DOJ, EPA, NDEP reach agreement regarding NDOT’s storm water permit
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) have reached an agreement with the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) to resolve alleged violations of NDOT’s storm water permit. The agreement requires NDOT to establish a storm water management program to control pollutants entering waters, spend $200,000 on an environmental project that will provide real-time water quality data to the public and pay $60,000 each to EPA and NDEP.
“Nevada’s Governor Sandoval has shown great leadership by investing in the newly-established storm water program,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Water is a vital resource in the arid West, and this agreement will help preserve and protect Nevada’s rivers and streams.”
Under the federal Clean Water Act, NDOT is required to minimize pollutants in runoff from its operations to lakes and rivers throughout the state. Storm water runoff from unpaved areas, paved streets and maintenance yards contains contaminants such as sediments, trash, chemicals and oils that can flow into waterways, resulting in environmental damage.
EPA discovered the alleged violations of NDOT’s storm water permit during a 2011 audit. Nevada subsequently passed a state law directed at minimizing storm water impacts and invested $13 million to establish an NDOT storm water division staffed with 59 full time employees dedicated to reducing the impacts of storm water pollution. In addition, the state has spent $7.6 million to purchase needed equipment, such as street sweepers, and has another $15 million earmarked for projects this year.
NDOT will spend $200,000 on a supplemental environmental project to upgrade water quality monitoring devices that will post online continuous monitoring data available to the public. This will provide NDOT, local governments and the public access to real-time water quality information to help protect Nevada’s waterways.
The settlement also requires NDOT to develop a public outreach program, digitized statewide maps indicating where NDOT discharges storm water, and a plan detailing steps NDOT is taking to reduce the discharge of pollutants from its operations.
The consent decree for this settlement was lodged in the federal district court by DOJ and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. To view a copy of the decree, visit www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.
For more information on EPA’s storm water program, visit www.epa.gov/npdes/npdes-stormwater-program.