Request for Comments on Draft Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (Small MS4) Storm Water General Permit
At our CSFC Executive Committee meeting earlier this week, we were briefed by Ian Padilla from the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (C.A.S.H.) on issues related to actions taken by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) related to stormwater. This issue will also be discussed at our upcoming CSFC Summit on September 20, 2011 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
According to Ian, on June 7, 2011, the SWRCB released its draft Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Storm Water General Permit for public review. A previous iteration of the draft MS4 would have required nearly all schools in California to comply with the requirements of the permit.
As a result of the education community’s advocacy efforts, the SWRCB recognized the education community’s difficult fiscal situation by not automatically designating schools. Schools should not be “designated” (i.e. subject to the requirements in the draft permit) under the permit.
This represents a significant victory for the education community. It is important to note, however, that the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCB) retain the authority to designate individual schools on a case-by-case basis, and so in the context of the MS4, “not automatically designated” is not exactly the same as “exempt”. In addition, for schools and other permittees who discharge into “sensitive water bodies” as defined in the MS4, the level of scrutiny will be higher by the RWQCBs and may trigger additional requirements.
More Work to Do
A technical oversight in the draft permit language is of particular concern to the COE community. Specifically, the draft MS4 permit language specifies that “school districts and charter schools” are not automatically designed, but does not specifically state that county offices of education are included. CASH and LACOE requested that county offices of education be included explicitly in the non-designation language, and recommended specific language for the SWRCB’s consideration.
Please Submit a Public Comment Letter
Ian suggested that CSFC submit a public comment letter which thanks for SWRCB for not automatically designating schools and requests that county offices of education be included in the permit language.
Roger Chang from the Los Angeles County Office of Education also provided detailed comments and a draft letter for your review and action. CSFC urges you, as individual COEs, to submit a public comment letter supporting the inclusion of COEs in the non-designation language of the MS4, as well as the non-designation provision.
The letter can be submitted electronically and is due to the State Water Resources Control Board by September 8, 2011 at noon. Please submit your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Feel free to contact Anna Ferrera at (916) 441-3300 or Ian Padilla at (916) 448-8577 if you need more information.