Here is the Summary Report (PDF) recently issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board detailing what is being proposed with the MS4 permit update and what has changed in the recently released revised draft of the new regional stormwater permit.
Below find an excerpt from attachment F of the draft permit which explains a bit of stormwater history, and the current draft differs from previous stromwater permits.
V. REGIONAL MS4 PERMIT APPROACH
The Fifth Term Permit, or Regional MS4 Permit, shifts the focus of the permit
requirements from a minimum level of actions to be implemented by the Copermittees
to identifying outcomes to be achieved by those actions. Order No. R9-2013-0001
represents an important paradigm shift in the approach for MS4 permits within the San
Historical Permitting Approach
The First and Second Term Permits were very broad and provided little specificity
about what was required to be developed and implemented by the Copermittees. The
Third Term Permits began to become more specific about the minimum level of
implementation required by the Copermittees. The Fourth Term Permits, or current
permits, subsequently increased in specificity. The MS4 permits have progressively
become more detailed and focused on specifying the minimum level of actions
expected to be implemented by the Copermittees. As detailed and specific as the
MS4 permits have become, however, they include very little detail about what the
desired outcomes of the required actions are expected to achieve. Compliance with
the permit requirements has essentially been tracking numbers of actions and
reporting, not tracking progress or actual improvements in the quality of receiving
waters or discharges from the MS4s. The result has been an increase in actions being
implemented by the Copermittees with little or no ability or expectations to determine
whether or not improvements in water quality are being achieved.
The Fourth Term Permits result in significant resource expenditure by the
Copermittees to report permit compliance information to the San Diego Water Board in
the form of annual jurisdictional runoff management program, watershed program, and
monitoring program reports. The San Diego Water Board must then expend much of
its limited resources on reviewing more than 50 voluminous reports submitted annually
by the Copermittees. The information currently reported by the Copermittees is of
limited value when trying to measure progress toward achieving improvements in the
quality of receiving waters or discharges from the MS4s. Oversight of the MS4 permits
is further complicated by the inconsistencies among the requirements issued to the
Orange County, San Diego County, and Riverside County Copermittees under three
separate MS4 permits.
Under the Fourth Term Permits, the Copermittees must expend a significant portion of
their limited resources collecting data of limited value, and putting together reports to
submit that information to the San Diego Water Board. Likewise, the San Diego Water
Board must expend most of its limited resources reviewing reports, and developing
permits instead of working directly with the Copermittees to identify solutions to
problems causing impacts to water quality. This is an unsustainable course that will
continue to demand more resources from the Copermittees and the San Diego Water
Board, and would continue to result in unknown water quality benefits.
New Permitting Approach
The goal of the Regional MS4 Permit is twofold: 1) bring a consistent set of MS4
permit requirements to all of the Copermittees within the San Diego Region; and, 2)
provide a MS4 permit with requirements that will allow the Copermittees to focus their
efforts and resources on achieving goals and desired outcomes toward the
improvement of water quality rather than completing specific actions.
The overall approach included in the Regional MS4 Permit with respect to the
jurisdictional runoff management programs will not differ significantly from the current
permits. The general requirements for the jurisdictional runoff management program
components and compliance with those requirements will remain and be applied
consistently throughout the San Diego Region under the Regional MS4 Permit.
The most significant difference in the new permitting approach is the specific manner
of implementation for those jurisdictional runoff management programs.
Implementation will be based on decisions made by the Copermittees in accordance
with what they have identified as their highest priority water quality conditions. In other
words, the Copermittees will have significant control in how to implement the
jurisdictional runoff management programs to best utilize their available resources in
addressing a specific set of priorities effectively, instead of trying to address all the
water quality priorities ineffectively.
The Copermittees are given the responsibility of identifying their highest priority water
quality conditions that they intend to address. The Copermittees will develop goals
that can be used to measure and demonstrate progress or improvements toward
addressing those priorities. In addition to the goals, the Copermittees will provide a
schedule for achieving the goals for those highest priorities. The measurement of
progress toward achieving the goals for those highest priorities requires a better
defined and more focused program of monitoring and assessment than under the
Fourth Term Permits.
The monitoring and assessment program must be designed to inform the
Copermittees of their progress, and the need for modifications in their jurisdictional
runoff management programs and schedules to achieve their goals to improve water
quality. The monitoring and assessment program requirements will have a more
central role in the Regional MS4 Permit than in earlier permits. The monitoring and
assessment requirements must also be designed to enable the Copermittees to focus
and direct their efforts in implementing their jurisdictional runoff management
programs toward their stated desired outcomes to improve the quality of receiving
waters and/or discharges from the MS4s.
By providing a MS4 permit that allows the Copermittees to make more decisions about
how to utilize and focus their resources, along with a better defined monitoring and
assessment program to inform their water quality management decisions, the
Copermittees will have the opportunity to:
1) Plan strategically. The Copermittees must have the ability to identify their available
resources and develop and implement long term plans that can organize, collect,
and use those resources in the most strategically advantageous and efficient
manner possible. This ability to develop long term plans will allow the Copermittees
to focus and utilize their resources in a more concerted way over the short term and
long term to address specific water quality priorities through stated desired
2) Manage adaptively. The Copermittees must be given the ability to modify their
plans as additional information and data are collected from the monitoring and
assessment programs. The Copermittees’ plans may require modifications to the
programs, priorities, goals, strategies, and/or schedules in order for the
Copermittees to achieve a stated desired outcome.
3) Identify synergies. The Copermittees must be given more flexibility to identify
efficiencies within and among their jurisdictional runoff management programs as
the strategies are developed and implemented to increase the Copermittees’
collective effectiveness. The Copermittees must also be able to identify and utilize
resources available from other agencies and entities to further augment and
enhance their jurisdictional runoff management programs and/or to collectively work
with those other agencies and entities toward achieving a stated desired outcome.
The Regional MS4 Permit requirements will provide the Copermittees the flexibility and
responsibility to decide what actions will be necessary to achieve an outcome that is
tailored and designed by the Copermittees to improve specific prioritized water quality
conditions. The San Diego Water Board expects the approach of the Regional MS4
Permit to give the Copermittees a greater sense of ownership for restoring the quality
of receiving waters in the San Diego Region by becoming an integral part of the
decision making process in identifying water quality conditions to be addressed, as
well as determining the best use of their resources.