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MS4 Permits

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution in Minnesota and the Rice Creek Watershed District. One of the ways federal, state, and local governments address stormwater runoff pollution is with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit program, or simply called MS4.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4)

MS4’s are:

  • Required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Administered locally by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
  • Specifically designed to reduce and prevent sediment and other pollutants from entering stormwater systems, lakes, streams, and other waterways.

RCWD participates in the MS4 permit program in two ways:

  • As a MS4 permit holder
  • As a resource for local MS4 permit holders

RCWD’s MS4 Permit

RCWD is considered a non-traditional MS4, because its MS4 permit covers the public drainage systems in urbanized areas. Traditional MS4 permit holders usually own or operate stormwater sewer systems which include municipal streets, storm drains, curbs, and gutters. Many RCWD communities are traditional MS4s. 

RCWD’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP)

Part of its MS4 permit, RCWD develops, implements, and enforces a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP). The SWPPP describes activities and practices that RCWD takes to reduce and prevent stormwater pollution. The public is able to make comments and hear RCWD present information on its MS4 permit during the annual public meeting held.

MS4 Resources for MS4 Communities/Cities within RCWD

The MS4 requires an education and outreach aspect. RCWD prioritizes supporting partners in their efforts to manage stormwater runoff by providing a number of resources to help improve stormwater management.

Education and Outreach Resources

  • Contact RCWD is you have a workshop need or contractor training. RCWD can help plan, fund, and partner on workshop/training events for MS4s within RCWD.
  • RCWD can host various MPCA Smart Salting Training and Workshops. Contact RCWD if you are in need of a smart salting workshop in your area.
  • RCWD can host various MPCA Turf Maintenance Training and Workshops. Contact RCWD if you’re in need of a turf grass workshop in your area.
  • Use of RCWD’s utility inserts, brochures, displays, hands-on activities, newsletter articles, outreach toolkits, and other materials. More information on “Get Involved” page. Contact RCWD to use any of these resources.
  • Access to resources and workshops from our partners at Blue Thumb, MN Adopt a Drain program, Watershed Partners, Minnesota Water Stewards, East Metro Water Resources Collaborative, and other organizations.

MS4 Technical Resources

  • MPCA MS4 Digital Document Library provides guidance documents and example materials to assist MS4s. MPCA staff have reviewed all materials to ensure their compliance.
  • MPCA MS4 Fact Sheets: This page contains fact sheets for the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Program (MS4).
  • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies. These studies are required for water bodies that are classified as impaired by the State when they do not meet State Water Quality Standards. RCWD’s focus is on nutrient impairments. However, there are times when the District may support partner organizations’ efforts to address other types of impairments.
  • To aid communities and stakeholders in determining if progress is being made towards water quality goals. The District also collects data through its water quality monitoring program, Water Quality page
  • Minnesota Stormwater Seminar Series: The Minnesota Stormwater Seminar Series provides an opportunity to learn about the most recent research, discoveries and case studies around urban stormwater management specifically for an audience of stormwater practitioners and professionals.

MS4 Professional Training Resources

MS4 Permitees are required to provide training for staff on a variety of topics related to stormwater and pollution prevention.

Our partners at EMWREP and Washington Conservation District have created videos for various MS4 topics on their YouTube channel.

Click here for MS4 Trainings Videos

Video topics:

  • Stockpile Management
  • Use and Storage of Significant Materials
  • Routine Street and Parking Lot Sweeping
  • Pesticides and Fertilizers
  • Right of Way Maintenance
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Road Maintenance
  • Waste Disposal
  • Emergency Response
  • Cleaning of maintenance equipment, building exteriors, and dumpsters
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Raingarden Maintenance
  • Parks Maintenance

Other Video Resources

MPCA has MS4 video/webinar available: MS4 Videos/Webinars

Reporting Illicit Discharge

Illicit discharge is considered any discharge into the stormwater system that is not composed entirely of stormwater. This can include sediment, grass clippings, leaf piles, oil, gasoline, chemicals (paint, antifreeze, and pesticides), concrete washout, and trash.

Report spills of any substance under your control immediately

Call the Minnesota Duty Officer at 800-422-0798 or 651-649-5451 (available 24 hours)

Click here for Minnesota Duty Officer Program Information

RCWD regulates illicit discharge when it’s within our public drainage system in urban areas. 

Contact RCWD if an illicit discharge is seen or suspected in the public ditch system. Direct phone 763-398-3070

Cities also regulate illicit discharge in their stormwater systems. A city should be contacted directly when illicit discharge is suspected in or near a city stormwater system. 

Some indicators of illicit discharge: 

  • Unnatural colors
  • Unnatural odor
  • Trash or debris
  • Signs of dumping or leaks
  • Suds
  • Oil sheens
  • Murky or cloudy water


Contact Permitting Staff

For questions about RCWD’s MS4 Permit please contact:

William (Will) Roach

Watershed Technician / Inspector