U.S. EPA, Port of Stockton agree on improved management of stormwater discharges to San Joaquin River

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Dec. 14, 2009 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with California's Port of Stockton to correct deficiencies in the port's stormwater program...

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Dec. 14, 2009 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with California's Port of Stockton to correct deficiencies in the port's stormwater program in an effort to bring it into compliance with the Clean Water Act and improve water quality in the San Joaquin River.

In a 2008 audit of the ports stormwater management and control systems, the U.S. EPA and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board found deficiencies with the port's permit program concerning construction and industrial oversight, municipal operations, standard development, and toxicity monitoring. Discharges from the port's sewer system flow directly or indirectly to the San Joaquin River.

"Discharge from municipal storm sewer systems is a significant source of water contamination in the San Joaquin River," said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "The Port of Stockton's efforts under this agreement will greatly improve its stormwater program and help minimize stormwater pollution of an important water resource."

The Clean Water Act has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program designed to address stormwater pollution. Under the program, operators of municipal sewer systems obtain permit authorization from the EPA or an authorized state and must run a comprehensive stormwater management program to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed or dumped into surface waters.

Under the agreement, the port is to improve its toxicity testing program, oversight of industrial tenants and construction sites, and management practices for pesticide storage, catch basins, sumps, stormwater retention basins, and street sweeping by July 1, 2010.

Through its Ports Initiative, the EPA's Pacific Southwest regional office is evaluating stormwater management at various ports. This effort involves both individual inspections of port tenants and audits of the municipal stormwater programs implemented by the ports. The initiative aims to improve water quality by working with facilities to bring them into compliance and collaborating with states to improve stormwater permits for ports.

Ports contain a variety of facilities, including container terminals, boat repair shops, and industries related to the transportation of goods. Many of these industries are subject to stormwater requirements. Due to their close proximity to our nation's waterways, port industries' compliance with stormwater requirements has been identified as an emerging national enforcement priority area.

For more information on the EPA Ports Initiative please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/ports/
For more information on the Clean Water Act, please visit the EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/regulations/laws/cwa.html

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