Stormwater Regulatory Background

The Clean Water Act was designed to make local waters safe for their designated uses

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act enacted in 1948 was the principal law governing pollution of the nation’s surface waters.  The Act was totally revised by amendments in 1972, and in 1977 was re-named the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The 1972 legislation defined programs for water quality improvement that have since been expanded and are still being implemented by industries and municipalities. 

The CWA strives to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's water by utilizing a system of water quality standards, discharge limitations and permits.The CWA uses the concept that all discharges into the nation's waters are unlawful, unless specifically authorized by a permit, and  directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement federal regulations governing water quality, including discharges from storm water drainage systems.  Thus, industrial and municipal dischargers must obtain permits from EPA or qualified states under the Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program (authorized in section 402 of the Act). The CWA also allows EPA to delegate NPDES permitting authority to states that have approved regulatory programs.  Within the state of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issues, monitors, and enforces NPDES permits through its legal authority provided by the EPA.

In response to the 1987 Amendments to the CWA, the EPA developed Phase I of the NPDES Storm Water Program in 1990. The Phase I program required permits for storm water discharge from medium to large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s).  It also developed a permit program for eleven categories of industrial activities, including construction activities that disturb five or more acres of land.The Phase II Rule addresses storm water discharge from designated small MS4s.   It also addresses storm water discharges from construction activities disturbing more than one e acre of land. 

The ADEQ has issued statewide general NPDES storm water permits for designated types of municipal, construction and industrial activities.Under the federal storm water regulations, portions of the ARDOT’s properties, facilities, and activities come under the jurisdiction of NPDES storm water regulations for two primary reasons:The ARDOT’s highways and highway-related properties, facilities and activities are served by extensive storm drain systems that in urban areas are often connected to, and are considered to be municipal separate storm sewer systems, which are covered explicitly in the federal storm water regulations.

Construction of the ARDOT’s highways and related facilities often results in soil disturbance of areas of one acre or greater.
For further information, contact the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) NPDES Section.