History of Stormwater Regulation
* Stormwater pollution has been regulated for decades.
- In 1977, VNRC successfully appealed a stormwater discharge permit for Pyramid Mall in Williston.
- Standards for treatment date back to policies adopted by ANR in 1981;
- Treatment standards have improved as the understanding of the science has improved; currently, ANR acknowledges that the 2002 standards represent "the best," "most comprehensive" practices for treating stormwater pollution.
* In 1995, with resources dwindling at the Agency of Natural Resources, an administrative decision was made to all but abandon Vermont’s stormwater permitting program.
- The stormwater program was left with the equivalent of 1/10 of a full time employee to issue and renew stormwater permits.
- Stormwater permits began to expire, culminating in over 1,000 expired permits by 2000.
- No one actually knows the exact number of expired permits, including ANR.
- Permit holders unsuccessfully attempting to renew permits are protected—if ANR chooses not to act on a renewal request, permits are considered "administratively continued."
* The stormwater pollution statutes were revised in 2000.
- Required the Agency of Natural Resources to come up with a better state-wide plan for treating stormwater pollution.
- When drafting a plan for stormwater pollution, required that "Any permit issued for existing discharges… shall include a schedule of compliance of no longer than five years reasonably designed to assure attainment of the water quality standards in the receiving waters."
- Authorized ANR to issue individual or general permits in impaired waters, an option that ANR could exercise at any time, regardless of recent decisions by the Water Resources Board.
* The stormwater pollution statutes were revised again in 2002.
- Reaffirmed the 5 year compliance schedule for impaired waters;
- Allowed ANR the option of issuing Watershed Improvement Permits, or WIPs.
- WIPs are based on treatment practices rather than in-stream water quality assessments that are based on water quality standards.
- As a safety net for relying solely on management practices, WIPs can only be used if a five year schedule of compliance is included in the permit.