NPDES/MS4

Stormwater Non Point Discharge System (NPDES) in Richland County

In addition to requirements Richland County landowners follow for earthmoving activities through the Richland County Stormwater and Erosion Control Program, communities that have 1000 or more people per square mile must follow the Stormwater Non Point Discharge System (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) (NPDES) General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) to further effectively manage water pollution. The Richland County Commissioners are mandated by Ohio EPA to create and manage this added accountability for stormwater runoff. The NPDES (MS4) communities in Richland County are: City of Mansfield, City of Ontario, Village of Lexington, Madison Township, Mifflin Township, Springfield Township and Washington Township.

Stormwater runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is the use of best management practices (BMPs). In addition, most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage under an NPDES/MS4 permit. 

Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. Authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for MS4 controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES/MS4 permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. In most cases, the NPDES/MS4 permit program is administered Ohio EPA. Since its introduction in 1972, the NPDES permit program is responsible for significant improvements to our Nation’s water quality. These regulations require designated communities to develop and implement a storm water management plan. This is accomplished by implementing six minimum control measures.

  1. Public Education — BMPs for MS4s to inform individuals and households about ways to reduce stormwater pollution.
  2. Public Involvement — BMPs for MS4s to involve the public in the development, implementation, and review of an MS4’s stormwater management program.
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection & Elimination — BMPs for identifying and eliminating illicit discharges and spills to storm drain systems. Learn more about how to test for an IDDE.
  4. Construction — BMPs for MS4s and construction site operators to address stormwater runoff from active construction sites.
  5. Post-construction — BMPs for MS4s, developers, and property owners to address stormwater runoff after construction activities have completed. 
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping — BMPs for MS4s to address stormwater runoff from their own facilities and activities. 

If there is a land disturbance within the NPDES/MS4 area it may require engineered plans. Please contact us as part of your planning process to find out. Our office can provide detailed steps of how a land use change can be made while still complying and how to work with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) directly.

Richland Soil and Water Conservation District assists communities with a variety of public education, outreach, involvement and participation programs to help meet the requirements of the local MS4 management plan. These programs include electronic newsletters, social media platforms, website updates and workshops.

2024 Stormwater Theme: Pollution Prevention

For 2024 we will be looking at how to “Prevent Pollution” for this year’s MS4 Theme. But first, what is MS4? In addition to requirements Richland County landowners follow for earthmoving activities through the Richland County Stormwater and Erosion Control Program, communities with 1,000 or more people per square mile must follow the Stormwater Non Point Discharge System (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) (NPDES) General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) to further effectively manage water pollution. The Richland County Commissioners are mandated by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to create and manage this added accountability for stormwater runoff. The NPDES (MS4) communities in Richland County are: City of Mansfield, City of Ontario, Village of Lexington, Madison Township, Mifflin Township, Springfield Township and Washington Township.

The EPA defines pollution prevention as “any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source before it is created.” It is important to prioritize doing this because pollution has many negative effects on human health and the environment.

The good news is, preventing pollution is something everyone can do. Throughout 2024 we will share different pollution prevention techniques to apply in your daily lives.

We all know that road salt is good, right? Road salt helps melt the snow and ice on the roads we drive on, so they are not as slippery during winter storms, but… is there a negative side to road salt? Unfortunately, there is, and the effects can be substantial.

Road salt can cause damage to your vehicles, health, and ecosystems. Have you ever noticed how vehicles primarily driven in states that use road salt rust out a lot quicker than vehicles in states that do not use road salt? Road salt contributes to cars rusting. Americans spread more than 20 million tons of salt on our roadways each winter.

So, the question is, how does all this salt affect us and the environment? First, it causes our roadways and bridges to break down. Then the salt goes into our waterways. If water pipes are in poor shape, lead may flake off and enter our drinking water potentially causing health problems.

Good water quality is important for everyone. We are especially mindful of it at Richland SWCD because it’s one of our areas of expertise. Did you know in Richland County, three watersheds above the Continental Divide flow to Lake Erie and five watersheds below the Continental Divide flow to the Ohio River and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico? We don’t want to be a bad neighbor and pass along contaminated water to our neighbors. Find out more about watersheds and the Continental Divide in Richland County on our website.

An example of poor water quality was the added nutrients in water that contributed to the harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and the oxygen dead zone in the Gulf.

We need to start utilizing more feasible alternatives that keep the roads safe while not damaging our health and environment. Placing sand on top of ice and snow provides traction for shoes and tires, but also absorbs sunlight to melt ice faster. Another alternative to salt as a deicer is to use beet juice. Beet juice allows for ice to melt at lower temperatures, and it is gentle on roads, plants, grass, cars, and concrete.

If salt must be used on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots, please apply it sparingly, so that you can help with Pollution Prevention.

Learn more about the MS4 program in Richland County by contacting the MS4 Technician.

We sell rain barrels and have them in stock. You may purchase one online or let us know and we will make arrangements with you to pick one up.

Stormwater Themes