Federal Programs

In the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act, Congress mandated development of a permit system for certain sources of storm water discharge, thus the EPA has established permit application requirements for industrial storm water discharges and municipal storm sewer system discharges. Pollutants entering storm water and surface water systems are now regulated as point sources under Section 402(p) and subject to the NPDES permit process.

The EPA also provides assistance and guidance to municipalities developing storm water management programs. Although there are several agencies with possible authority in this field, no federal agency has assumed general responsibility or control. Most actions taken to date have been local initiatives. Only the Soil Conservation Service has long-standing programs of storm water management.

However, many federal agencies are directly involved in flood hazard mitigation, flood control, and floodplain management. Although there is no federal agency directly mandated to plan and implement stormwater management programs, there are several agencies engaged in related activities.

The federal government exerts a broad influence via its many agencies. For example, in the Corps of Engineers' major structural flood control program, the federal agency consults with local agencies, but maintains field offices and staff for planning, construction, operation, and maintenance. In another approach, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) has a nationwide network of conservation districts. The districts perform some functions autonomously, while other functions are carried out by the federal staff. In flood-plain management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established fairly complete federal control, although actions affecting individuals are legally mandated by state laws and local ordinances. In this case, the financial incentives of the flood insurance program are the prime motivation for obtaining required state legislation and local ordinances.

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