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Frequently Asked Questions

What are storm water discharges?
Storm water discharges are generated by runoff from land and impervious areas such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops during rainfall and snow events. This runoff often contains pollutants in quantities that could adversely affect water quality. Most storm water discharges require coverage by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The primary method to control storm water discharges is through the use of structural and nonstructural best management practices (BMPs).

Why is storm water management needed?
In the past, storm sewer system planning focused on flood control, utilizing sound practices of sewer system sizing, flood routing, and storm water detention. The growing pressures of urbanization and increased federal regulation have dictated that modern storm water system management must take a broader point of view, considering not only the volume of storm runoff, but also pollution prevention.

Most people think storm water runoff is a relatively harmless, natural occurrence, and do not realize it has the potential to pollute one of our most precious natural resources, our fresh water supply (lakes and streams). Storm water frequently has high levels of sediment, litter, phosphorus, nitrogen, heavy metals, oil, grease and organic materials.

As a construction contractor how does this affect me and my job site?
Storm water runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. As storm water flows over a construction site, it picks up pollutants like sediment, debris, and chemicals. Polluted storm water runoff can harm or kill fish and other wildlife. Sedimentation can destroy aquatic habitat, and high volumes of runoff can cause stream bank erosion.

The NPDES storm water program requires operators of construction sites 1 acre or larger (including smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development) to obtain authorization to discharge storm water under an NPDES construction storm water permit.  The development and implementation of storm water pollution prevention plans are the focus of NPDES storm water permits for regulated construction activities.

North Dakota and Minnesota are authorized to implement the Storm Water NPDES permitting program. EPA remains the permitting authority in a few states, territories and on most Native American lands. For construction (and other land-disturbing activities) in areas where EPA is the permitting authority, operators must meet the requirements of the EPA Construction General Permit (CGP).

By volume, sediment-filled storm water runoff is the leading source of pollution in our surface waters. During a short period of time, construction activity can contribute more sediment to streams than can be deposited naturally over several decades, causing physical and biological harm to our waters. The EPA estimates that 20 to 150 tons of soil per acre is lost to storm water runoff from construction sites. Many studies indicate that controlling erosion can significantly reduce the amount of sediment and other pollutants transported by runoff from construction sites.

All construction within the City of Fargo and its extraterritorial limits disturbing more than 30% of the parcel requires an Erosion and Sediment Control Permit (link to PDF of ESC Permit) in addition to all other permits.