About NPDES


 Resources

Background

Stormwater runoff picks up pollution as it travels over our developed landscapes and is a major source of water quality problems.  In 1987, the Federal Clean Water Act was amended to address stormwater problems.  As a result, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to address stormwater runoff.  States are then required to administer permits to local jurisdictions to regulate runoff as part of the NPDES Program.  The Permit is referred to as the "NPDES Phase II Permit" or "Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit".  

The Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit began in January 2007, and applied to small MS4s, which includes Whatcom County.  A small MS4 is a stormwater conveyance system that is:
            • Owned and operated by a public entity that discharge to waters of the U.S.;
            • Designed or used to collect or convey stormwater (including roads, drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, manmade channels, or storm drains);
            • Not a combined sewer; and
            • Not part of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW or "sewage treatment plant").
MS4s are allowed to discharge runoff into water bodies of the State (such as rivers, lakes, and streams) as long as they implement programs that protect water quality by reducing pollutants to the maximum extent possible (MEP) through requirements of the NPDES Phase II Permit.  Those requirements are reported and submitted to the Department of Ecology through the Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) and the Annual Compliance Report.

The Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit is required by the State of Washington Water Pollution Control Law Chapter 90.48 RCW, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Title 33 United States Code (Clean Water Act). The Permit administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology.


Whatcom County - NPDES Phase II Permit

Whatcom County has been under Permit requirements since 2007.  The 2013-2018 Permit is effective August 1, 2013.  Click here to view the permit.  

As part of the Permit, Whatcom County is required to develop a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the stormwater sewer system into waters of the State.  The SWMP document outlines activities, accomplishments, and future projects to comply with the requirements of the Permit.  It is intended to be a planning and implementation document for the public, elected officials, and the departments of Whatcom County.  Click here for current and past SWMP documents.

The submittal of an Annual Compliance Report is also required by the Permit.  The report consists of list of questions regarding each of the required tasks of the Permit.  This report can be found here.

Which areas does the Permit apply?

Effective until July 31, 2013, the NPDES Phase II Permit boundary includes the following areas:
  • Bellingham Urban Growth Area
  • Sudden Valley
  • Portions of the Hillsdale and Emerald Lake area
  • Portions along North Shore Drive on Lake Whatcom and Lake Whatcom Boulevard
  • Ferndale Urban Growth Area
  • Portions along Chuckanut Drive and Chuckanut Bay
  • All remaining areas of the Lake Whatcom watershed in regards to illicit discharges
Effective August 1, 2013, the NPDES Phase II Permit boundary includes:  
  • Bellingham Urban Growth Area
  • Sudden Valley
  • Portions of the Hillsdale and Emerald Lake area
  • Portions along North Shore Drive on Lake Whatcom and Lake Whatcom Boulevard
  • Ferndale Urban Growth Area
  • Birch Bay Urban Growth Area
  • Portions along Chuckanut Drive and Chuckanut Bay
  • All remaining areas of the Lake Whatcom watershed in regards to illicit discharges

Click here for the current boundary map, or call the following contacts for further information:

Whatcom County Planning & Development Services: (360) 676-6907 - NPDES Phase II inquiries regarding development.

Whatcom County Public Works Stormwater Division: (360) 715-7450 - other general NPDES Phase II inquiries.