Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Along with an illicit discharge model ordinance, included on this site are various illicit discharge ordinances from around the country:

Fort Worth, Texas Environmental Code-Stormwater Protection This ordinance has been used as a model by many other communities around the country, and their illicit connection detection program has been recognized nationally.

Washentaw County, Michigan Regulation for Inspection of Residential Onsite Disposal Systems at Property Transfer  Failing septic systems are recognized as a source of pollutants, especially nitrogen and bacteria. This ordinance seeks to identify those systems that may be contributing excessive pollutant loadings by requiring that inspections be done a time of sale or title transfer.

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Sewer Use Ordinance  Sewer use ordinances are designed to control pollutant discharges to the sanitary sewer system. Since cross connections often occur between sanitary and storm sewer systems, the regulation of discharges can help reduce contamination of stormwater runoff.

City of Monterey, California Stormwater Ordinance The City of Monterey was part of a Model Urban Runoff Program designed to be used by small municipalities under 100,000 in population. The Model Program includes a "Stormwater Discharge Management Ordinance" which provides the legal authority required to regulate illicit discharges.

Montgomery County, Maryland Illicit Discharge Ordinance This ordinance includes illegal discharge restrictions for agriculture and includes language that provides the Director of Environmental Protection with significant latitude for illicit discharge control.

An illicit discharge is defined as any discharge to the municipal separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of storm water, except for discharges allowed under an NPDES permit or waters used for firefighting operations. These non-stormwater discharges occur due to illegal connections to the storm drain system from business or commercial establishments. As a result of these illicit connections, contaminated wastewater enters into storm drains or directly into local waters before receiving treatment from a wastewater treatment plant. Illicit connections may be intentional or may be unknown to the business owner, and often happen due to the connection of floor drains to the storm sewer system. Additional sources of illicit discharges can be failing septic systems, illegal dumping practices, and the improper disposal of sewage from recreational practices such as boating or camping.

Illicit discharge detection and elimination programs are designed to prevent contamination of ground and surface water supplies by monitoring, inspection and removal of these illegal non-stormwater discharges. An essential element of these programs is an ordinance granting the authority to inspect properties suspected of releasing contaminated discharges into storm drain systems. Guaranteed "right of entry" to private property is critical to allowing inspectors to identify and take corrective actions on individual sources of illicit discharges. Another important factor is the establishment of enforcement actions for those properties found to be in noncompliance or that refuse to allow access to their facilities. Among the enforcement actions that have been used in ordinances: cease and desist orders, suspension of water or sewer service, and criminal and civil penalties including charging the owner of the property for the cost of abatement. Methods for appeal are often included in these enforcement measures that provide owners with avenues for compliance with the ordinance.

The model ordinance in this section includes language to address illicit discharges in general, as well as illicit connections from industrial sites. The language is borrowed from a number of ordinances and communities will need to assess what enforcement methods are appropriate for their area. In addition, some of the example ordinances have language addressing specific issues not dealt with in the model such as cosmetic cleaning washwater discharges and washwater from pavement cleaning. For those areas where septic systems are commonly used for wastewater treatment, language requiring inspection of these systems should also be added.