles of excess residual salt on roads/parking lots deposited during spreading operations;
- Requiring measurable time frames for stream scouring and illicit connection program remediation;
- Requiring municipalities to establish dedicated stormwater webpages;
- Increasing frequency of some employee stormwater training to reflect annual Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SPPP) updates;
- Adding the road erosion sediment control requirement back into the permit; and
- Enhancing the Stormwater Management Design Review (SWMDR) training requirement to require a short update course to cover rule amendments.
Compliance with the MS4 Permit has always been a costly endeavor for municipal governments, and the addition of the new elements presented in the draft permit will mean additional costs. For Tier B municipalities now reassigned as Tier A, the cost of compliance will be even higher as this will be the first time being required to meet the existing Tier A permit requirements in addition to the potential new requirements.
The public comment period for the draft ends September 20, 2022. For those interested, written comments may be submitted to the NJDEP via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the NJDEP will be hosting a virtual public hearing to solicit public comment on September 20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and re-open from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to accommodate additional individuals if the attendance limitation for the 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. session is exceeded. A link to register or attend this hearing has not been provided by the NJDEP.
In addition, the NJDEP will be hosting an outreach session for Tier B municipalities being reassigned to Tier A, on August 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. This outreach session will include a presentation on the Department’s evaluation of Tier B municipalities to determine their eligibility for the Tier A permit as well as the reassignment process and the assistance that the Department will be providing during the transition to Tier A. There will also be a presentation on the draft Tier A permit which will include the identification of the changes being proposed in the new Tier A permit. Those wishing to attend the must RSVP to email@example.com with you name, email, and municipal affiliation and a follow up email will be sent with a link to join the session.
The League will be putting together a working group to review and provide comment on the draft MS4 Permit. To join, please contact League Associate General Counsel Frank Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-695-3481, x.137. For those who plan to submit their own comments to the NJDEP, we ask that you also provide a copy to the League.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, FMarshall@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x 137.