Cecil & Queen Anne’s Counties Jointly Appeal Phase II MS4 Permit

MyEasternShoreMd.com article (2018-06-07) reported that Queen Anne’s County and Cecil County have jointly appealed their recently issued National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Phase II MS4 permits can apply to smaller jurisdictions with some urbanized population and are mandated under the federal Clean Water Act. The permit sets stormwater mitigation and retrofit goals that a local government must meet by the end of the permit’s term.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has delegated authority from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to draft, issue, and enforce MS4 permits in Maryland. MDE issued the most recent Phase II MS4 permit on April 27, 2018. The permit will take effect October 31 of 2018 and has a 5-year term. This permit will apply to Calvert, Cecil, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Wicomico Counties, and numerous municipalities. Ten of Maryland’s counties are subject to a broader Phase I permit that is specifically tailored for each jurisdiction.

The article noted that while Cecil County is already a Phase II permit jurisdiction, this will be the first time Queen Anne’s County has received the designation. Both counties are appealing based on budgetary concerns regarding compliance with a 20% impervious surface area retrofit goal, which is estimated to cost Queen Anne’s County approximately $10 million through 2025. From the article:

Cecil County’s existing permit requirements have been manageable, but the added restoration requirement would add millions more to Cecil’s annual budget as well.

It is unfortunate that counties must file an appeal seeking to resolve matters contained in the permit, [Queen Anne’s County] commissioners said. The county is working to improve the environment in many ways and has devoted considerable resources toward improving the natural environment for the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay, its residents, businesses and guests….The county strongly believes, however, that the extraordinary restoration and retrofit requirements prescribed by the permit are not financially or operationally practicable to fulfill, commissioners said.

Useful Links

MDE Phase II Permit Web Page

New Phase II Permit (issued by MDE on April 27, 2018)

Prior Conduit Street MS4 Permit Coverage

Learn more about both Phase I and Phase II MS4 permit issues at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference from August 15 to 18 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: