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General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4)


Program Update - What's new


  • Stormwater Impaired Waters Flow Monitoring: All MS4s that discharge to a stormwater impaired water are required to implement a flow and precipitation monitoring program. In compliance with the January 2, 2014 due date in the MS4 permit, all MS4s submitted Flow Monitoring Plans. In the 2013-2014 Legislative Session, Tthe Vermont Legislature passed a bill that allows the Agency to collect funds from MS4s to implement a comprehensive flow monitoring program for MS4s that wish to participate. For the text of the bill and final Act, click here:  Act 171: An Act Relating To Establishing The Ecosystem Restoration And Water Quality Improvement Special Fund
  • Residual Designation Authority (RDA) designations for impervious surface that discharges directly to the stormwater impaired streams: In 2009, the Department issued General Permit 3-9030 for designated discharges to Bartlett, Centennial, Englesby, Morehouse, and Potash Brook watersheds. The Department designated discharges to these receiving waters if the discharge is not covered under the NPDES municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), another NPDES permit covering stormwater discharges, or has been issued a state stormwater discharge permit resulting in no net contribution to the receiving water.  The Department plans to designate dischargers in the remaining stormwater impaired watersheds: Allen, Indian, Munroe, Rugg, Stevens, and Sunderland.
  • Expired Stormwater Operational Permits within the storwmater impaired watersheds: It is the Department’s intention that all expired permits will be required to obtain coverage under a valid permit.  As a result of the Environmental Court’s decision in the Residual Designation Authority (RDA) petition, all such permits shall be National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Under the MS4 General permit (IV.C.e.3), MS4 permittees are required to submit a plan to the Department for addressing expired permits that discharge into the permittee’s separate storm sewer system.  The intent of this requirement is to provide municipalities the option of providing permit coverage for these discharges under the municipalities’ MS4 Permit coverage.  Alternatively, a municipality may choose to petition the Department to issue permit coverage to these discharges separately from the MS4 permit coverage.  In such a case the Department will use its RDA permitting mechanism to issue NPDES permits to these discharges.  The Department has developed two guidance documents to further explain the permit language:
Newly Designated MS4
SW Impaired Waters within MS4 Jurisdiction
City of St. Albans
Rugg, Stevens
Town of St. Albans
Rugg, Stevens
Town of Rutland
Previously Permitted MS4
SW Impaired Waters within MS4 Jurisdiction
City of Burlington
Centennial, Englesby, Potash
Burlington International Airport

BTV Volume I: Draft SWMP


BTV Volume III: SW Management Study

Centennial (sm), Potash
Town of Colchester
Morehouse (sm), Sunderland
Town of Essex
Indian, Sunderland
Village of Essex Junction
Indian, Sunderland
Town of Milton
Town of Shelburne
Bartlett (sm), Munroe
City of South Burlington
Bartlett, Centennial, Englesby, Munroe, Potash
University of Vermont
Centennial, Englesby, Potash
Town of Williston
City of Winooski


VTrans Receiving Waters

Most sw impaired watersheds


Permit Background

On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Vermont's MS4 Permit was issued.  This MS4 permit is the second MS4 General Permit issued by the State of Vermont.  The first MS4 permit was issued in 2003 and amended in 2004.  Both the 2004 and 2012 permits authorize stormwater discharges within the Urbanized Areas of the following small MS4s: Burlington, Colchester, Essex, Essex Junction, Milton, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston, and Winooski, the University of Vermont, the Burlington International Airport and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans).   The VTrans small MS4 includes state highways within the Urbanized Areas in the above mentioned municipalities and in the towns of Jericho and Underhill. Click here for the Press Release and Permit Q&A.

Concurrent with the 2012 MS4 permit issuance, the Department is designatating those portions of Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems that discharge to the stormwater impaired waters. The designated small MS4s, within the stormwater impaired watersheds, are operated by the City of Rutland, the Town of Rutland, the City of St. Albans, the Town of St. Albans, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation within the geographic boundaries of the stormwater impaired watersheds in the municipalities listed above. 

The most significant change in the 2012 MS4 permit is the requirement for municipalities to develop Flow Restoration Plans (FRPs) to implement the stormwater TMDLs.  The FRPs must be developed for each impaired watershed within 3 years and must include the following elements: 1) an identification of the required controls, 2) a design and construction schedule, 3) a financial plan, 4) a regulatory analysis, 5) the identification of regulatory assistance, and 6) identification of any third party implementation.  The schedule shall provide for implementation of the required BMPs as soon as possible, but no later than 20 years from the effective date of the permit.

