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MS4 Toolbox

According to the federal law commonly known as Stormwater Phase II, permits are required for stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas and those additionally designated by the Department. Owners or operators of such MS4s must be authorized in accordance with the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.

This page contains information and reference material that will aid in the implementation of a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) and provide assistance in meeting the permit and program requirements.

Program Assistance Documents

Stormwater Assessment and Design Modeling Tools (Appendix D) (PDF) - The document summarizes modeling tools that may be used to implement NYS stormwater design standard requirements and assess MS4 Stormwater Management Plans.

Local School District Decision Tree for MS4 Designation - Information will help a school district evaluate its MS4 designation

Decision Tree for MS4 Waiver I (PDF) - The document will help MS4s evaluate eligibility for Waiver I.

MS4 Program Reporting by Year Checklist (PDF) - This checklist outlines all activities and/or tasks that a required under the General Permit to be reported during specific permit term years (i.e. first, second, or third year). This checklist is intended to be used as a tool for any regulated traditional land use control MS4 and not to replace the requirements outline in the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit (GP-0-15-003).

Census Blocks with Population List (Excel) - This spreadsheet provides the population, based on the 2010 Census, of every census block within the Automatically Designated Boundaries of New York State. This list will help determine the total population within a municipality's Automatically Designated Boundary when evaluating eligibility for a waiver.

Reference and Google Earth Maps

Google Earth logo

Google Earth map of Impaired Waterbodies Applicable to MS4s (requires Google Earth to be installed on your computer) - This map highlights impaired waterbodies that are applicable to the waiver eligibility criteria.

Owner/operators may use this reference tool to determine if their MS4 (system) discharges into an impaired waterbody listed on the Priority Waterbodies List (PWL) in order to make a determination about waiver eligibility. Discharge to the impaired waterbodies listed on this map does not necessarily subject the MS4 to the requirements for discharges to an impaired waterbody (Part III.B of GP-0-15-003). The owner/operator should review Appendix 2 of the general permit (GP-0-15-003) to confirm permit requirements, as well as, verify the information in this map with the NYS Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List.

Google Earth Logo

Google Earth map of Estimated Populations within Automatically Designated Areas for MS4s (requires Google Earth to be installed on your computer) - This is a map of the Automatically Designated Areas in NYS identified by the U.S. Census Bureau. The map includes estimated populations (based on the 2010 U.S. Census Data) within the Automatically Designated Areas for MS4s.It is the responsibility of the municipality to determine the true population within the Automatically Designated Area by using information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Census. The instructions, Decision Tree for MS4 Waiver Criteria (PDF) and the map may be used to help MS4s to determine their eligibility for a waiver.

MS4 Reference Map Books of Urbanized and Additionally Designated Areas - These map books highlight the 2000 and 2010 urbanized area boundary, and the additionally designated boundaries.

Visit DEC's Google Maps and Earth web page for general information about Google Earth and for instructions on how to download Google Earth.

Guidance Videos

The following videos are intended to help MS4 owner/operators understand their eligibility for a waiver form, determine the true population within the Automatically Designated Areas, and help them to complete the waiver form. All video links go to DEC's YouTube Videos.

Part I - Tutorial on how to determine eligibility for a MS4 Waiver. Please use the Supplemental Material Part I (PDF) for links and information provided in guidance video.

Part II - Tutorial on how to determine the true population within the Automatically Designated Area for municipalities subject to the SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). Please use the Supplemental Material Part II (PDF) for links and information provided in guidance video.

Overview of the Minimum Control Measures (MCM)

The permit requires development of a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) that includes the six required program components, or the six minimum control measures (MCMs).

1. Public Education and Outreach

This includes the distribution of educational materials and outreach activities that inform the public about the impacts of polluted stormwater runoff can have on water quality.

2. Public Participation/Involvement

Provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the development, implementation, review and revision of the stormwater management program. This includes publicizing public hearings and encouraging citizens participate in the stormwater management program process.

