The DEQ Storm Water Update


February 2018

  • Industrial Storm Water 101
  • Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control - Rule Change
  • Municipal Storm Water Control - Financing Update
  • New MS4 Progress Report Forms Available in MiWaters
  • Going Green
  • Your Help Needed - Seeking Green Infrastructure Practitioners to Inform a Community Toolkit

Welcome to the first edition of the Storm Water Update, a news and information source for storm water programs in Michigan. This publication focuses on how rain and snowmelt has the potential to be regulated by one or more of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) storm water programs: Industrial, Construction, and Municipal. News and information will be provided specific to these programs as well as examples of effective storm water management approaches. 

The DEQ has combined the previous lists specific to each of the DEQ’s storm water programs as a way of encouraging a comprehensive view of storm water management. To learn more about Michigan’s storm water programs please visit the DEQ Storm Water Webpage at

Industrial Storm Water 101

What is industrial storm water and why is it regulated?


Industrial storm water is runoff from rainfall or snowmelt that comes in contact with exposed industrial activities. The runoff can pick up pollutants, transporting them directly or through a storm sewer to a nearby stream, wetland, river, or lake degrading water quality. Exposed industrial activities may include material handling, processing and storage, equipment maintenance and cleaning, and other sources of pollutants at industrial facilities.

Storm water runoff has been recognized as a significant source of water pollution. One of the water quality regulatory programs intended to address water pollution issues is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial Storm Water (ISW) permit program.


The NPDES ISW permit program is a federal program that has been the responsibility of the DEQ, Water Resources Division (WRD) since the mid-1990s. The ISW permit program requires certain industrial facility groups to obtain permit coverage when industrial activities are exposed to storm water and discharge to the waters of the state. Unlike treated wastewater discharges, storm water from an industrial facility is typically discharged directly to surface waters of the state untreated.

The intent of the ISW permit program is to require facilities to implement storm water pollution prevention measures with the goal to reduce pollution entering Michigan’s waters via storm water runoff.

More information related to Michigan’s ISW permit program can be found on the ISW program Webpage

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control - Rule Change

The State of Michigan recently changed a rule under its Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control (SESC) regulations (Part 91) to make it possible for a person conducting a transportation related project, authorized by a state or governmental agency within its jurisdiction or easement, to obtain a soil erosion permit in cases where the state or governmental agency does not control the project. Formerly, if a person was doing a transportation related project, authorized by a state or local government agency and within the jurisdiction of that agency, then the agency would have to obtain the soil erosion permit.  Under the revised rule, the person doing the project can apply for the permit.  The revision required a redefining of the term “landowner.”

The revision was made to Rule 323.1701 – Definitions, paragraph (e) also known as Part 17, Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control.

For further information or questions, please contact Cheryl Petroski-Wilson, SESC/Construction Storm Water Program Specialist, Email

Municipal Storm Water Control - Financing Update


In November 2016, the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report was released outlining the challenges and opportunities facing Michigan’s infrastructure systems.  The report offered recommendations for action, including a menu of short-term needs and long-term goals. The following examples highlight progress toward implementing storm water-specific recommendations in the report. 

Municipalities are increasingly facing the challenge of managing storm water runoff to prevent pollution problems and protect the water quality in creeks, rivers, and lakes.  In 2016, legislation was introduced in Michigan authorizing the development of municipal storm water utilities.  The legislation would afford municipalities the option of developing a revenue structure to sustainably fund storm water management. Responding to the national conversation on funding storm water management, the Environmental Protection Agency recently launched a Water Finance Clearinghouse.  The clearinghouse provides municipalities with additional resources and information on sustainably funding the operation and maintenance of storm water infrastructure.    

The report also included a recommendation to establish a regional infrastructure pilot.  In 2017, the regional planning areas of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties) and Grand Valley Metropolitan Council were selected for the pilot.  The pilots focus on the development of a statewide asset management structure and database system.  For the storm water infrastructure component, the pilots complement the effort by municipalities who have completed or are in the process of completing an inventory and assessment of storm water assets.  The outcomes from this type of inventory and assessment can be also used to guide the development of a sustainable funding mechanism for storm water management. 

