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.

The Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water group is comprised of SEMCOG members, including representatives from local communities and counties, in addition to representatives from watershed councils, not-for-profit agencies,  the private sector, and water resource professionals. The purpose of the group is to facilitate information sharing, to coordinate public education, and to leverage resources on water quality, stormwater management, and green infrastructure implementation. 

SEMCOG helps to support ongoing Phase II compliance activities by summarizing annual information related to SEMCOG’s stormwater management activities, with a specific focus on communication, public education, and outreach efforts. This information helps communities and counties meet the reporting requirements associated with the federal Phase II Stormwater Regulations. The most recent report and past reports are provided here: 

Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water Report 2014 to 2015
Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water Report 2013 to 2014
Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water Report 2012 to 2013

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.

Many local governments in Southeast Michigan are required by their municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit to train their employees on stormwater management. To assist local governments in this training, SEMCOG offers in-person workshops and materials for to help meet state requirements. There are three main categories of training materials:

  1. Landscaping Practices for Stormwater Improvement
  2. Maintenance Garage and Storage Yard Practices
  3. Streets and Parking Lot Practices

You will find brochures, posters, presentations, and other materials to help communities train their staff in these areas to help improve stormwater quality.

If you have specific stormwater training needs, please contact the Information Center or call (313) 324-3330.

Landscaping Practices

Municipal landscaping practices are ripe with opportunity to prevent stormwater pollution. The following training materials help describe these activities and identify best practices to help prevent stormwater pollution.


Lawn Care, Fertilizer, Yard Waste, & Pesticides, Tom Smith, February 2007 (pdf, 1.9MB)
Plant Selection, Planting Practices, Native & Invasive Plants, Michigan State University, February 2007 (pdf, 11.6MB)
Municipal Lawn Maintenance, Gary Eichen, Mike's Tree Surgeons (pdf, 661KB)

Fact Sheets

Fertilizer Management, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 383KB)
Goose Management, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 344KB)
Hiring a Landscape Contractor, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 377KB)
Implementing an Integrated Pest Management Program, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 354KB)
Introduction to Integrated Pest Management, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 384KB)
Invasive Plant Species, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 445KB)
Landscape Design, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 372KB)
Lawn Care, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 356KB)
Native Plants, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 488KB)
Pesticide Management, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 621KB)
Planting Practices, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 480KB)
Protecting the Riparian Corridor, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 509KB)
Selecting Plants, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 440KB)
Woody Debris Management, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 205KB)


Landscaping Practices, SEMCOG, February 2007 (pdf, 626KB)

Maintenance Garages and Storage Yards

Municipal maintenance garages and storage yards may contain materials or areas of activity that potentially lead to stormwater pollution. The following materials help describe these activities and identify best practices to help prevent stormwater pollution.


Fleet and Facility Maintenance, SEMCOG, March, 2011, (pdf, 4.9MB)

Fact sheets

Chemical management, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 293KB)
Cleaning paved work areas, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 84KB)
Dumpster and loading docks, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 150KB)
Sanding, grinding, and painting, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 175KB)
Vehicle and equipment washing, SEMCOG, July 2006(pdf, 138KB)
Vehicle and equipment maintenance, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 120KB)
Vehicle and equipment fueling, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 148KB)
Vehicle parking and storage, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 117KB)


Maintenance Garage Checklist, SEMCOG, July 2006, (pdf, 194KB)


Maintenance garages and storage yards, SEMCOG, July 2006 (pdf, 577KB)
Aggregate Storage Tips Poster (pdf, 624KB)
Vehicle Fluid Tips Poster (pdf, 705KB)

Streets and Parking Lots

Municipal street operations have the potential to lead to stormwater pollution. The following training materials help determine these activities and identify local actions to help prevent stormwater pollution.


Catch Basin Project Results, ECT (pdf, 3.3MB)
Catch Basin Project Summary, ECT (pdf, 308KB)
Catch Basin Project Report, ECT (pdf, 2.6MB)
Structural Control Inspections, SEMCOG (pdf, 1.8MB)

Fact Sheets

Bridge and Stream Crossing Maintenance, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 686KB)
Catch Basin Maintenance, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 268KB)
Gravel Road and Parking Lot Maintenance, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 219KB)
Hiring a Contractor, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 319KB)
Managing Roadside Vegetation, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 367KB)
Paved Road and Parking Lot Maintenance, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 371KB)
Protecting Sensitive Areas, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 391KB)
Salt Storage and Application Techniques, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 362KB)
Snow Storage and Disposal, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 290KB)
Street and Parking Lot Sweeping, SEMCOG, 2007 (pdf, 324KB)


Example of Contractor Brochure for Stormwater, City of Troy (pdf, 403KB)

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.