3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Develop, implement and enforce a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges. This includes developing and maintaining a map of outfall locations and their receiving waterbodies, mapping the storm sewer shed, prohibit illicit discharges through laws or ordinances, and inform the public about the hazards associated with illegal discharges and the improper disposal of waste.

4. Construction Site Runoff Control

Develop, implement and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction activities that disturb greater than or equal to one acre of land.

5. Post-construction Runoff Control

Develop, implement and enforce a plan that addresses stormwater runoff from new development and redevelopment projects and incorporates enforceable mechanisms. Applicable controls could include preventative actions (e.g., protecting sensitive areas) or the use of structural controls (e.g., grassed swales or porous pavement).

6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping

Develop and implement a program to prevent or reduce pollutant runoff from municipal operations. The program must include municipal staff training on pollution prevention measures and activities to reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater (e.g., regular street sweeping, reduce the use of pesticides or street salt, or frequent cleaning of catch-basins).

Stormwater Management Guidance Manual for Local officials (September, 2004)

To help localities comply with state and federal stormwater management requirements, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of State issued the Stormwater Management Guidance Manual for Local Officials (PDF). Appendix 1: Sample Local Law (PDF) was updated in 2006. This manual deals with developing and implementing local stormwater management programs, Minimum Measures 4 and 5 under the federal stormwater management program.

The manual has been distributed to local governments in print format, with a compact disk that provides associated technical and permit documentation. This Web site offers an electronic version of the manual. If you wish to obtain a printed copy of the manual or the CD package please contact us.

This Guidance Manual contains information useful to local officials involved in stormwater management, whether in a regulated MS4 or in a community or institution that is not subject to the state/federal stormwater management rules. Tables and Checklists provide easy-to-use analysis tools.

Resources for Newly Designated MS4s

EPA identified new MS4s based on the 2010 Census urbanized areas maps. The designation requires coverage the under the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.

Newly designated MS4s are encouraged to review the General Permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, GP-0-15-003, forms, and supplemental documents. These documents are available on the Stormwater MS4 Permit and Forms web page.

Assistance Documents

MS4 Introduction and Overview Presentation (PDF) - this presentation is an overview and introduction to the MS4 program

Overview of Federal Requirements for MS4 Designation (PDF) - overview of definitions and the federal requirements for a municipality to be designated as a MS4.

Decision Tree for Local School Districts - information will help to evaluate a school districts MS4 designation.

Decision Tree for MS4 Waiver I (PDF) - the document will help MS4s evaluate eligibility for Waiver I.

Getting Started: Thoughtful Consideration (PDF) - This document provides guidance on the thoughts and considerations that are necessary during the beginning stages of developing and implementing a Stormwater Management Program and Plan that will meet Federal and State regulatory requirements. It is meant to help owners or operators of an MS4 understand the basic context and intent of the stormwater regulations.

EPA's National Menu of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Stormwater - A link leaving DEC's website to the EPA compiled list of BMPs for each Minimum Control Measure.

EPA's Stormwater Phase II Final Rule Fact Sheet Series- A link leaving DEC's website to the EPA fact sheets about small MS4 programs, minimum control measures and permitting.

Recommendations for Stormwater Managers

Developing, implementing, and enforcing the Stormwater Management Program involves additions and modifications to many areas of responsibility. Stormwater program managers must make sure that municipal personnel (elected officials, professional staff, and laborers) are informed about the value and necessity; assigned appropriate responsibilities; provided with technical and procedural training; and have appropriate performance standards.

Stormwater Management Programs should be designed to work in concert with other water resource improvement projects. When possible managers should use inter-municipal partnerships to improve efficiency, promote consistency, and reduce costs.

MS4s are encouraged to contact NYSARC representatives for information about local stormwater coalitions. NYSARC contact information can be found on the Partners Available to Assist MS4s web page.

Funding Opportunities

MS4 Draft Funding Document (PDF) was developed to summarize the provisions in existing state law that may allow for the funding of the local share of the MS4 program.


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