For further information or questions, please contact: Christe Alwin, MS4 Program Specialist, Email:

New MS4 Progress Report Forms Available in MiWaters

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permittees are required to submit progress reports as part of their permit coverage.  The progress report serves to document and summarize implementation of the MS4 permittee’s Storm Water Management Program during the reporting period and describe planned activities for the next reporting period.  The reporting period is generally two years. 

New progress report forms have been developed in MiWaters, the DEQ, WRD, Web-based permitting and compliance database.  A progress report form is available specific to the type of MS4 permit (general permit or individual permit).  The MS4 permittees with a progress report due July 1, 2018, or later must submit the progress report using the appropriate MiWaters form.  The MS4 permittees can access the appropriate progress report form in MiWaters starting 90 days prior to the required submittal date.  A tutorial on accessing and submitting the progress report in MiWaters is available on the DEQ Storm Water Webpage

For more information on using the forms, please contact the appropriate MS4 Program staff person using the staff map available on the MS4 Webpage.     

Going Green

  Street swales capture and treat storm water. Source: Credit Valley Conservation

Street swales capture and treat storm water. Source: Credit Valley Conservation

“Going green.”  In one form or another, this concept is taking hold just about everywhere. Some people love going green, others oppose it. Regardless whether you are for or against it, here is how and why storm water control is going green.

In the last few years, the term “green infrastructure” has become common in the storm water field. In this case, “green” is used quite literally because greenery (plants) usually play a key role in the infrastructure’s composition. Plants can be used to effectively manage and treat storm water.

Historically, engineers have relied on hard materials such as concrete, steel, and stone to channel storm water to safe and out-of-the-way places. These hard, engineered materials are increasingly referred to as “grey infrastructure” by those who want to distinguish them from the green type.

Why is green infrastructure being considered?  Before the land was modified by humans, storm water was handled by nature, without pipes and other grey infrastructure. The natural system, made up of forests, meadows, and wetlands, worked very well. Storm water that ran off the land or soaked into the ground arrived at our lakes and streams cool and clear. All was good. This cool clear water became the lakes and streams. Today’s grey infrastructure -- roads, parking lots, rooftops, and sidewalks – cannot deliver runoff that is cool and clear like the natural systems did.

We can’t get rid of all hard surfaces, but we are learning how to handle the storm water from (or on) those hard surfaces in natural ways by using green infrastructure. Common green infrastructure practices that use plants include rain gardens (porous soils planted with deep-rooted vegetation), vegetated swales, green roofs, and planter boxes.


Non-vegetated methods can also be used to mimic nature, such as permeable pavements and rainwater storage cisterns that allow for storm water reuse. Another very good green infrastructure method is to design sites with reduced impervious surfaces, or locate impervious surfaces in areas that are not the best for infiltrating storm water into the soil; then take advantage of the areas of good infiltration and the natural runoff flow patterns already on the site for managing storm water runoff. This natural-design approach can save money and be very effective.

Green infrastructure not only helps runoff water get to our lakes and rivers cool and clean, it also reduces the volume of water that our streams and rivers must carry. The benefits of reducing runoff volume include reduced streambank erosion and less transport of sediment downstream. Fewer pollutants to our streams and rivers, as well as moderated stream flows to reduce sediment movement in the stream, means cleaner water flowing into and sustaining our Great Lakes.  

For more information about green infrastructure, explore the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Infrastructure Wizard at:

Your Help Needed - Seeking Green Infrastructure Practitioners to Inform a Community Toolkit

Effective storm water management is a challenge that communities across Michigan are seeking innovative ways to address. By complementing natural processes, green infrastructure can decrease flood damage, reduce nonpoint-source pollution, and create urban green spaces.

A project supported by the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and Sea Grant is developing a toolkit for storm water management to create positive impact for people, the planet, and the economy. The project is led by Lawrence Technological University with support from Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc. (ECT) and the University of Michigan.  

To develop the toolkit, researchers are seeking green infrastructure and storm water practitioners across the state to take a brief survey.

< Click to take the survey >

Email questions or comments on the study to research team member Avik Basu at Learn more about water sustainability by emailing Michelle Selzer at in the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.


Rachel Frantzstormwater