MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. It is a conveyance or system of conveyances that is:
- Designed or used to collect or convey stormwater
- Owned by a state, city, town, village, or other public entity that discharges to waters of the U.S.
- Not a combined sewer
- Not part of a publicly owned treatment works (sewage treatment plant) Regulated conveyance systems include roads with drains, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, storm drains, piping, channels, ditches, tunnels, and conduits.
MS4 program, commonly known as Stormwater Phase II, is a federally mandated program through the Clean Water Act which requires municipalities to take measures to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff through MS4s in urbanized areas to protect waterways.
Show All Answers
Your community funds the MS4 program locally through user fees. These fees are shown on your utility bill each month labeled as a Stormwater Fee. There is no state or federal funding for this mandate.
Rule 13 (327 IAC 15-13) was the approach by Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to meeting the guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Stormwater Phase II regulations. Rule 13 required about 170 communities and other urban entities in Indiana (including the City of Valparaiso) to obtain permits for stormwater discharges from MS4s and implement a stormwater management program that would reduce the amount of pollutants entering the waterway as a result of stormwater runoff. MS4 permits were granted in five year cycles at the end of which the permit must be renewed. The City of Valparaiso’s first permit was granted in 2003. The permit was renewed in 2008, 2013, and 2018.
Effective from December 18, 2021, Rule 13 was repealed and IDEM started to regulate the program under the Indiana MS4 General Permit (MS4GP).
As it flows, stormwater runoff collects and transports pollutants to surface waters. Although the amount of pollutants from a single residential, commercial, industrial or construction site may seem unimportant, the combined concentrations of contaminants threaten our lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other water bodies. Pollution conveyed by stormwater degrades the quality of drinking water, damages fisheries, and habitat of plants and animals that depend on clean water for survival. Pollutants carried by stormwater can also affect recreational uses of water bodies by making them unsafe for wading, swimming, boating and fishing.
Everyone can help reduce water pollution through stormwater runoff. Simple things such as washing our cars on a grassy area where the detergents will soak into the ground instead of running along the driveway and street into an inlet that will carry it all the way to a lake or stream can make a difference. Use the correct amount of fertilizer for your plants when needed so that the excess is not washed off, creating algae blooms in nearby lakes and ponds. Never pour anything down an inlet that you wouldn’t want in a stream or lake because that’s where it will go. Dispose of trash and yard waste in proper ways so that they do not get washed into our lakes and streams. There are many such activities that can make a difference and preserve our lakes and streams for future generations.