National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

The Federal Clean Water Act was designed to reduce pollution by issuing permits to regulate the amount of pollutants that can be discharged in municipal activities, industrial activities, and in construction projects.

NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) is that permit program.  It specifically addresses stormwater runoff discharges.  Runoff by rain or by snowmelt picks up pollutants on impervious surfaces and generally conveys them directly into the nearest waterbody.  Stormwater runoff that is not comprised entirely of stormwater is considered to be illicit.  Illicit discharges of pollutants harm our waters and jeopardize our health.

Sometimes permittees (those organizations required to have NPDES permits) have illicit discharges that they might not be aware of.  Other times permittees are aware of their illicit discharges but need reminders of their lawful obligations.  And sometimes the general public contributes to illicit discharges because they do not know how harmful pollutants in stormwater can be, or they do not consider their actions to be contributing factors.  If you wash your vehicle on your paved driveway dirt, grease, oil, and detergent will be picked up in the next rain (or by you if you hose down the driveway) and those pollutants will be carried directly into the water in your community.

The Clean Water Act, and subsequently the NPDES program, calls for citizen participation through education and involvement.  We provide training to those who wish to become more engaged in protecting and maintaining the integrity of the waters in the communities where they live.  We call this program “Certified Stormwater Volunteers.”

Our Certified Stormwater Volunteer members receive comprehensive training in identifying and reporting illicit discharges to assist their Public Works and Environmental Departments.  They often also assist these departments in a wide variety of other stormwater activities including Adopt-A-Road programs, Only Rain in the Drain stenciling programs, and more!

The National Stormwater Center also provides training to university-level students.  These future environmental science, engineering, and environmental consultant graduates rarely receive instruction specifically in the NPDES program, and they need to understand the permitting and compliance process to better serve their organizations and their customers.

For both Certified Stormwater Volunteer and Certified Stormwater Student programs, basic training by National Stormwater Center is provided free of charge.  Should these graduates of our basic program choose membership, they will receive additional training as a membership benefit!  Our goal is to help them understand the law, identify potential illicit discharges, and subsequently help their communities and their community’s water.

Please consider a tax deductible donation!  Public funding allows us to continue to develop and deliver stormwater training to community residents and college students free of charge, to subsidize annual membership fees for students, and to fund stormwater work projects for students.  Donations also allow us to continue our work in identifying non-compliant Industrial and Construction organizations for the purpose of getting them to fulfill their lawful obligations.

Be sure to look through our website to learn about all of the other work we do, too!

This division of the National Stormwater Center is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, recognized by IRS as a private foundation. Check out our work, become involved as a volunteer with us, and consider making a donation to help us continue to help communities achieve clean water!