The Clean Water Act (CWA), passed in 1972, made the discharge of any pollutants from a point source into navigable waters unlawful, unless permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE). Navigable waters are water bodies, such as rivers, canals, and lakes. Point sources are single identifiable sources of pollution, for example a pipe or any man-made ditch. Discharges are permitted only under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the WA Department of Ecology (DOE). Every industrial, municipal, or other facility that discharges water directly into a surface water body must obtain a permit and use best management practices (BMPs) in order to control pollution.
BMPs are methods used to control water pollution. They can consist of one or a combination of a schedule of activities, prohibitions of certain practices, maintenance procedures, managerial practices, and structural facilities designed specifically to prevent or reduce the release of pollutants and other adverse impacts to water bodies.
Yakima County is permitted to discharge stormwater from publicly owned stormwater facilities under the Eastern Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit through the DOE. We use all of these types of BMPs to manage stormwater and comply with the requirements of our stormwater permit. Examples of BMPs Yakima County uses are below:
For BMP examples or home implementation ideas, see the EPA’s National Menu of Stormwater BMPs.