For more information on the MS4 permit, contact Christy Witters at (802) 490-6173 or via email at

MS4 Map

Permit Documents and Forms

Final 2012 MS4 Permit (Administratively Revised 1/2013) (pdf, 391 KB)

Final 2012 Response to Comments (pdf, 279 KB)

Final Designation Notice for the City of St.Albans, Town of St.Albans, City of Rutland, and the Town of Rutland (pdf,581KB)

Final Designation Response to Comments (pdf, 26 KB)

2012 Waiver Notices for Jericho and Underhill (pdf, 903 KB)

NOI application form (pdf, 52 KB)

Attachment A: Selected Minimum Control Measures (xlsx, 14 KB)

Attachment B: Minimum Control Measure Implementation Timeframe (xlsx, 16 KB)

What is an MS4?

A municipal separate storm sewer system is a conveyance or system of conveyances (including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, or storm drains):

Owned or operated by a State, city, town, borough, county, parish, district, association, or other public body (created by or pursuant to State law) having jurisdiction over disposal of sewage, industrial wastes, stormwater, or other wastes, including special districts under State law such as a sewer district, flood control district or drainage district, or similar entity, or a designated and approved management agency under Section 208 of the CWA that discharges to waters of the State and waters of the United States

Designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater;

Which is not a combined sewer; and

Which is not part of a publicly owned treatment works.


Types of small MS4s

Small MS4s include cities, towns, counties, airports, highway departments, and universities. There are four ways by which a small MS4 may be designated as a "regulated" small MS4 and thus require permit coverage:

Automaic designation - Small MS4s located within the boundaries of a Census Bureau-defined Urbanized Area (UA) based on the 2000 Census or any subsequent decennial census. Urbanized Areas include areas with populations of at least 50,000 people with an overall population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile.

These communities are Burlington, Colchester, Essex, Essex Junction, Milton, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston, and Winooski. Three publicly owned 'non-traditional' separate storm sewer systems were also designated. These systems are owned or operated by the University of Vermont, Burlington International Airport and the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The regulations apply to areas served by each MS4 that are located either within the UA or watersheds that are principally impaired by stormwater.

Potential designation by permit authority - Small MS4s that are located outside of UAs determined to result in, or have the potential to, result in significant water quality impacts;

These MS4s are those areas that discharge to waters listed as impaired due to stormwater runoff within the municipal separate storm sewer systems of the City of St. Albans, the Town of St. Albans, the City of Rutland, the Town of Rutland, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation within these areas.

Contributes to an interconnected "regulated" MS4 - Small MS4s that contribute substanitally to pollutant loadings of a physically interconnected MS4 regulated by the NPDES storm water program;

Petition for designation - Small MS4s may be designated following a final determination by the Department on a petition, or request, for designation.


MS4 Permit Requirements

There are six minimum measures required of each designated municipality under the Rule. These measures are:

(1) Public Education and Outreach,

(2) Public Participation/Involvement

(3) Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

(4) Construction Site Runoff Control

(5) Post-Construction Runoff Control and

(6) Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping.

In addition, municipalities that dishcarge to stormwater impaired waters must prepare and implement a Flow Restoration Plan for their portion of the stormwater impaired watershed.


Links to Additional Information



Stream Team
The Chittenden County MS4 municipalities and nontraditional MS4's have developed a regional stormwater education program (RSEP) for Chittenden County. More information about RSEP can be found at: The Chittenden County Stream Team is a project to engage citizens across an eight-town area (Burlington, Essex, Essex Junction, Milton, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston & Winooski) to implement projects to reduce non-point source pollution and stormwater volume at the local level. More information about the Stream Team can be found at:

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission acts as the manager or Lead Agency on behalf of the two, collective regional efforts formed by these twelve Chittenden County MS4 permitees: the Chittenden County Regional Stormwater Education Program (RSEP) and the Chittenden County Stream Team. More information can be found at:



Links to MS4 Stormwater Websites

City of Burlington

Burlington International Airport

Town of Colchester

Town of Essex

Village of Essex Junction

Town of Milton

Town of Shelburne

City of South Burlington

University of Vermont

Town of Williston

City of Winooski



Links to Previous Documents and Permit

Draft General Permit 3-9014 (2010)



Previously Issued MS4 Permit (2003)

MS4 Notice of Issuance (pdf, 61 KB)

MS4 Response Summary (pdf, 208 KB)

MS4 Notice of Intent Form (pdf, 36 KB), (Word, 37 KB )

Amended MS4 Response Summary (pdf, 24 KB)

Amended MS4 Notice of Issuance (pdf, 18 KB)

Amended MS4 Permit (pdf, 201 KB)

Amended General Permit 3-9014, as further modified by the Water Resources Board's decision In re Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), WQ-03-08 and WQ-04-03 [July 21, 2005] (pdf, 118 KB)



Updated: December 2014

VT DEC Watershed Management Division 1 National Life Drive, Main 2  Montpelier, VT  05620-3522  Tele: 802-828-1535   Fax: 802-828-1544


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