Ramsey County Illicit Discharge and Connection Storm Water Ordinance
On March 13, 2012, the Ramsey County Board adopted an Ordinance regulating illicit discharges and connections to the County storm sewer system. Adoption of an illicit discharge ordinance was required to comply with the County MS4 Permit. The stated objectives of the Ordinance include:
To regulate the contribution of pollutants to the MS4 by storm water discharges by any user.
To prohibit illicit connections and discharges to the MS4.
To establish legal authority to carry out all inspection, surveillance, monitoring, and enforcement procedures necessary to ensure compliance with this ordinance.
Failure to comply with the County’s requirements following discovery of an illicit discharge or connection may be punishable by restriction of access to the County MS4 and a misdemeanor fine. A copy of the new Ordinance may be found here.
WHAT IS AN ILLICIT DISCHARGE?
- An illicit discharge is the discharge of pollutants or non-storm water materials into a storm sewer system via overland flow, direct dumping, or illicit connections. Illicit connections are pipes or other direct connections that illegally or unknowingly release pollutants or non-storm water materials into a storm sewer system or directly into a body of water.
EXAMPLES OF ILLICIT DISCHARGES:
- Sanitary, laundry, carwash, and industrial wastewater
- Septic tank effluent
- Roadway accident spills
- Inappropriate disposal of yard and pet wastes
- Improper disposal of vehicle and toxic wastes including motor oil and pesticides
WHY IS AN ILLICIT DISCHARGE A PROBLEM?
- The Ramsey County Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) is designed to convey storm water runoff to nearby bodies of water. The runoff does not go through any treatment before it empties into a receiving water. Dumping anything other than storm water into a storm drain allows pollutants to enter lakes and streams causing public health concerns, harm to wildlife, and unpleasant odors or color.
HOW CAN YOU DETECT AN ILLICIT DISCHARGE?
Things to look for:
- Suspicious dumping of liquids animal waste, grass clippings, leaves, or any other item into a storm drain.
- Makeshift pipes or hoses that lead to a storm drain or directly to a body of water.
- Unusual or suspicious discharge in a catch basin or waterway.
- Wastewater on the ground surface.
- Leaky septic systems.
- Stains, unusual odors, or structural damage to streets or gutters.
- Dead or distressed fish, plants, or other wildlife.
- Abnormal vegetative growth in nearby lakes and streams.
- Excess sedimentation in water bodies.
HOW DO YOU REPORT AN ILLICIT DISCHARGE?
HOW CAN YOU REDUCE POLLUTED STORM WATER RUNOFF?
- Never dump anything into a storm sewer or storm drain.
- Take used oil to your local waste oil recycling site.
- Dispose of household hazardous wastes properly.
- Bring yard waste to your local compost site.
- Discard pet waste in a garbage can.
- Wash your car on your lawn allowing excess water, chemicals, and dirt to be filtered through grass and vegetation.
- Dechlorinated pool water before draining.
WHAT DISCHARGES TO THE STORM DRAINS ARE NOT CONSIDERED ILLICIT?
Water discharges including water line flushing, air conditioning condensation, irrigation water, water from crawl space pumps, lawn watering, individual residential car washing, dechlorinated swimming pool discharges, and street wash water.
Discharges or flow from firefighting and other discharges that are necessary to protect public health and safety.
Discharges associated with dye testing.
Any storm-water discharge permitted under an NPDES permit.
WHAT IS RAMSEY COUNTY DOING TO STOP ILLICIT DISCHARGES?
- The focus of the Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) Plan is to detect and address non-storm water discharges, illegal dumping, and illicit connections to the County storm sewer system.
- Public Works Maintenance staff are trained to identify any illicit discharges observed during their normal daily duties.
- 20% of Ramsey County's storm sewer outfalls are inspected for damage and illicit discharges annually.