PennFuture’s Legal Challenge Results in New Statewide Permit with Increased Protection from Stormwater Pollution

March 16 (Harrisburg, PA)— As a result of  a successful legal challenge by PennFuture to an earlier version of  the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) general permit, a new, more protective permit goes into effect today, with notable changes that will control pollution from stormwater runoff across the state.  

PennFuture initially challenged PA DEP’s 2013 general permit because it insufficiently complied with the Clean Water Act, and failed to better protect Pennsylvania’s rivers, streams, and drinking water sources.  

As a result of settling the legal challenge, PA DEP agreed to modify the new permit to include, among other elements, an opportunity for public participation and a requirement that municipalities take ownership of the problem by creating plans outlining how they will decrease stormwater pollution. 

“PennFuture is encouraged to see its 2013 challenge result in the implementation of a permit that will be more protective of our streams and rivers,” PennFuture Staff Attorney Alice R. Baker said.  “This permit is particularly important to achieving the state’s commitment to pollutant reduction targets in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load.”

When heavy storms occur, sewer systems across the state often overflow, carrying pollution and chemicals down streets and into bodies of water, including drinking water resources. The new permit includes a number of minimum controls of public education and outreach on stormwater runoff pollution, along with public involvement and participation, while offering specific examples and strategies for communities to deal with this common form of pollution that has negative impacts on drinking water sources. 

“We are pleased with the outcome and believe that this new general permit will help guide municipalities across the state to better protect our Commonwealth’s water from stormwater runoff pollution,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo.

PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.


Stephanie Rex, Director of Communications, PennFuture