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Pollution Prevention and Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Ordinance

The Q&A format below is intended to provide a quick overview of the reasoning behind this ordinance.

The following link provides direct access to the Ordinance.

Storm Water Pollution and Illicit Discharge Ordinance

Additional web link information is provided at the end of the Q&A content.


Question 1: Why do we need a new Ordinance?

Answer 1: Much of the Country has been under the EPA permitting rules for NPDES permitting related to Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) including the larger Counties and Municipalities of Maryland for years. Under the EPA guidelines and Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) NPDES permitting program, the County was designated to fall under those rules in 2018. 

A requirement of the permit is that the County develop an ordinance and program to address Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (to prevent pollution from moving though the stormwater flows of developed properties)

Up until now, the only environmental items for address by the County have been their specific MDE point source permitting and the solid waste program.

Question 2: What does this ordinance do?

Answer 2: The new ordinance is intended to:

  1. Regulate the contribution of pollutants to the MS4 by stormwater discharges by any user.
  2. Prohibit illicit connections and discharges to the MS4.
  3. Establish legal authority to carry out all inspection, surveillance, monitoring, and enforcement procedures necessary to ensure compliance with the MDE General NPDES permit.

Question 3: What is an illicit discharge?

Answer 3: The term “illicit discharge” is defined in EPA’s Phase II storm water regulations as “any discharge to a municipal separate storm sewer that is not composed entirely of storm water, there are some exceptions to this as identified in the ordinance and more informal information on this is available on the County web site, How DO I? - Report - Pollution Problems You may use this link to access the page quickly.

Question 4: Who does this affect?

Answer 4: Almost everybody to a degree. Anywhere there is development, irrespective of the date of construction, if the stormwater from the site finds it way into one of our many streams, the potential exists for pollutants to be washed into the waters of the state of U.S. The County is required to identify and then routinely inspect stormwater outfalls to determine if pollutants are present. 

More concerning for our resident businesses is the requirement to prioritize locations with a higher probability of producing pollutants.

Question 5: How do I report potential pollution problems.

Answer 5: There are two mechanisms in place. This link, How DO I? - Report - Pollution Problems, is the starting point. The web page first introduces the concerns and our standard 311 link. A reporting category has been added for potential pollution. The link page also provides information on two voice mailbox options to allow for reporting of perceived problems regarding pollution and stormwater management. Shortly we will be developing protocols that will be reviewed by MDE on the investigation, documentation and enforcement of pollution reports and inspections. The intention is to roll out the approved protocols when by the Ordinance effective date.

Question 6: How can I find out more about the County’s obligations under the MS4 Permit?

Answer 6: Additional information can be found on the DPW&T webpage Engineering link WIP III and NPDES MS4 which includes the first year progress report information. This page also includes a feedback form for any comments or questions you may have on the report.