Frederick Questions How Phase III WIP & New MS4 Permits Will Align

Frederick News-Post article (2019-04-29) reported that Frederick County raised concerns about how Maryland’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), which is currently open for public comment, will synchronize with the County’s new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which is set to be issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment towards the end of the year. Frederick is not the only county facing this issue.

The Phase III WIP is the state’s broad roadmap that lays out how the state will meet its final nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reduction targets under the federally mandated Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. MS4 permits require jurisdictions to treat stormwater runoff, including the retrofitting of impervious surfaces.

A Frederick County representative asked a recent gathering of Administration heads how the MS4 would relate to the Phase III WIP. From the article:

“We don’t know what our next-generation permit looks like. They haven’t shown it to us yet,” said Don Dorsey, who co-runs the capital improvements program for Frederick County’s stormwater permit at the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources. …

“Will we have time to look at the accounting for stormwater guidelines with those reductions and have the opportunity to utilize that new information prior to this [plan] going into play?” Dorsey asked the panel of agency leaders on Monday.

Yes and no. The Watershed Implementation Plan is an overarching planning document and won’t have details from every MS4 permit before it is completed. However, the agencies are trying to make the plan as close to what will eventually go in those permits, said Greg Busch, the deputy manager of the Integrated Water Planning Program at the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The article also stated that state officials promised to set more realistic goals than the last round of MS4 permits, which many counties struggled to meet. The draft Phase III WIP looks for further reductions from agriculture and wastewater treatment plants to help meet Maryland’s pollution reduction goals. The article highlighted the concerns of the agricultural community over their proposed targets and calls by some in the environmental community to increase the use of forested buffers and the conversion of cropland to pasture.