Welcome to CornerPost

Welcome to Cornerstone's blog, which is devoted to providing useful information to our clients and industry professionals.

Our talented staff of bloggers will offer brief, thoughtful pieces on the topics facing our industry today.

CornerPost will feature tips and tools, lessons learned, observations about major conferences, and much more.

We welcome comments and suggestions for topics you would like to read about.

Visit our website:
Cornerstone Environmental Group

Stay Connected

7 March 2018

Storm water permitting and design – what’s new and notable with state and federal regulations in the Midwest?

Storm water permitting at landfill facilities is guided by a combination of industrial and construction storm water management practices under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) provisions of the Clean Water Act. This post will look at regulation changes in several Midwestern states to determine if changes are likely to result in practical differences in landfill storm water management operations.

First some background on storm water at landfills

Landfills are covered by federal industrial storm water discharge regulations and subject to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). These regs require quarterly visual assessment of discharges for such key visual indicators as color, odor, clarity, floating solids, settled solids, suspended solids, foam, oil sheen, and other qualitative markers of pollution.

Runoff from landfills also has to be sampled to see if it complies with parameters like biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), ammonia, alpha terpineol, benzoic acid, p-cresol, phenol, total recoverable zinc, and pH.

What is covered by storm water regulations?

Storm water regulations apply to typical landfill operations, but they also cover other areas, including composting operations and drop off areas. Areas set aside for fueling and parking are subject to the rules, as are any stockpiles and storage areas. Special areas like maintenance facilities, oil collection/recycling, and compaction areas must also comply. However, flows from office and administrative areas are not subject to the rules – if they can be segregated from these other flows requiring permitting.

Potential contaminants from these operations include cover materials, leachate, and gas collection condensate. Disturbed soil from landfill cell construction and closure may also generate contaminants as can dust associated with landfill traffic or erosion from maintenance of side slopes. Other potential contaminants include contaminated groundwater, wastewater from recovery wells, sanitary wastewater, drained free liquids, contact wash water from trucks and equipment, and truck fuels and oils.

Following best practices

The regulations require that operators follow best management practices (BMPs) for storm water management to avoid possible contamination. Here’s a list of key BMPs:

  • Soil erosion and sediment control
  • Soil stabilization
  • Run-off control
  • Sediment controls
  • Storm water management
  • Drainage control
  • Diversion berms
  • Detention basins
  • Protection for special areas like shorelines, slopes, stream banks, water bodies, and wetlands
  • Control systems for the active portion of landfills

Other BMPs include vehicle maintenance, container storage practices, spill prevention, training, and mitigating bare vegetation areas. Operators should also conduct frequent visual inspections and practice good housekeeping by picking up waste and debris.

Handy guide to key Midwestern state requirements and potential changes


Quarterly visual inspection and benchmark monitoring are required, with the following exceptions:

  • Inactive landfills – a waiver of the requirement may be filed for “a facility that is inactive and unstaffed, provided there are no industrial materials or activities exposed to storm water.”
  • Representative outfalls – if two or more outfalls discharge identical effluents, visual inspection and benchmarking may occur at one discharge area and be reported for all.


  • NPDES General Permit No. 1 for Industrial Activity has effective dates of March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2023.
  • No substantial changes proposed, other than designation of corporate officer and non-significant definition of hazardous substance.


  • The initial Storm Water Annual Report, and Storm Water Discharge Monitoring Report are due on the anniversary of the submission of the Notice of Intent (NOI).
  • Subsequent annual report submittals are required in years two through five. Within the first permit year the facility has 365 days from the time it submitted a timely NOI to complete and submit the storm water SWP3 Certification Checklist.
  •  The facility is also required to complete Quarterly Visual Inspections and must keep the results on-site and available for review by an IDEM inspector.


New permit effective November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2021. Changes include:

  • No Exposure Certification must be submitted annually on a No Exposure Recertification Form (previous requirement was submittal every 5 years)
  • Group application to EPA is not allowed (this is the same as the prior permit)
  • Benchmark exceedances must be followed by a corrective action assessment.


  • Process is designated for facilities that have never obtained a storm water permit
  • May voluntarily enter Consent Order for Unpermitted Discharges No. ACO-UD12-100
  • Requirements include completion of NOI and Certificate of Entry application form
  • Confirm no unauthorized discharges


  • For active landfills, inspection must include areas of the landfill not stabilized, active land application areas and material/waste storage areas, leachate systems, and truck egress areas.
  • For inactive landfills, inspection must include stabilization and structural erosion control measures, leachate collection/treatment systems, and all closed land application areas.
  • Preventative maintenance program required for chemical/materials storage areas, leachate systems to prevent commingling with storm water, integrity of cover, prevention of spills and leaks, and management of runoff.


  • No specific guidance on developing Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans for Industrial Activities
  • Landfill operations are regulated under General Industrial Storm Water Permits. 
  • All regulated facilities and/or projects are required to obtain the general industrial permit prior to beginning the regulated activity.


  • WPDES Permit from June 2016 applies to point source discharges of storm water runoff into waters of the state; goal is to reduce contaminants in storm water.
  • All new landfills and landfill expansions must be designed to meet state runoff standards (NR 151), and must apply for permit coverage with submittal of the operation plan.
  • Existing active landfills must apply for permit, although storm water management features are not required to be altered to meet performance standards.
  • Exclusions apply to inactive closed or capped landfills that have no potential for contamination by storm water.

When to update your Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan

Review and update your plan whenever the inspections or monitoring you conduct indicate that additional protection is warranted, or if site changes result in significant increases of potential contaminants. You will also have to update the plan if a regulatory agency requests it or if new conditions are required for a reissued permit.

Are you aware of other important changes to storm water management in your state?

Daniel L. Morgan, PE has worked for Tetra Tech for 28 years and is a registered professional engineer in seven Midwestern states. His primary areas of interest are remedial design, construction, operation, and maintenance of soil and groundwater cleanup systems. He has written storm water management, storm water pollution prevention, and spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plans for petroleum storage, industrial, and landfill facilities, including permit applications for the USACE and state regulators.

Categories: Environmental Planning & Compliance, Landfill Engineering and Design, Operations and Maintenance, Solid Waste
Posted By Dan Morgan, PE at 12:26 PM  |  1 Comment on Storm water permitting and design – what’s new and notable with state and federal regulations in the Midwest?

One Response to “Storm water permitting and design – what’s new and notable with state and federal regulations in the Midwest?”

  1. help me says:

    b1g6jX Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>