Storm Water ... Keep It Clean!

Information presented in this publication is intended to provide a general understanding of the statutory and regulatory requirements governing storm water. This information is not intended to replace, limit or expand upon the complete statutory and regulatory requirements found in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and Title 35 of the Illinois Administrative Code. 

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Why is Storm Water a Concern?

Storm water runoff is rain water and snow melt that runs off the land and enters streams, rivers, and lakes. Storm water runoff can contain toxic chemicals, oil and grease, pesticides, metals, and other contaminants that are a major source of water pollution and that can pose a threat to public health and the environment. Small businesses can do their part to protect our waters by taking steps to prevent storm water pollution. To protect our water resources, many small businesses are required by the Illinois EPA to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and to develop Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPP.) This fact sheet will help you determine whether you need an NPDES permit, highlight requirements for developing a SWPP Plan, and highlight ways to reduce pollution runoff from your property.

What is an NPDES Permit?

NPDES permits regulate wastewater discharges, such as storm water, into the waters of the United States. In general, the permit sets limitations on what can be discharged to a lake or stream, typically for a period of five years.

Do I Need an NPDES Permit for My Storm Water Discharge?

Certain businesses may require an NPDES permit for stormwater discharge. These business identified by the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code, include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Paper producers
  • Chemical producers
  • Lumber and wood producers
  • Leather tanning and finishing industries
  • Stone, clay, glass, and concrete producers such as quarries
  • Fabricated metal producers except machinery and transportation equipment
  • Mineral industries and landfills
  • Materials recyclers such as junkyards and metal scrap yards
  • Transportation facilities that have vehicle maintenance shops and equipment cleaning
  • Construction operations, including clearing, grading, and excavating more than 5 acres

Manufacturing facilities only require an NPDES storm water permit if material handling equipment or activities, raw materials, wastes, or industrial machinery are exposed to storm water. If you are one of these facilities, you may be able to avoid the need for an NPDES permit by preventing exposure of your equipment, wastes and materials to storm water; and filing a No Exposure Certification with the Illinois EPA. For more information, call the Illinois EPA at the phone number listed on Page 4 or see the What is Phase II of the NPDES Storm Water fact Sheet. To obtain a no exposure certification, contact the Illinois EPA. 

If your business performs construction activities, please see the Storm Water Management for construction Activities fact sheet or contact the office of Small Business for more information.

How Do I Obtain an NPDES Permit?

To obtain an NPDES permit, you must submit an Illinois EPA Notice of Intent (NOI) form, which may require sampling data from your storm water discharge, to the Illinois EPA Division of Water Pollution Control Permit Section.

What is a SWPP Plan?

Notice on Local Requirements!

Some municipalities and counties have additional local requirements for storm water discharges. For more information on requirements in your area, contact your local government agency or the Illinois EPA.

You must develop a SWPP Plan before submitting the NOI. SWPP Plans identify potential sources of pollution that may affect the quality of storm water discharges at your business. The plan also describes and ensures the implementation of best management practices (BMP), which reduce the pollutants in your storm water discharges. The five major steps in developing a SWPP Plan include the following:

  1. Planning and organization
  2. Source assessment
  3. BMP selection
  4. SWPP Plan implementation
  5. SWPP Plan evaluation

These 5 steps are described in more detail below.


What are My Planning and Organization Requirements?

To initiate the development of your SWPP Plan, you should

  • Form a pollution prevention team that will develop, implement, maintain, and revise your SWPP Plan when necessary
  • Review existing environmental management plans that your business may have and determine which, if any, sections of these plans can be used to develop your SWPP Plan


What are My Source Assessment Requirements?

To identify potential sources of pollutants to your storm water discharges, you should

  • Create a map of your facility to locate pollutant sources, such as waste or raw material storage areas, and determine storm water management opportunities
  • Conduct an inventory of the types of materials that are handled, stored, or processed at your facility
  • Provide a list of spills and leaks of toxic or hazardous waste that have occurred from your facility in the past 3 years
  • Test or evaluate non-storm water discharges that are discharged to a storm sewer, ditch, or stream. Examples of non-storm water discharges include water used directly in the manufacturing process (process water) and vehicle wash water
  • Collect or evaluate existing storm water sampling data
  • Summarize the findings of your assessment to help determine opportunities to address sources of storm water pollution


What are My Best Management Practices Selection Requirements?

