Stormwater Coalition

Working Together to Reduce Stormwater Pollution

Established in 2000, the Monroe County Stormwater Coalition is composed of 29 municipal members.

By working together, Coalition members are able to comply with the federal stormwater regulations and improve water quality in a cost-effective manner. At this time, the Coalition is funded through membership fees and grants. However, the Coalition is pursuing a long-term funding strategy.

The Coalition meets on a monthly basis and leadership is provided by a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Executive Committee. The Coalition has three staff persons that are located at the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services. The work of the Coalition is advanced by three task groups: Education, Construction, and Illicit Discharges/Pollution Prevention.

The Coalition implements a wide range of projects and programs including public education, training for municipal employees and the land development community, demonstrations of practices that reduce polluted runoff from developed land, technical assistance with permits and erosion control, investigations of stormwater outfalls for indicators of illegal discharges, assessments of municipal facilities for opportunities to prevent pollution, and a Stormwater Master Plan for Monroe County to identify needed infrastructure.

The Coalition has developed partnerships with several organizations in order to utilize existing expertise and maximize its efforts. Partners include the Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District, the Water Education Collaborative (WEC), Rochester Museum & Science Center, and Seneca Park Zoo. For example, the Coalition is a major supporter of the WEC’s award winning H2O Hero public education campaign. Through the campaign, the Coalition seeks to inspire residents to protect water quality in their everyday lives. For more information about the campaign, visit www.H2OHero.org.

What is Stormwater Pollution?

Stormwater pollution is the sediment, bacteria, fertilizers, pesticides, automotive fluids, and other materials that are washed from surfaces such as parking lots, roads, roofs, and construction sites during a rain storm or snow melt. The gutters, storm drains, pipes, ditches, and outfalls that comprise the stormwater system transport these pollutants to the nearest waterway. In many cases, stormwater runoff is not treated at a wastewater treatment plant. For more details about stormwater pollution as well as information about how residents can protect water quality, visit www.H2OHero.org.

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How is Stormwater Regulated?

Since the enactment of the Federal Clean Water Act in 1972, the focus of efforts to control water pollution has continued to evolve. The primary concern of the Stormwater Coalition is the Phase II Stormwater Regulations which came into effect in New York state in 2003. Phase II regulates stormwater systems in smaller communities and construction projects larger than one acre.

Monroe County, the City of Rochester, and most of the towns and villages within the county are regulated under Phase II and are required to implement a program composed of six minimum control measures: public education, public participation, control of illicit discharges, erosion control at construction sites, post-construction stormwater treatment, and pollution prevention at municipal facilities. The regulated municipalities are required to submit annual reports to NYS detailing their compliance program. These reports are posted to the Coalition’s website for public review and comment. For additional information and details about Stormwater Phase II, visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/43150.html

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What is the County’s Role?

Monroe County is a regulated municipality under the Phase II Stormwater Regulations. The county is a member of the Coalition, hosts the Coalition’s three staffpersons, and acts as the fiscal agent for the group in applying for grants and managing funds.

In addition, the county’s Department of Environmental Services owns, operates, and maintains the storm sewer collection system in the City of Rochester. The storm sewer system in the majority of the city is unique within Monroe County, as it is combined with the sanitary sewer system and shares the same network of pipes with treatment provided at the VanLare Wastewater Treatment Facility. However, there are some sections of the City that are served by separate storm sewers (like those found in the towns and villages in Monroe County)

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Coalition Programs

Education & Public Participation Programs:

Engaging the public in efforts to reduce stormwater pollution and protect water quality is a high priority for the Coalition. In its efforts to educate the public, the Coalition has sought to develop partnerships and build on existing successful programs in the community.

For instance, the Coalition is a major supporter of the Water Education Collaborative’s “H2O Hero Campaign." This mass media campaign was developed and is being implemented through grant support from the Ad Council of Rochester and in-kind donations of professional services from various marketing and media companies. The campaign consists of paid and donated advertisements on television, radio, print, billboards and online. The advertisements educate the public on how the stormwater system functions and encourage residents to take action to reduce stormwater pollution around their homes. The advertisements also promote the campaign website and Facebook fan page which have more detailed information about stormwater pollution, water quality and volunteer opportunities.

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The Coalition also partners with popular educational institutions in the Rochester area to bring its message to large numbers of residents. For example, the Coalition funded a permanent exhibit at the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) featuring the H2O Hero. Museum visitors can explore local watersheds and, through interactive touch screens, learn about how they can protect water quality.  

The Coalition is also a supporter of an exhibit at the Seneca Park Zoo that focuses on backyard habitats and reducing stormwater pollution around the home. Phase I of the exhibit opened in the spring of 2011 and includes a wall-mounted version of the H2O Hero’s house with panels that visitors can open to learn about water quality. The exhibit also features a rain barrel, rain garden, and educational signage.  

