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The NPDES permit program was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1973 as a result of the Clean Water Act passed by Congress. Stormwater runoff is regulated under this program and the program responsibility was delegated to the states. The City of Fort Walton Beach has held the NPDES ms4 permit for approximately 6 years under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The permit outlines a customized stormwater management plan to be followed by each municipality holding a permit. There are 6 minimum control measures and certain best management practices (BMP’s) to be implemented within each minimum control measure. These include Public Education and Outreach, Public Participation and Involvement, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Runoff Control, and Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping.
The City of Fort Walton Beach is an ms4 (municipal separate storm sewer system). Like other municipalities around the country, this means that stormwater is collected by a system of conveyances such as ditches, curbs, catch basins, and underground pipes and drains to waters of the State- Choctawhatchee Bay, Santa Rosa Sound, and tributaries. When the original drainage system for the City was laid, polluted runoff was not nearly as much of a concern as flooding. Now, there are far more cars and chemicals being used which produce oil leaks, other car fluid leaks, brake dust, fertilizers, pesticides, cigarette butts, and other pollutants that drain with stormwater to our local waterways. The permit program regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is designed to reduce the contamination of stormwater runoff and prohibit illicit discharges to the ms4. Contaminated runoff can impact our local waterways in many ways and even contribute to surface water quality decline. Water quality is important to maintaining the uses and values we associate with our water bodies including recreational and commercial fishing, swimming, boating, and other activities.
The City educates the public through the distribution of educational articles and includes stormwater management discussions on “City Desk” a televised community awareness program. The City has also implemented many other programs and activities to achieve the goals of the stormwater management plan such as the Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) program, which helps to maintain the local Drainage Basins (PDF). Check out the links to BMP’s and nonpoint source pollution on the stormwater home page for more information on stormwater management. Also, look for upcoming workshops and flyers being distributed about stormwater runoff!