Storm Water Management

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Storm water runoff diagramWhat is Storm Water Runoff?

Storm water is any form of precipitation, such as rainfall, which flows across the surface of the ground. Storm water that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff, which either flows into storm sewers or surface waterways or receiving streams. The term storm water may also be used to apply to water that originates from overwatering of landscapes and enters the storm water system. Although a natural part of the water cycle, storm water runoff can also be an environmental concern. Pollutants can enter surface waters such as our lakes, creeks, streams, and other natural waters when they are picked by the storm water. Daily activities result in the deposit of pollutants on roads, lawns, roofs, and farms create polluted runoff when irrigation or precipitation events introduce the contaminants into the receiving waters.

Storm Water Regulation

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) have developed regulations pursuant to the Clean Water Act. The goal of the Clean Water Act is to restore all “Waters of the United States” to their “fishable” and “swimmable” conditions.  To address the nationwide problem of storm water pollution, in 1987 Congress broadened the Clean Water Act definition of ‘point source” to include industrial storm water discharges and municipal separate storm sewer systems “MS4” These facilities were required to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. These new requirements were promulgated in two phases: Phase I and Phase II. Phase I required that all municipalities of 100,000 persons or more, industrial dischargers, and construction sites of 5 acres or more have NPDES permits for their storm water discharges. Phase II required that all municipalities, industrial dischargers, construction sites of 1 acre or more and other large property owners have NPDES permits for their storm water discharges. Phase II rules came into effect in 2003. Galveston County is part of the Phase II.

A Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan that prevents or reduces pollutants in storm water must be developed under the regulations. As of August 13, 2007, urbanized areas were required to develop a Storm Water Management Program (SWMP) to reduce the impacts of storm water on our creeks, streams, and lakes. This management program will incorporate measures such as public involvement and participation, municipal pollution prevention and good housekeeping, and construction site runoff control. The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is developing public education programs to inform its residents and businesses of the benefits of preventing storm water pollution. Additionally, GCHD has developed a Storm Water MS4 Pollution Control Order and enforcement procedures to ensure that residents, businesses, contractors, and developers are fully aware of what their responsibilities are and what is expected of them to protect area water sources. The implementation of the SWMP will require an enormous commitment from the County, and community involvement is critical to its success.

If you would like more information on GCHD’s Storm Water Management Plan, contact Air and Water Pollution Services at (409) 938-2251. Together, we can help ensure an abundant supply of clean water for years to come.


The TCEQ and the EPA have developed requirements for construction sites that disturb one or more acre of land or a common plan of development that will disturb one or more acre of land. These regulations require applicable construction sites to comply with the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) Construction General Permit.

The Construction General Permit details the requirements that all construction sites must follow to control erosion and sediment runoff during construction. There are two categories of site requirements based on the size of the area to be disturbed.

Large Construction Sites (five acres or greater, or a common plan of development that will disturb 5 acres or greater) must contact TCEQ.

Small Construction Sites (one acre or more, but less than five acres, or a common plan of development that will disturb one or more acre, but less than five acres) in the unincorporated portions of the county.

Construction activities that are ≥ 1 acre and < 5 acres, must comply with the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) Permit rules and regulations for small construction sites listed in the TXR150000 Construction General Permit, then complete and post the Small Construction Site Notice located on the TCEQ’s website.

Additionally, operators must comply with the GCHD’s Storm Water MS4 Pollution Control Order. To obtain coverage under the permit, the operator of a small construction site must:

  1. Complete Storm Water General Permit application and submit to GCHD by one of the following methods:
    • By mail:   Program Manager         
                                   Air and Water Pollution Services
                                    PO Box 939
                                    La Marque, TX 77568
    • By fax:     409-938-2271
    • Online using Storm Water General Permit application 
  2. Schedule a meeting with GCHD. Contact Leticia Tubbs by phone at 409-938-2251 or by email at ‘Illicit Discharge, Detection, and Elimination’ DVD
  3. Pay permit fee of $200 per site.

A letter of approval will be sent upon the completion of the above mentioned items.

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