The Coalition, along with its partners, implements a range of other education and public participation activities to compliment the H2O Hero campaign and exhibits. Activities include presentations in schools and at community events using a table-top watershed model to demonstrate how stormwater runoff can pollute local waterways. Public participation programs include storm drain marking, watershed clean ups, and rain barrel and rain garden workshops. For more details visit www.H2OHero.org or contact the Coalition staff.  

Education Resources & Documents:
 

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Illicit Discharge Programs:

The Coalition provides a range of services to address illicit discharges into the stormwater system including inspections, investigations, mapping and data management, training and education.

Illicit discharges can come from a wide-range of sources including illegal dumping of paints, hazardous wastes, and wash-water, as well as improper connections of sanitary sewer lines or laundry waste to the stormwater system. Illicit discharges can seriously degrade water quality and are a widespread problem especially in commercial and other high risk areas. However, because these sources are intermittent, and sometimes not visible, they often go undetected.

To assist the municipalities in eliminating illicit discharges, the Coalition developed a stormwater outfall inspection protocol and data form. A stormwater outfall is a point where a municipal stormwater sewer system discharges into receiving waters. As resources are available, the Coalition conducts the inspections on behalf of the member municipalities and provides extensive technical assistance in developing geographic information system (GIS) -based maps of the stormwater system. These maps are a critical resource when outfalls with suspected illicit discharges are identified and can be used to track the discharge back to its source.

The Coalition also provides training to municipal staff on the importance of illicit discharges and how to perform inspections and investigations. Municipal staff are a critical component of the Coalition’s efforts to identify and eliminate illicit discharges as they are out working in the community every day and can identify potential illicit discharges if they have been trained to recognize the indicators.

In addition, the Coalition seeks to promote other efforts in the community that reduce illicit discharges, such as Monroe County’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program. Through this program Monroe County provides residents with a way to safely recycle or dispose of household hazardous waste free-of-charge. Information about HHW is included in many Coalition public education pieces and programs. For details, visit http://www.monroecounty.gov/des-hhw.php

Illicit Discharges Resources & Documents:

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Construction & Post-Construction Programs:

Construction and land development have a profound impact on water quality and therefore are a major focus of the federal Phase II Stormwater Regulations. Regulated municipalities are required to review plans for new development for conformance with NYS design standards intended to protect water quality, inspect construction sites for proper erosion and sediment control, and track and maintain stormwater management practices. Through a close partnership with the Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District (www.monroecountyswcd.org), the Coalition provides extensive construction-related services including training for municipal staff, boards, and the development community, plan reviews, site inspections, complaint response, facility inspections, and permit assistance, as well as demonstrations of green infrastructure and biotechnical streambank erosion control. The Coalition has also developed a number of templates and forms for use by the members and the development community.

Construction Resources & Documents:

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Pollution Prevention Programs:

Coalition members regulated under Phase II are also required to assess potential sources of pollution from municipal facilities and operations, identify and implement practices that will reduce or prevent pollution, and train employees. The Coalition provides assistance to the members with each of these requirements.

The Coalition has developed a municipal pollution prevention guidance manual and has provided training for the members on its use. The manual provides detailed information on how to plan a pollution prevention program, assessment methods for identifying pollution sources, and details about possible practices to reduce pollution.

Pollution Prevention Resources & Documents:

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Stormwater Coalition Joint Annual Report:

The Coalition's 2013-2014 Joint Annual Report for the period March 10, 2013 through March 9, 2014 includes compliance activities that were accomplished during the reporting period and performance measures to evaluate overall effectiveness of each minimum control measure. Reportable activities specific to each Coalition member may be obtained from the individual municipality. The public is encouraged to review these materials and provide comments to the Coalition staff or their respective member representative.

Annual Reports:

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Stormwater Management Program Plan:

The Coalition prepared a template Stormwater Management Program Plan (SWMPP) that describes and documents the programs that are being implemented by the Coalition to assist the members in their compliance with the Phase II requirements. The Coalition member municipalities use the template as the foundation for developing their individual SWMPPs as required under Phase II. The public is encouraged to review the Coalition’s SWMPP and submit comments to the Coalition staff. The individual municipal SWMPPs may be accessed by contacting the applicable member representative.

Program Plan & Supporting Documents:

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Stormwater Master Plan:

The Stormwater Coalition has initiated a stormwater master planning process to assess current water quality conditions, document regional flooding issues, identify and prioritize potential green infrastructure and retrofit projects, and project improvements in local water resources that would result from implementation of the projects. As resources become available, the Coalition has completed components of the plan. The initial planning efforts have focused on waterways that have been identified by New York state as impaired, as well as waterways where there is a strong community interest.

Master Plan Resources & Documents:

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Coalition Contact Information:

Contact information including names, affiliation, telephone numbers, and email addresses for each of the Coalition Members and the Coalition staff is included in the list below.

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