Federal Stormwater Permits
These permits are:
- The Construction General Permit: for construction projects disturbing one or more acres.
- The Multi-Sector General Permit: to operate industrial facilities in Massachusetts.
- The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit: for most cities and towns in Massachusetts, to operate municipal stormwater systems. Find more information in the Municipal Compliance Stormwater Fact Sheet.
MassDEP has compiled materials to assist affected municipalities in complying with the MS4 permit; see "Stormwater Outreach Materials to Help Towns Comply with the MS4 Permit" and the documents below.
State Stormwater Standards and Permits
Massachusetts administers stormwater standards through provisions of the Wetlands Protection regulations, 310 CMR 10.00.
Depending on their type and jurisdiction, projects that have a stormwater-management component may fall under:
- Wetlands Notices of Intent (WPA Form 3): filed with the local Conservation Commission for projects in wetland areas
- Surface Water Discharge General Permit (WM 15): for Construction General Permits or Multi-Sector General Permits in Outstanding Resource Waters.
Local Stormwater Permitting and Management
Cities and towns may have local stormwater and/or wetlands bylaws; contact your city or town for guidance.
Many communities in Massachusetts have established Stormwater Enterprise Funds to cover the annual expenditures that come with fulfilling the requirements of the MS4 permit. Since the 2016 MS4 permit has gone into effect the number of towns that have Stormwater Enterprise Funds has doubled. If your town is interested in establishing an enterprise fund for stormwater management, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has prepared a Stormwater Financing Starter Kit. To see examples of existing rate structures for towns that have established stormwater enterprise funds, refer to the Massachusetts Stormwater Fee Summary sheet.
Local officials seeking guidance on developing stormwater controls are encouraged to visit the "Think Blue Massachusetts" website for information and resources.
Resources and Tools for MS4 Compliance
The Municipal Small Separate Sewer System (MS4) Permit is comprised of six elements, which are anticipated to greatly contribute to reducing pollution to water resources if implemented collectively. The six minimum control measures of the MS4 Permit are:
- Public Education and Outreach: Municipalities are required to provide educational material to four audiences - residents, industry, commercial, and construction - on how their activities impact stormwater.
- Public Participation: Municipalities are required to provide an opportunity for the public to participate in the development/implementation of their Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) at least annually. Notices must comply with state public notice requirements.
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination: Municipalities are required to proactively and systematically find and eliminate sources of non-stormwater from their storm sewer system.
- Management of Construction Site Runoff: Municipalities are required to have an ordinance for management of stormwater discharges from construction sites that disturb one or more acres of land. The ordinance should include requirements for projects to implement sediment and erosion control practices as well as requirements for site plan review.
- Management of Post Construction Site Runoff: (New Development and Redevelopment): For development and redevelopment projects that disturb one or more acres of land, municipalities are required to address stormwater runoff by retaining it on site through low impact design techniques and green infrastructure practices.
- Good Housekeeping in Municipal Operations: Municipalities are required to implement good housekeeping practices in municipal operations, create pollution prevention plans for waste management facilities and maintenance garages, carry out street sweeping at least annually, and optimize catch basin cleaning.
Groups of municipalities have been awarded grant money through the MS4 Assistance Grants administered by MassDEP to develop tools that satisfy portions of the 2016 MS4 permit's minimum control measures. More information about the Stormwater MS4 Municipal Assistance Grant Program.
Public Education and Outreach
- THINK BLUE is a statewide stormwater education campaign that describes stormwater-related environmental issues and provides all municipalities with stormwater education materials.
- The Greenscapes Coalition, with Salem Sound 2000, published a web-based interactive map of LID projects installed statewide and 3 short videos describing successful urban, suburban and coastal LID practices.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- The Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition worked with a consultant to develop an online video workshop that meets the annual IDDE training requirement for the 2016 MS4 permit. View the video here:
- The Massachusetts Maritime Academy, with the Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative, pooled resources for an illicit-discharge-investigation mobile trailer that can be shared among multiple communities. The manual containing a list of equipment and accompanying standard operating procedures is here:
Mass Maritime Academy-Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative Discharge-Investigation Trailer Manual
Post Construction Stormwater Management
- The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission developed an offsite mitigation manual for post construction stormwater management that meets the requirements of the 2016 MS4 permit.
- The Neponset Stormwater Partnership has prepared a model municipal stormwater bylaw that satisfies requirements of the 2016 MS4 permit.
- The Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative has developed a model bylaw and accompanying regulation that satisfy requirements of the 2016 MS4 permit.
Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative model bylaw
Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative model regulation
- The Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition developed a collection of 22 MS4 relevant Standard Operating Procedures and templates.
Learn more about the communities that were awarded grants during the 2021 grant cycle at: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-awards-funding-to-help-communities-meet-stormwater-permitting-0
Stormwater Policies & Guidance
Complete Erosion and Sedimentation Control Guidelines: a Guide for Planners, Designers, and Municipal Officials
Best management practices for controlling erosion and sedimentation.
The Massachusetts Stormwater Handbook
Last revised in February 2008.
Wetlands Program Method to Convert Stormwater Water Quality Volume to Peak Flow Rate
A standardized conversion method for this calculation.
Water Resource Management Planning Guidance Document
This guidance is intended to explain the types of water management planning reports towns and communities can use when approaching their particular wastewater, drinking water and stormwater issues.