BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, October 13, 2009 (ENS) – Concern about the rate of development of Urban Stormwater Programs by municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit holders in Louisiana has prompted the formation of the Louisiana Urban Stormwater Coalition by representatives of some of the permit holders.
Working with leadership from the EPA Region 4 Enforcement Division and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, representatives of active Small MS4 programs in Louisiana have met and agreed to form this self-help coalition. This is the first statewide organization of its kind in the nation, according to the U.S. EPA. While other associations of regulated cities exist in Minnesota, California and Colorado, none is primarily focused on smaller MS4 cities and towns.
In Louisiana, local coordination and leadership is provided by Dr. Rod Hendrick, water quality specialist and professor with the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.
MS4s must develop and implement stormwater management plans to reduce pollutant loadings to the maximum extent practicable and must investigate and eliminate illegal connections to their storm sewer system, Hendrick said.
MS4s are divided into two general categories based on size. Louisiana has four large MS4s with populations of more than 100,000 and 110 small MS4s, Hendrick said. The small MS4s include metropolitan areas with populations of 100,000 to 10,000 and smaller areas or subdivisions with population densities of 1,000 people per square mile.
“The coalition will promote collaboration among stormwater managers, educators, engineers, landscape architects, planners and regulators to develop solutions that maximize return on their investment of time, effort and funds,” Hendrick said.
It also will give small towns access to effective solutions developed by larger municipalities, he said.
“This network will foster rapid development, distribution and acceptance of custom solutions applicable to Louisiana,” Hendrick said.
Membership in the Coalition is open to all of the MS4s in the state, large and small. Associate memberships are available to consultants, suppliers and others interested in or involved in Stormwater management or protection.
Coalition goals are to assist members in the achievement of the Urban Stormwater Programs goals and to facilitate compliance with the permit requirements through sharing information, ideas, and techniques among the members.
Polluted stormwater runoff is often transported to MS4s and ultimately discharged into local rivers and streams without treatment. Having a locally organized educational organization, whose programs are targeted to the needs of the members, will allow attention to be focused on those issues of greatest local concern.
With its hot humid climate, long growing seasons, low topographic relief, and high annual rainfall with frequent torrential rains, Louisiana has unique conditions not found in other areas of the country, said Hendrick.
“Hurricanes, storm surges, high rates of coastal subsidence, and wetland loss contribute to unique flooding scenarios. Having the ability to focus the skills, knowledge, and experience of the stormwater managers and engineers statewide on these common problems is expected to promote the development of innovative solutions to the problems more quickly and more effectively,” he said.
The coalition will promote collaboration among stormwater managers, educators, engineers, landscape architects, planners, and regulators to develop solutions that maximize return on investment of time, effort, and funds. It will also provide small towns with small staffs and budgets access to effective solutions developed by larger municipalities with common problems. This network will foster rapid development, distribution, and acceptance of custom solutions applicable to Louisiana.
Educational materials, forms, and procedures developed by members, EPA, LDEQ, LSU AgCenter, and other educational sources will be collected and made available on the LSU AgCenter Urban Stormwater webpage until the establishment of the Coalitions webpage. Educational and training materials will be available to Coalition members from the web page for downloading, personalization, and use. The webpage will facilitate information dissemination between group meetings.
The first full meeting of the Coalition was held October9 in Pineville, Louisiana with speakers on the function and role of the coalition and sessions devoted to how to deal with tracking the construction stormwater program, TMDL and MS4 requirements, post construction issues, and watershed analysis tools.
Hendrick says the Coalition Team Evaluation program will be beneficial because it will provide members an independent outside review of their program without fear of penalty.
Programs inspected and certified complete by the coalition teams as being in compliance with permit program requirements will be able to demonstrate to their citizens that they are operating in compliance with federal and state rules.
Compliance with stormwater regulations will be high on the agenda at the 9th annual Environmental Regulatory Compliance Conference scheduled for January 27 and 28, 2010 at the Alexandria Riverfront Conference Center.
The conference is hosted by the City of Alexandria, the Louisiana Municipal Association, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Department of Health and Hospitals.