Running head: STORM WATER RESEARCH PAPER 1
STORM WATER RESEARCH PAPER 3
Storm water Research Paper
Storm water is the type of water that originates in the events of rainfall, downpour and in the case of ice or snow melting. Storm water has many various ways of manifesting such as surface runoff where the water ends up in the rivers, lakes oceans and other water bodies. The water can evaporate and also can be held on the surface, or infiltrate into the soil. Storm water is absorbed into the soil mostly in natural landscapes where the plants have a role in the fast absorption of the water into the soil.
In environments that have been built up that is the built environment storm water can be hazardous as it poses challenges in its disposal. Hence, two major risks are posed by storm water in developed places. First, the storm water can accumulate and stagnate at one place leading to flooding and secondly there are risks of pollution where the storm water harbors chemicals and pollutants from wherever the water is flowing from that is the source. Some of the pollutants and agents present in the storm water as it enters the developed areas might have been picked along the way as the water flows.
Storm water has a positive impact of contributing to the stock and bulk of water that is demanded ion the current century due to high demand. Therefore storm water becomes a source of useful water whereby it is harnessed and stored for use by people and communities. In cases where the water is trapped and harnessed properly, it helps to solve issues of water shortages especially in urban centers where the demand for clean water is high, and the supply is minimal. Some of the commonly used techniques for storm water harvesting include water purification and point source water management.
Pollution caused by or contributed to by storm water mostly occur in the urban areas, or built up an environment where the water cannot seep or infiltrate into the ground due to concrete pavements, compacted soil, buildings, and roads. Potential flooding becomes a threat in the case where the storm water is in huge amounts such that the collection systems cannot handle the amount and the water erodes the rivers and streams as it drains into these water bodies. Further, storm water flushes out as it flows from its sources with so much force such that little or no water infiltrates the ground as it flows.
In the United States, the Clean Water Act has given the mandate to the Environmental Protection Agency which regulates storm water with the main aim of ensuring safe water for fishing and swimming conditions within the United States. Since 1972 the act has overseen the regulation of industrial waste water and sewerage water. The federal government after much observation and experience realized that the definition of the word point source needed to be broadened to include industrial storm water drainages that need regulation as they are the biggest contributor to storm water pollution. Facilities that are responsible for discharging industrial storm water have the requirement of obtaining NPDE permits.
The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed and authorized various states to carry out the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES program traces its origin from the Federal Clean Water Act. It is founded on the permit program system where the permits are issued as simple tools of regulating waste water discharges that are made into the large water bodies such as streams, rivers, and lakes. Permits are issued and governed by the law whereby they specify effluent limits on the permit holders. The permits also allow the institutions emitting effluents to operate treatment systems that can be used to treat the water before being released into the drainage bodies.
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems programs are charged with the regulation of storm water, municipal effluent and treated industrial effluent. The permits stipulate the reporting requirements and procedures, monitoring of the effluent discharge and set limits to the holders. The main aim of the permit is to regulate all types of water flowing from a point source to a state water body The water flowing from a point source, for instance, the storm water drainage are responsible for environmental and water pollution and as part of the pollution control, issuing of the permits regulates the discharge of effluents into rivers, lakes and oceans under the state territory.
Some of the common point sources include water treatment plants that are publicly owned, industrial facilities and urban runoffs which are a passage way for storm water. Natural environments such as forests do not fall under this category as they are categorized as catchment areas that serve to trap the storm water and harness it. Water infiltrates easily in the green vegetation as compared to little or no infiltration in the built environment. The NPDES programs issue different types of permits in regards to the type and kind of point source of the discharged water.
As part of the point sources of water that are regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems programs, agricultural runoff is excluded from the non-point sources of pollution. Agricultural runoff is excluded from the program because as it does not fit in the definition as stated by the Clean Water Act. Storm water coming into contact with agricultural projects are prone to ferrying chemicals from the runoff. Therefore the Clean Water Act in the year 1987, created amendments to the EPA for nonpoint water management that passes on research and demonstration projects.
The types of NPDES permits include general permits and individual permits. Individual permits are served to independent and unique facilities to regulate the storm water drainages systems. Genera NPDES permits are issued to facilities that are similar in operation and the kind of waste water effluents to be regulated. Facilities that are seeking certain regulatory criteria as a prerequisite requirement for various processes can opt for the general permit instead of the individual permit.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States came up with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems program that was implemented by the federal governments in the various states. The implementation was to be carried out in two distinct phases. Phase one was initiated in the year 1990 with the main objective of addressing issues of pollution that arise from storm water drainage. The main objective of phase one was to overlook two major sources of storm water which are municipal storm water systems (MS4). The MS4s were located mainly in the places that had populations of 100,000 people.
Phase one of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems programs also addressed the industrial activities responsible of storm water effluents that are categories into eleven categories. Construction activities that interfere with over 5 acres of land are regarded as well as industrial activity.
Phase two of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems programs was started in 1999 which was an improvement of phase one mostly addressing issues that were overlooked and left out in the phase of the project. The permits were continually issued to address MS4s and more other sources not addressed in the phase of the programs. Additionally, the permits were also served to small-scale construction activities that did not feature in phase one of the program. The small construction projects were considered to be those that affect activities between 1 to 5 acres of land.
Other than the regulation and issuing of the permits the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems program is charged with the obligation of carrying put public education and campaign as education and sensitization as one the key components if storm water management and control. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems programs have received a lot of support from government agencies that have come up with programs geared towards creating public awareness and enlightenment that is coherent with the permits.
An example of the public education programs for regulation of the storm water is the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC). Other educational campaigns are such as ’15 to the river campaign’. The campaign was based on the fact that it approximately takes 15 minutes of runoff that is contaminated to reach the Grand River from the Grand Rapids of Michigan. Green infrastructure has come up as a solution to the management of storm water during the campaign programs.
For instance, in the state of Florida, Environmental Pollution Act gave permission to the Environmental Protection Department of the state to carry out functions of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems program. The water that is regulated from the point sources include municipal point sources, industrial water sources and storm water drainage. The NPDES has the mandate of regulating the storm water. In addition to the role, the NPDES program as well issues the permits, renews the permits after expiry, following up with compliance and establishing enforcement activities as well as fining of those that do not comply with the permits.
Frank, R., & Joanne, E., (2013) Storm water Discharge management: a practical guide to compliance. Rowman and Littlefield.
NPDES, (2015). National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems programs. Retrieved from www.pa.gov/npdes/ on January 4, 2017.
Steve, B. (1999). United states – Federal water pollution control amendments of 1972 review. (Clean water act). Pub.L 92-500.