The City of Berkeley Lake is a Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permittee under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES Phase I Permit requires certain actions on the part of the city, including adoption and implementation of a stormwater management plan (SWMP) and preparation of an annual report for review and approval by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
Historically, Berkeley Lake was a co-permittee with Gwinnett County. The county provided stormwater management services to the Gwinnett cities, and, for the purposes of NPDES compliance, Gwinnett cities were covered under the Gwinnett County SWMP. While we had to prepare annual reports each year, most report areas were covered by Gwinnett County services and activities.
Implementing a Stormwater Utility Fee
When Gwinnett County decided to implement a stormwater utility fee, the county gave Gwinnett cities the choice of joining the utility and remaining co-permittees, or not joining and breaking the co-permittee relationship as well as not receiving any services from the county utility.
The Gwinnett Municipal Association (GwMA) selected an independent consultant to evaluate each city’s stormwater program so that each city could make an informed decision about whether to participate with Gwinnett County or take on primary responsibility for NPDES compliance. All but one of the Gwinnett cities chose not to participate in the county stormwater utility.
The contracted consultant then drafted SWMPs for each of the participating cities for submission to EPD. On August 4, 2008, the City of Berkeley Lake received a letter from EPD indicating that the SWMP document was acceptable. The SWMP was a prerequisite for obtaining an independent NPDES permit.
Another prerequisite for receiving an independent NPDES Permit was compliance with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s Long-Term Wastewater Management Plan, Water Supply and Water Conservation Plan, and the district-wide Watershed Management Plan.
On September 29, 2008, EPD conducted a “District” audit of the city to determine compliance with the above referenced district plans. The audit resulted in several recommendations which were conveyed to the city in a November 25, 2008 letter. In addition, the letter acknowledged that the city was making a good faith effort to comply with district plans, which was sufficient for issuance of the NPDES permit.
In 2009, the city implemented audit recommendations, which pertained primarily to ordinance amendments, in order to meet the schedule established by city staff and EPD for district compliance.
The city received a letter dated June 12, 2009 issuing the city’s MS4 NPDES Permit No: GAS000138. The permit is effective until June 11, 2014. The permit was re-authorized on June 8, 2014 for another five years. As required under the permit, the city submitted an updated Stormwater Management Plan and is continuing to provide annual MS4 reports to EPD. Annual reports covering the reporting period from May to April 30 are due by June 15 each year. The city contracts with consultants on an annual basis to prepare and submit the MS4 Annual Report.