Stormwater Emerging Contaminants and Emerging Needs: What We Know and What We Can Do Currently

The Stormwater Management sector continues to develop and grow. With the passage of the 1987 Clean Water Act amendments, urban and suburban stormwater began to be addressed. While the legal and regulatory basis of stormwater has been around for 36 years, Phase I communities began to be permitted in 1990 and Phase II communities in 1999. The MS4 sector is far behind in experience when compared to our more mature drinking water and wastewater brethren. Many believe the stormwater sector is actually in our “teenage years” given the phased rollout of MS4 permits.


As stormwater management programs and other water quality programs like Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) continue to mature, we have learned that we as a sector need to employ adaptive management strategies to not only address regulations but to also begin to address additional pollutants beyond sediment and nutrients. While Virginia’s innovative approach to using Phosphorus as a keystone pollutant has proven useful, the regulatory bureaucracy has been slow to address emerging contaminants that impact our natural resources. The result is not only negative impacts to both the environment and human health, but the costs of running a successful MS4 permit program significantly increases. For example, stormwater ponds have been shown to be sinks for a wide variety of contaminants that require special treatment and disposal of dredged/excavated sediments. The expenses associated with BMP operation and maintenance (O&M) magnify and typically fall on entities (MS4 permittees, residential homeowner associations, etc.) who are ill-prepared to handle these challenges.


This presentation will provide an overview of a variety of emerging pollutants of concern, discuss the impacts to our communities and aquatic resources, and offer recommendations on what could and should be done now to get ahead of the curve before new regulations develop.