Welcome to the Allen County Surveyor's Office Water Quality Home Page. The Allen County Surveyor's Office is working to help improve the water quality of our rivers and streams. Our goal is to enhance and conserve these valuable natural resources and to provide for their continued use and enjoyment for future generations.
Common pollutants such as oil, grease, paints, salt from roadways, fertilizers, and pesticides, sediment from construction sites, detergents, pet waste, failing septic discharges, trash, household chemical, and hazardous waste dumping all impair waterways - discouraging recreational use, contaminating drinking water supplies, and interfering with habitat for fish, other aquatic organisms and wildlife. Dumping pollutants into storm drains within your yard or along your street can be harmful because what flows into most storm drains is not treated before reaching the streams and rivers of Allen County.
It takes individual behavioral change and proper practices to control such pollution. Everyone in the community must work towards the same goal of improving water quality. It is up to us to do our best to keep pollutants out of the storm drains and waterways. Everyone has a part to play in keeping our water clean. You can help make a difference!
What is Stormwater?
Storm water is exactly what it sounds like. When it rains, or when snow melts, water that is not soaked into the ground flows across the land and may go directly into a storm drain and straight to a nearby river or creek. This rainwater can pick up pollutants along the way such as sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, vehicle fluids (motor oil, gasoline, and antifreeze), paints, trash, and pet waste. Therefore, it is extremely important to minimize the amount of pollutants that stormwater can pick up as it flows to our area rivers to maintain the integrity and quality of these waters.
NPDES Phase II Storm Water Program
On December 8, 1999, Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program was published in the Federal Register. Phase II of the NPDES program requires permit coverage for stormwater discharges from regulated municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). This Federal regulation went into effect March 10, 2003. In response to Phase II of the NPDES program, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management enacted Rule 13 (327 IAC 15-13) and revised Rule 5 (327 IAC 15-5). In December of 2021, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management rescinded Rule 5 and Rule 13 and issued the Construction and MS4 General Permits to regulate discharges of stormwater from construction activities into surface waters of the State of Indiana.
Under these new General Permit regulatory requirements, Allen County is required to update its regulatory mechanism for regulating stormwater quality management. In the EPA's continued efforts to improve and prolong water quality for our nation, one of the main objectives of the NPDES Phase II regulations is to reduce and retain sediment onsite during and after construction. Hence, the requirements of the General Permits apply to all persons who are involved in construction activity (which includes clearing, grading, and excavating) that results in the disturbance of one acre or more of land area. The Allen County Surveyor requires a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which includes erosion and sediment control measures and materials handling procedures, to be submitted as part of the construction plans and specifications. The SWPPP and post-construction pollution prevention plan are required to be reviewed and approved by the Allen County Surveyor's Office before any site grading activity can take place. (Please see the Allen County Stormwater Management Ordinance for further information).
The Phase II regulations mandate six minimum control measures must be implemented for compliance. These measures are as follows:
- Public Education and Outreach - Requires that the constituents be educated about the impacts of polluted stormwater runoff on receiving waters and also provides ways to prevent stormwater pollution.
- Public Participation and Involvement - This minimum control measure requires that opportunities be provided to constituents to participate in the stormwater management program development and implementation.
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination - Requires a plan to be developed and implemented to detect, address, and eliminate illegal dumping into rivers, streams, and water bodies.
- Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control - Requires the development of an ordinance and construction program that controls polluted runoff from construction activities that disturb one or more acres of land. The construction program must include a permitting process, erosion control plan review process, site inspections, and enforcement.
- Post-Construction Stormwater Runoff Control - Requires the development of an ordinance and post-construction program that addresses the minimization of pollutants from long-term post-construction runoff resulting from new development and redevelopment areas that disturb one or more acres of land.
- Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping - Requires the development and implementation of a program to prevent or reduce polluted runoff from municipal operations.
Allen County, the Town of Huntertown, and the Town of Leo-Cedarville are working under a joint permit to fulfill the requirements of the Construction and MS4 General Permits and the six minimum control measures.
In 1972, Congress took aim at industrial wastewater and municipal sewage discharges by passing the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments, commonly known as the Clean Water Act. The purpose of the act was to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." The Clean Water Act allowed the states to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. Once the U.S. EPA approved their request, state NPDES authorities administered the program consistent with minimum federal requirements for monitoring, reporting, enforcement, and other practices.
In 1987 Congress enacted the Water Quality Act (WQA), which amended the 1972 Clean Water Act and required the U.S. EPA to apply NPDES permit program requirements to farms, factories, and city streets.
Then, beginning in 1990, the EPA required large municipalities, certain industrial facilities, and construction sites disturbing at least 5 acres of land to obtain NPDES permits for their stormwater discharges. Dubbed "Phase I," the program required municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) located in counties or metropolitan areas with populations larger than 100,000 to obtain NPDES permit coverage.
In 1998, the EPA proposed regulations to expand the NPDES Phase I stormwater program to include small municipalities and counties, as well as construction sites disturbing at least 1 acre of land. On December 8, 1999, the EPA issued regulations that expanded the existing NPDES Storm Water Program to regulate most MS4 entities (cities, towns, universities, colleges, correctional facilities, hospitals, conservancy districts, homeowner's associations, and military bases) located within mapped urbanized areas, as delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau, or, for those MS4 areas outside of urbanized areas, serving an urban population greater than 7,000 people. In addition to these generalized criteria, the designation of MS4 entities is potentially determined by other factors, including population growth and documentation which indicates water quality impairment. These regulations are referred to as the NPDES Phase II Storm Water Program. The urbanized area of Allen County, the Town of Huntertown, and the Town of Leo-Cedarville met these criteria and were consequently designated as MS4 entities.
In the State of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is responsible for the development and oversight of the NPDES Phase II Program. IDEM initiated the adoption of the Phase II Rules that were codified as 327 IAC 15-13 (Rule 13) that became effective on August 6, 2003. IDEM also revised Rule 5 (327 IAC 15-5), which specifies pollution prevention requirements for stormwater discharges from construction activities. Rule 13 required designated MS4 entities to apply for permit coverage by submitting a Notice of Intent (NOI) and developing Storm Water Quality Management Plans (SWQMPs) through a phased submittal process. On December 18, 2021, IDEM issued a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer General Permit (MS4GP) and a Construction Stormwater General Permit (CSGP). The MS4GP replaced 327 IAC 15-13 (Rule 13) which had previously established the permitting requirements for all designated MS4s in Indiana. The CSGP replaces the requirements of IDEM's Rule 5. The CSGP is a performance-based regulation designed to reduce pollutants that are associated with construction and / or land-disturbing activities and regulate discharges of stormwater from construction activities into surface waters of the State of Indiana. These General Permits provide new water quality regulatory requirements and require all MS4s to update their stormwater quality programs.
Allen County and the Towns of Huntertown and Leo-Cedarville are completing the updates to their stormwater quality program that are required in the new General Permits and are moving forward with an updated Program Implementation Plan.