This post is the third in a series regarding the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permitfor the San Diego region.
In this third and final entry in our series on the San Diego Regional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, we will cover how you, the public, can get involved after the MS4 permit is adopted. In previous posts, you have gotten a quick introduction to the permitting process and how you can help develop the permit. It is important to know, however, that you can continue to shape the way this MS4 permit works after the Regional Water Quality Control Board adopts it.
The way the current draft is written, the organizations that enroll under it (the ones running big storm drain systems) have to develop Water Quality Improvement Plans within the first year of enrollment. These plans identify water quality “priorities,” how the priorities will be addressed, and timelines to improvement. The important part is that these plans are subjectto a 30- or 60-day public review and comment period just like the MS4 permit itself. This is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT part of the permit because the priorities are where the cities and counties will be focusing most of their time and resources, while other water quality problems have to wait. You need to be a part of this process to ensure that your voice is heard about water quality problems in your community.
Another important way to get involved is to report violations of the permit when you see them in your neighborhood. It is important that you know what part of the permit is being violated though, so when you call the municipalities hotline, they know they are getting usable information. This is why participation in the permitting process is so important (as we outlined in the previous entries), so that you have a working understanding of the permit. That way, when someone is emptying their pool right into the street, and subsequently down a storm drain, you know whether that is prohibited. (As a note: it might be prohibited, but it depends.)
If you don’t feel comfortable with working alone, or just prefer working with some more direction, you can also partner with us in water quality monitoring events. In the permit the cities and counties have to work to identify the sources of previously unidentified pollution. We are currently talking with municipalities to find ways to provide them our monitoring information and reduce their costs. If this cooperative program is green-lighted, you could work to directly hold polluters responsible for their actions and make San Diego’s waters that much cleaner.
If you haven’t already signed up for email updates about water quality issues in the San Diego region, do so here.