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flowAs more is learned about the impacts of urban runoff on waterways, more regulations are developed in an attempt to mitigate those impacts. These regulations are generally developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Clean Water Act. The State of Oregon, through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), has accepted delegation from EPA, meaning they are responsible for implementing the federal regulations at the state level.

DEQ has adopted two stormwater regulations that affect Albany:

  • Willamette River Basin Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL); and the
  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Phase II.

DEQ has determined that the Willamette River does not meet water-quality standards for temperature, mercury, and bacteria. Since Albany discharges stormwater and treated wastewater to the Willamette River, we have been identified as a designated management agency (DMA) and are required to submit a TMDL implementation plan to help restore the water quality of the Willamette River. Many elements of the plan are related to stormwater. Albany is required to provide an updated plan every five years. Albany has been increasing its efforts towards TMDL compliance each year. Find more information about Albany’s TMDL Implementation Plan here.

Now that Albany’s population exceeds 50,000, we must comply with NPDES MS4 Phase II requirements. DEQ manages NPDES compliance by a permit that requires a Stormwater Management Plan specific to Albany. The permit will specify many activities Albany must complete. DEQ is developing new permit processes and requirements for NPDES MS4 Phase II communities. Albany expects to be required to apply for the new permit in early 2019. Details of the permit and required plan are complex and generally fall under what federal rules call the six minimum control measures. Each is listed here with a link to the EPA fact sheet that describes it.

These fact sheets provide a general understanding of basic regulatory requirements for a community of Albany’s size. However, states that have accepted responsibility for implementing stormwater permits can impose more stringent requirements if they determine additional action is necessary to protect water quality. Based on review of DEQ’s draft permits, Albany believes DEQ will attempt to impose much more than the federally-identified minimum requirements. 

Albany staff and legal counsel are closely monitoring the DEQ permit development process.  Albany staff believes the proposed requirements are unreasonable and we are working with various partners to communicate that to DEQ.  Complying with the proposed regulations could cost Albany rate payers an additional $1,000,000 per year.  We estimate complying with reasonable requirements would cost an additional $300,000 per year.  

Once a permit is issued, compliance with DEQ regulations is mandatory.  If the permit remains as proposed, the City must implement it.  Regulated entities in Oregon that do not comply can be fined up to $37,500 per violation per day by EPA and $25,000 per violation per day by DEQ.  When Salt Lake County, Utah, recently failed to comply, they were fined $280,000 and still must fully comply with their permit requirements (DOJ Case No. 90-5-1-1-10984).  Third-party, citizen lawsuits can be filed to force compliance, and criminal prosecution is a possibility if the non-compliance is found to be intentional. 

Visit Past Presentations and Public Meetings to see memo, presentation, and meeting minutes where the City Council discussed state and federal regulatory requirements.