Federal Environmental Protection Agency/Georgia Environmental Protection Division:
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is a federal law, originally enacted by Congress and signed by the President in 1972, that established environmental programs to protect the Nation’s waters from pollutants and authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to develop, implement, and enforce regulations consistent with this law. Under the CWA, the US EPA has implemented pollution control programs and has set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.
Since the passage of the CWA, our Nation’s water quality has improved dramatically. Despite this progress, however, approximately 40% of surveyed U.S. water bodies are still impaired by pollution and do not meet water quality standards. A leading source of this impairment is polluted stormwater runoff. When unmanaged, this water pollution can result in: a loss in aesthetic value; the destruction of fish, wildlife, and aquatic habitats; and threats to public health due to contaminated food, drinking water supplies, and recreational waterways.
Section 402 of the CWA specifically required the US EPA to develop and implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program to address water quantity and quality problems in the U.S. The NPDES permit program is a comprehensive, two-phased national program for addressing the non-agricultural sources of pollution which negatively affects the quality of our nation’s water sources. Basically, the NPDES program requires a permit to be obtained before any discharge is allowed into a water body; unpermitted discharges are considered illegal. The NPDES program regulates discharges from three potential pollution sources: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities.
Under the Water Quality Act of 1987, Congress mandated Rockdale County, as well as other municipalities, to obtain an NPDES stormwater permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD), issuing authority, to discharge stormwater runoff from the County’s MS4. The NPDES stormwater permit requires the development and implementation of effective stormwater management programs (SWMPs), control measures and best management practices (BMPs) that effectively reduce or prevent the discharge of pollutants into local surface waters, such as streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The US EPA authorizes state governments to perform many of the permitting, administrative and enforcement aspects of the NPDES program.
Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District:
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (Metro Water District ) was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 2001 to establish policy, create plans and promote intergovernmental coordination of all water issues in the District from a regional perspective. The Metro Water District includes 15 counties and more than 90 cities within the metro Atlanta region, including Rockdale County. The primary purpose of the Metro Water District is to develop regional and watershed-specific plans for stormwater management, wastewater treatment and water supply conservation.
Rockdale County is authorized by the 1983 Georgia Constitution to provide stormwater management services, systems and facilities throughout the unincorporated areas of the County. These stormwater services and systems contribute to the protection and preservation of the public health, safety and welfare and protection of the natural resources of the County.
Rockdale County created a stormwater utility to satisfy federal and state regulations and to provide stormwater management services. The Rockdale County Stormwater Utility Section 310 Article V was effective as of October 1, 2005. Stormwater Utility funds are only utilized for stormwater management program needs including:
- Construction and Maintenance Projects
- Plan Review and Permitting
- Regulatory Compliance
- Investigate Potential Pollution Sources
- Education and Outreach
- Infrastructure Inspections
- Billing and Administration
In order to abide by regulations federal and state agencies have established, Rockdale County has adopted many ordinances to ensure proper stormwater management. Ordinance review and updates are continually evaluated to ensure Rockdale County remains up to date with the latest requirements.
Regulations that pertain to stormwater:
- Development Requirements: (Chapter 302)
- Erosion and Sediment Control: (Chapter 306)
- Illicit Discharge & Illegal Connection: (Chapter 310, Article II)
- Stream Buffer Protection: (Chapter 310, Article IV)
- Post Development Stormwater Management for New Development and Redevelopment: (Chapter 310, Article III)
- Floodplain Management/Flood Damage Prevention: (Chapter 320)
- Public Improvements – Drainage System: (Chapter 332, Article II)
- Protection of Wetlands: (Chapter 324, Sec. 324-2)
By federal and state mandate, Rockdale County is charged with the responsibility under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program to develop, implement and enforce an effective Stormwater Management Program designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) to Waters of the State in order to protect and improve water quantity and quality.
Stormwater infrastructure located within the County road rights-of-way and on County-owned properties is the responsibility of Rockdale County to manage and maintain. On the other hand, stormwater drainage and stream systems beyond County roads and County-owned properties are generally the responsibility of individual private property owners. Managing runoff is a shared responsibility between the County and private property owners countywide.
Rockdale County’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Section 310-134.a. allows the County to inspect, maintain and replace drainage systems within County-owned properties, rights-of-way and within platted drainage easements. (These areas are shown in the diagram below as being within the red-dashed lines.)
The County has no legal obligation to work within private property. Instead, areas of private property are the property owner’s responsibility. This is the case for most drainage pipes, ditches and ponds within private property. Likewise, drainage systems along or under a private road must also be maintained by the property owner.