Mass River Alliance Claims Big Win

The Massachusetts River Alliance spearheaded a successful nine-member, joint lawsuit against an EPA for delaying a long overdue permit addressing stormwater runoff. 


Stormwater runoff remains a critical threat to water quality in our state, but the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit (MS4 permit) takes key steps in the fight to tackle this issue. The MS4 permit stipulates six minimum control measures for municipalities: Public Education and Outreach; Public Participation; Illicit Discharge and Detection and Elimination; Management of Construction Site Runoff; Management of Post Construction Site Runoff; Good Housekeeping in Municipal Operations. 


The common thread in all six stipulations is an emphasis on proactive, rather than reactive, action. The first measure, public education, requires municipalities to provide educational material about stormwater to residents, industries, commercial entities, and construction entities. This measure not only brings the issue of stormwater runoff to the fore of community concerns but also ensures all affected parties know what is at stake when discussing stormwater runoff, hopefully allowing for more informed decisions.


Building on the first stipulation, the requirement of public participation puts the education into action. Moving forward, all municipalities will be required to “provide an opportunity for the public to participate in the development/implementation of their Stormwater Management Program (SWMP)” yearly. 


The good housekeeping measure requires at least yearly street sweeping as well as optimizing storm drain cleaning. These seemingly basic steps will, in conjunction with the three other stipulations, will make a significant impact in improving the health of our Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, ponds, and more. A huge thank you to the Mass Rivers Alliance and their partners for taking action to ensure the permit went through!