Both land use and land cover play significant roles in directly affecting, both positively and negatively, the quality of rivers and streams within local watersheds. Historic landscapes in Southeast Michigan all provide various functions and values that benefit water resources. Wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, prairies, and riparian corridors all play integral parts in the overall water cycle. They each help in their unique way to filter and reduce stormwater runoff entering local streams. As development has progressed across Southeast Michigan, the quantity of impervious cover and associated urban areas increased while these historic landscapes have decreased.

SEMCOG is dedicated to preserving and restoring water quality in Southeast Michigan. To that end, SEMCOG offers members a variety of stormwater management services related to low impact development techniques, Phase II permit requirements, and reviewing larger stormwater management plans.

Phase II Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has issued the Phase II Storm Water Rule, which requires municipalities and other public bodies that operate a separate stormwater drainage system within a U.S. Census-defined Urbanized Boundary (pdf, 246KB) to obtain a stormwater permit.

This permit program, updated in 2008, affects over 120 communities in Southeast Michigan and is administered by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. SEMCOG engages watershed planning groups, MDEQ, and numerous communities in coordinating efforts and creating tools to assist municipalities in meeting Phase II requirements.

SEMCOG provides various levels of assistance with the Phase II program and are further described in the permit categories listed below.

Audit Assistance

SEMCOG is available to assist members individually regarding the Phase II permit. This could include:

  • Being present during a MDEQ audit
  • Providing a walk-through of your facilities prior to a MDEQ audit
  • Reviewing permit-related materials prior to submittal to the MDEQ
  • Reviewing post-construction standards and applicability to community programs
  • Meeting to explain permit requirements and determine how SEMCOG can best assist you

Pollution Prevention & Good Housekeeping

The MDEQ 2008 MS4 permit program includes requirements for municipal facilities (i.e. parks, public works facilities, storage yards, etc.), fleet maintenance, and inventory and maintenance of permittee-owned stormwater infrastructure.

Municipal pollution prevention and good housekeeping resources include training sessions in addition to various fact sheets, posters, and checklists for assistance.

Post Construction Stormwater Runoff

SEMCOG staff can review stormwater ordinances or other regulatory community documents for consistency with the post-construction stormwater runoff requirements.

The MDEQ 2008 MS4 permit program includes requirements for managing stormwater runoff from both new developments and redevelopments, including publicly-owned property. The MDEQ guidance describes the requirements for the program, including the following components:

  • Water Quality Treatment Performance Standard
  • Channel Protection Performance Standard
  • Site-Specific Requirements for Contaminated Sites and Potential Hot Spots
  • Site Plan Review
  • Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Requirements for BMPs
  • Enforcement Response Procedure (including Tracking)

Additionally, the Low Impact Development Manual for Michigan is a SEMCOG resource for use in helping meet these new requirements. The Green Infrastructure Vision for Southeast Michigan also discusses constructed green infrastructure and the connection to improving the quality of local water resources.

Reducing the quantity of stormwater runoff is a common priority within Southeast Michigan watersheds. But how much runoff reduction is necessary to realize a demonstrated improvement in receiving water quality? Two ongoing projects are studying the connection between stream flashiness and receiving water quality. By establishing water quality metrics, local watershed groups and communities can prioritize stormwater projects and seek out partnership opportunities.

Public Education Plan

What You Can Do To Protect Our Waterways is SEMCOG's public outreach plan, used by our members to assist in educating the public on the public education component of the permit. SEMCOG will update the Web site as appropriate.

Developing Regional Solutions
SEMCOG is a regional planning partnership of governmental units serving 4.7 million people in the seven-county region of Southeast Michigan striving to enhance the region's quality of life.