DEEP to hold hearing on proposed stormwater rule changes

Towns will be required to clean catch basins more frequently, sweep roads twice a year to remove sand, salt and leaves, inspect storm drains regularly to check for illegal discharges and sample to find and address the most highly polluted stormwater, under changes proposed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

DEEP will host a public hearing on the proposed changes at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at its main office at 79 Elm St. in Hartford. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the Connecticut Council of Small Towns and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment are among groups that are expected to comment on the plan.

Dennis Schain, spokesman for DEEP, said Tuesday the purpose of the changes is to improve the quality of the water discharged into the state's rivers and streams. More than half of the waterways monitored by DEEP are not clean enough to support recreation and fishing, primarily because of polluted runoff from roads, parking lots and other areas, he said.

"We're just looking to step it up a notch," he said.

The changes are being proposed to comply with a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency under the federal Clean Water Act, he said. The act, which is enforced by the states, sets increasingly strict standards for water quality. Schain said the changes are being made as part of revisions to the general stormwater discharge permits issued to towns to carry out a variety of activities that result in release of water into rivers and streams.

First announced in July, the proposed changes generated concerns from towns that the new requirements would be overly burdensome, and several groups petitioned for the hearing, he said.

Based on the comments at the hearing, he said, the proposed changes will be revised.

"We'll work with the cities and towns to have this be a program they can work with," he said.

Written comments on the changes will be accepted at the hearing and until Jan. 9. They should be mailed to: Brendan Schain, hearing officer, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Office of Adjudications, 79 Elm St., Hartford CT 06106-4052; and copied to: Christopher Stone, DEEP, BMMCA-Water Permitting and Enforcement Division, at the same address.

Comments also can be sent via email to deep.adjudications@ct.gov and copied to chris.stone@ct.gov.

j.benson@theday.com

LEARN MORE

The notice of hearing with a link to the draft general permit can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/1FEazwq

For more information, call (860) 424-3037.

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