Federal Stormwater Permits
These permits are:
- The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit: for most cities and towns in Massachusetts, to operate municipal stormwater systems. More information on EPA Region 1’s and MassDEP’s MS4 General Permit. Find more information on compliance information on the MS4 permit below.
- The Construction General Permit: for construction projects disturbing one or more acres. More information on EPA's Construction Stormwater General Permit.
- The Multi-Sector General Permit: to operate industrial facilities in Massachusetts. More information on EPA's Multi-Sector General Permit.
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 Authorization for Stormwater Permits
To receive a state authorization of the following NPDES Stormwater General Permits, a WM15 application is required.
- Construction General Permit
- Multi-Sector General Permit
- Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Permit
For Construction and Multi-Sector General Permits, WM15 applications are only required if the site discharges to or is near Outstanding Resource Waters, as defined in in 314 CMR 4.06.
Instructions on how to submit a WM15 application to MassDEP to obtain authorization to discharge can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/wm-15-npdes-general-permit-notice-of-intent.
The MassDEP Wetlands and Waterways program also oversees the stormwater regulations under the Wetlands Protection Act. For guidance on the stormwater regulations, access the Stormwater Handbook at https://www.mass.gov/guides/massachusetts-stormwater-handbook-and-stormwater-standards.
Local Stormwater Permitting and Management
Local Ordinances and Bylaws
Cities and towns may have local ordinances or bylaws that address stormwater management requirements; contact your city or town for guidance.
Is your construction site greater than 1 acre or is it part of a common development plan that is greater than 1 acre? You may need additional permit coverage. Read on to find out more.
If your construction site (this includes site preparation and clearing) is greater than 1 acre or your development is part of a larger common development plan that is greater than 1 acre and there is a pathway for stormwater to flow from your site directly or indirectly to a water of the US, you will need to seek coverage under the EPA Construction General Permit (CGP) – see https://www.epa.gov/npdes/epas-2017-construction-general-permit-cgp-and-related-documents. You will have to develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP), that if implemented appropriately, reduces pollution from erosion and sedimentation from construction sites; regularly inspect the site for compliance with the SWPPP; and make sure that appropriate erosion control measures are in place and working properly. You can submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to EPA via the NPDES eReporting Tool (NeT).
If your >1 acre construction site also lies near or drains into Outstanding Resource Waters, MassDEP requires review of the stormwater pollution prevention plan that was developed for the CGP. To determine whether your project is near an ORW, please go to https://maps.massgis.digital.mass.gov/MassMapper/MassMapper.html, select the Physical Resources data layers, then Outstanding Resource Waters. If your site is near or discharges to an ORW, please follow instructions at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/wm-15-npdes-general-permit-notice-of-intent to submit the required documents to MassDEP for review and submit the $500 application fee (municipal projects are exempt). Should you have questions about this process, please contact MassDEP at email@example.com.
Existing rate structures for municipalities that have established stormwater enterprise funds, refer to the Massachusetts Stormwater Fee Summary sheet.
Resources and Tools for MS4 Compliance
Funding for MS4 Permittees
Groups of municipalities are eligible for grant money through the MS4 Municipal Assistance Grants administered by MassDEP. These grants allow permittees to develop tools that satisfy portions of the MS4 permit minimum control measures. More information about the Stormwater MS4 Municipal Assistance Grant Program.
Public Education and Outreach
- in English and Spanish educational video on stormwater pollution by Think Blue Massachusetts
- Social Media Messages on stormwater topics in foreign languages by Think Blue Massachusetts
- Social media training for municipal officials by Think Blue Massachusetts
- Interactive map of LID projects by Greenscapes Coalition and Salem Sound 2000
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Annual IDDE Training Video by the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition.
- IDDE Trailer Manual by Mass Maritime Academy and Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative.
- IDDE Trailer Training Materials by Mass Maritime Academy and Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative.
Post Construction Stormwater Management
- Offsite Mitigation Stormwater Management Manual by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
- Street Design and Code Infrastructure Checklist by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
- Model municipal stormwater bylaw by the Neponset River Watershed Association.
- Model municipal stormwater bylaw by the Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative.
- Model municipal stormwater regulations by the Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative.
- GIS analysis to select suitable sites for stormwater retrofits and GI installations by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.
- Municipal Stormwater Codes: A Regional Review for Northeast Massachusetts by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.
- Mystic River Watershed StreamStats catch basin delineation tool by USGS.
- New England Retrofit Manual by the SNEP Network.
- BMP Accounting and Tracking Tool Training Videos by the SNEP Network.
- EPA's BMP Accounting and Tracking Tool.
- Greenscapes Model Bylaw Toolkit by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.
- Equitable Green Infrastructure Tool by the Metropolitan Area Council.
- Land Use Cover Data for the Charles River Watershed by the Charle River Watershed Association.
- A series of virtual training sessions were held to educate the development community on stormwater management by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission:
- What Developers Need to Know: An Overview of MA Stormwater Regulations
- For Contractors, Engineers, and Site Design Professionals: Construction Erosion and Sediment Controls
- For Engineers and Site Design Professionals: Design and Picking the Best Stormwater Solution for Your Site
- For Property Managers and Site Design Professionals: Post Construction Operation and Maintenance
- 2016 MS4 Standard Operation Procedures by the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition
Impaired Waters and Waters with TMDLs
- Nutrient Source Identification Report Methodology by Neponset River Watershed Association in collaboration with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.
- Phosphorus Control Plan Templates for Charles River and Lakes and Ponds Charles River TMDL communities by the Charles River Watershed Association.
- Guidance on calculating baseline Phosphorus Loads using the 2016 Land Use/Land Cover Dataset in Massachusetts by MassDEP and EPA.
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.
Snow Disposal Guidance
MassDEP guidelines for government agencies and private businesses to use in selecting, preparing, and maintaining snow-disposal sites.