The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II program, managed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), was created to address nonpoint pollution sources (NPS) - pollutants being introduced into waterways through storm water runoff. It was implemented after the NPDES Phase I program, which focused on permitting end-of-pipe discharges to waterways, indicated that water quality standards could not be achieved without addressing NPS in urbanized areas. Hamilton County, Ohio townships and municipalities in urbanized areas are subject to a requirements in a statewide NPDES Phase II permit issued to Ohio EPA by the USEPA.
In 2003, the Hamilton County Stormwater District (HCSWD) formed a co-permittee district comprised of Hamilton County townships and municipalities subject to the NPDES Phase II permit requirements. All affected municipalities were invited to join – seven did not, including Cheviot, Forest Park, Harrison, Loveland, Milford, Reading, and Springdale. More recently, a few of the co-permittees have elected to leave the District - Cleves, North College Hill, Norwood, St. Bernard, Woodlawn, and Wyoming. The City of Cincinnati has also notified the District that they will discontinue their membership. Those who leave the District are no longer eligible to receive District-provided benefits, and must provide the services necessary for the permit requirements for themselves.
The District, which is funded by a fee based on impervious surfaces using a single family unit (SFU) model, provides compliance assistance with the following six minimum control measures (MCM) identified in the Phase II program:
- MCM1 – Public Education and Outreach
- MCM2 – Public Involvement and Participation
- MCM3 – Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- MCM4 – Construction Site Runoff Control
- MCM5 – Post Construction Storm Water Management
- MCM6 – Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
HCSWD currently charges $3.68 annually per SFU /Single Family Unit (SFU) for base services which cover MCM 1, MCM2, and MCM6 requirements plus annual report, budget and billing file development, and administrative/technical support. Co-permittee members can elect to pay for additional services under MCM3, MCM4 and MCM5 with a maximum fee per SFU of $8.13 for all services. Co-permittees are responsible for meeting permit requirements for any of these services that they do not select. These are among the lowest annual fees for any municipal or co-permittee district in the state.
The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is a district partner agency and provides a majority of the base services including:
- MCM1 Services (which must reach 50% of the district population):
- Classroom presentations,
- Community presentations,
- Interactive displays at individual community fairs and events,
- Library and scout programs,
- Multimedia ads on radio, and television, and
- Social media.
- MCM2 Services:
- Soil fertility testing at a $5.00 discount per testing kit,
- Supplies for watershed signage,
- Fact sheets and guidance on installing best management practices such as rain gardens,
- Rain barrel art program,
- Stream clean ups,
- Participation in the Great Miami Water Quality Lab, and
- Storm drain labeling.
- Just 25 classroom programs slots will be held for non-member storm water jurisdictions beginning in August 2017 (to reflect the 25% of classroom funding received from the General Fund),
Beginning October 1, 2016:
- Non-member jurisdictions will pay the full price ($12.00) for each soil fertility test kit, as opposed to member jurisdictions - $5.00.
- Community education displays will only be provided to storm water district members, and
- Any other services such as storm drain labeling and watershed signage will be provided at the cost of the materials.