New Stormwater Ordinance for Mobile

New stormwater ordinance ‘adds teeth’ to enforcement

The city introduced its new stormwater management ordinance to the City Council’s Public Service Committee Tuesday.

The ordinance, which is the centerpiece of a settlement between Mobile and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, will be introduced to the full council for a vote July 8.

The city worked with Payne Environmental Services to develop an ordinance adding teeth to enforcement and making it easier for inspectors to evaluate construction sites to deal with concerns over runoff.

“The intent of the ordinance is to allow the city to do the inspections it needs to do,” said Randy Payne, owner of Payne Environmental Services. “We can’t determine if they meet our requirements unless we can inspect them.”

The ordinance splits construction sites seeking land disturbance permits into two groups, those of less than an acre, or Tier 2, or those of more than one acre, or Tier 1.

Under the new requirements, Tier 1 sites must secure a bond with the city in order to secure a permit. Then, the site is inspected and if it complies with the requirements, the bond is released.

Once construction is finished on a Tier 1 site, the property owner must maintain the requirements, report and keep records.

New requirements for commercial, industrial and high-risk facilities include: Implementation and maintenance of best management practices to reduce pollution in stormwater. They must also copy the city on any future permit submittals to ADEM.

As part of the best management practices listed in the ordinance, catch basins and drains should be inspected and maintained regularly, litter should be removed daily, dumpster areas should be kept clean and leaves should be swept or vacuumed, not put down drains.

Sand, motor oil, leaves, garbage and pool water are examples of illicit discharges; while power washing, firefighting, car washing and landscape watering are exceptions.

The ordinance also opens up other forms of punishment for violators, said Assistant City Attorney Florence Kessler. In addition to municipal criminal court, the city will also have the option to take civil action against violators.

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