MS4 Program & Pollution in Stormwater Runoff

Pollution in Stormwater RunoffThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that stormwater runoff is the only source of water pollution in the nation that is continuing to increase. When it rains, stormwater collects many types of materials that flow directly into area lakes and streams. Stormwater is only minimally treated and sometimes not treated at all before it reaches our waterways. Oils, chemicals, fertilizers, litter and waste in stormwater can cause major problems in waterways. Research has shown that stormwater pollution negatively impacts water quality, drinking water supplies, recreation, fish and other wildlife.

Stormwater pollution results from a wide variety of human activities. Each of us can contribute to the problem without even realizing it.

Chesapeake has a regulated municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), which is the technical name for the network of ditches, pipes, lakes, and other structures which convey and treat stormwater. The City is required to comply with federal and state regulations and is mandated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to follow its Virginia Stormwater Management Program MS4 Permit (issued in 2016) (PDF), which details requirements for stormwater discharges and programs. View the City's MS4 Program Plan and the MS4 Annual Reports:

You can help reduce pollution by keeping potential pollutants away from storm drains. Never throw or dump anything down a storm drain. Not only can this contaminate local waterways, but it can also contribute to flooding by blocking drains, inlets and ditches. Potential stormwater pollutants include:

  • Fertilizers
  • Pesticides
  • Oil
  • Grass clippings and yard debris
  • Paint
  • Pet waste
  • Soaps
  • Trash
  • Other common materials

Remember, "Only rain down the storm drain!" Visit the Stormwater Education webpages to learn more about stormwater pollution and how you can prevent it.

Cleaning up Chesapeake's Waterways - TMDL Action Plans

Chesapeake Bay

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or "pollution diet" for the Chesapeake Bay. Portions of 6 states and the District of Columbia are located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The TMDL required these Bay jurisdictions to develop strategies to make reductions in discharges of phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment in order to improve water quality in the Bay. As part of this process, the Virginia DEQ required each MS4 locality to develop a TMDL Action Plan to reduce pollutants in urban stormwater runoff. In accordance with Part D.1. of the City's MS4 Permit the City of Chesapeake prepared and submitted a Chesapeake Bay TMDL Action Plan to the Virginia DEQ. The City's Action Plan is available at the following link:

Chesapeake Bay TMDL Action Plan (PDF)

Local TMDLs

In addition to the Chesapeake Bay, other waterways in the City are impaired for bacteria and dissolved oxygen. In accordance with Part D.2. of the City's MS4 Permit Local TMDL Action Plans were required to be developed. The City's Local TMDL Action Plans are available at the following links:

Further Information

For further information on the TMDL development process in Virginia and full TMDL reports, please visit the Department of Environmental Quality's TMDL webpage.

For further information on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL please visit the EPA TMDL webpage.