Proper BMPs must be selected to address sources of storm water pollution. SWPP Plans typically include the following BMPs:

  • Good housekeeping
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Visual inspections
  • Spill prevention and response
  • Sediment and erosion prevention
  • Traditional storm water management practices
  • Employee training

Examples of each of these BMPs are provided below. For more information on BMPs, contact the Illinois EPA.

What are Good Housekeeping Practices?

Good housekeeping involves maintaining a clean, orderly work area. Examples of good housekeeping practices include the following:

  • Improving operation and maintenance of facility machinery and processes to prevent leaks and spills
  • Implementing careful material storage practices
  • Maintaining an up-to-date material inventory
  • Scheduling routine cleanup operations

What are Preventive Maintenance Practices?

Preventive maintenance practices include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Inspections and maintenance of storm water management devices such as retention basins and oil-water separators
  • Routine inspections of facility operations to detect faulty equipment before fluid leaks occur
  • Regular checks of equipment such as tanks, containers, and drums for signs of deterioration

What are Visual Inspection Practices?

Visual inspection practices should include the following:

  • Designating qualified and trained plant personnel to regularly inspect your facility's equipment and areas, track inspection results, make necessary changes, and maintain records of all inspections
  • Ensuring that inspection records note when inspections were done, who conducted the inspections, areas inspected, problems found, and steps taken to correct any problems

What are Spill Prevention and Response Practices?

Examples of spill prevention and response practices include the following:

  • Identifying areas where significant materials can spill into or enter your storm water discharge systems
  • Ensuring that employees are aware of emergency response procedures, including material handling and storage
  • Ensuring that appropriate spill cleanup equipment is accessible

What are Sediment and Erosion Prevention Practices?

Sediment and erosion prevention practices are methods for limiting areas at your facility that have a high potential for significant soil and sediment erosion. These practices may include covering areas that have recently been excavated.

What are Traditional Storm Water Management Practices?


BMPs make good business sense for small businesses whether or not you are required to obtain an NPDES permit. Do your part -- help protect human health and the environment by initiating BMPs at your business.

Traditional storm water management practices include the following:

  • Covering fueling operations and materials manufacturing and storage areas to prevent contact with storm water
  • Containing pollutant storage areas with berms or other containment devices to prevent leaks and spills from storm water
  • Using oil-water separators, booms, skimmers or other methods to minimize oil-contaminated storm water discharges
  • Reducing debris and sediment in storm water discharges with screens, booms, or detention ponds
  • Diverting storm water away from areas of potential storm water contamination


What are My SWPP Plan Implementation Requirements?

To implement your SWPP Plan, you must

  • Implement the storm water BMPs that you selected
  • Develop a training program to educate your employees about the components and goals of your SWPP Plan and BMPs


What are My SWPP Plan Evaluation Requirements?

To keep your SWPP Plan up-to-date, you must

  • Conduct compliance evaluations at least once a year
  • Revise your SWPP Plan based on major changes in design, construction, operation, or maintenance at your facility
  • Maintain records of spills, leaks, inspections, and maintenance activities

Do I have any Special Requirements?

In addition to the SWPP Plan requirements, your business may be subject to additional "special" requirements. Special requirements apply to businesses that

  • Discharge storm water through municipal separate storm sewer systems
  • Are subject to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, Section 313, reporting requirements
  • Manage salt storage piles

Do I have any Reporting Requirements?

Businesses that have an NPDES storm water permit are required to submit annually a one-page form that describes your annual facility inspection, which identifies any spills and releases that may have occurred during that year. This form can be obtained from the Illinois EPA.

Where do I go for more Information?

For more information on NPDES permits or developing SWPP Plans, please call the Illinois EPA Division of Water Pollution Control Permit Section at (217) 782-0610 or the Office of Small Business toll-free at (888) EPA-1996.