By John Burton
A group of nine environmental organizations from around the state, including the American Littoral Society and Clean Ocean Action, has sent a petition to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), seeking more stringent requirements regulating storm-water runoff.
The group is asking the DEP to update its permitting process governing storm-water runoff from municipal storm sewers, highways and development sites. Group members would like to see a greater emphasis on “green infrastructure” provisions, such as rain gardens, roadside plantings and permeable pavements, before the contamination-filled water makes its way into rivers, streams, lakes and coastal waters, according to the petition.
The environmental organizations said as melting snow and rain wash across the land, it carries with it oil, grease, pet waste, fertilizer, pesticides, trash, bacteria and other pollutants that make their way in to the waterways.
The group points out that under the Clean Water Act, storm water permits are to be renewed every five years as a way to encourage the adopting of new technology and best practices. Those permits, issued on March 1, 2009, will expire on Feb. 28. Other states have made changes requiring the measures that the group is seeking. As it currently stands, storm-water runoff constitutes the largest source of water pollution in the state.
“This is an opportunity to protect the environment and the economy that relies on clean water,” Helen Henderson of the American Littoral Society said in a released statement.