Storm Water Management


Clean Water Program

Introduction to Storm Water

Introduction to Stormwater

Chesapeake Bay DrainageStormwater is any precipitation, such as rain and snowmelt, or runoff from land, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces. In undeveloped areas, stormwater infiltrates the ground and replenishes aquifers, is absorbed by plants, or meanders through the landscape to surface waters. In developed areas, impervious surfaces, such as roof tops, parking lots, walkways, and roads prevent stormwater from infiltrating the ground. As stormwater cascades over these surfaces, it can become contaminated with oil and grease, fertilizer, trash, salt, sediment, and other pollutants before it flows into storm drains and surface waters. Stormwater runoff does not go through a water treatment plant; instead, the contaminated water rushes directly into our waterways where it can increase flooding and erosion, impair water quality, and threaten aquatic life.

Pipe near waterStormwater management and pollution prevention are critical to improving the quality of our nation’s surface waters. Locally, stormwater runoff is the leading cause of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, the largest, most biologically diverse estuary in the United States.

Goddard is located within two watersheds that feed into the Bay: the Anacostia and Patuxent rivers. To minimize the impact of our activities on local surface waters, and, ultimately the Bay, Goddard has developed a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the Greenbelt campus, which prescribes best management practices (BMPs), such as good housekeeping, visual inspections, and preventive maintenance, to reduce or eliminate our stormwater pollution impacts and improve the quality of our stormwater.

 

Regulatory Drivers

Regulatory Drivers

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the Federal legislation that governs stormwater management at Goddard. The CWA was enacted in 1972 “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters” (33 U.S.C. 1251). In 1987, the CWA was amended with Section 402(p) to create a national program, to be implemented in two phases, for managing stormwater discharges. Phase I (1990) requires operators of facilities that discharge stormwater associated with certain industrial activities to obtain a permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program to control the quality of these discharges. Phase II (1999) requires operators of Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) to create and enforce a stormwater management program to reduce the pollutants in stormwater discharges.

 

GSFC’s Stormwater Permit Requirements

GSFC’s Stormwater Permit Requirements

GSFC holds an individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and a NPDES General Permit for Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). GSFC’s NPDES permit, issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), requires the Center to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan, which describes practices to be used to reduce the pollutants in stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity. GSFC’s MS4 requires the Center to develop and implement best management practices (BMPs) and achieve measurable goals in six defined areas of Public Education and Outreach, Public Involvement and Participation, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control, Post Construction Management, and Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping. When implemented together, these control measures reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater runoff discharged into local receiving waters.

The GSFC-Greenbelt Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

The GSFC-Greenbelt Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

Goddard’s SWPPP is a compliance document that lists and describes activities at GSFC that are subject to the stormwater regulations. The Plan identifies potential sources of pollution to stormwater discharges, and provides best management practices (BMPs) designed to prevent, control, or minimize the potential for pollution from these sources.

The primary requirements of the SWPPP are to:

  • Implement the practices identified in the SWPPP and amend the plan as necessary;
  • Define responsibilities for employees whose work is associated with any of the activities identified in the SWPPP;
  • Conduct visual inspections and maintain records of inspections;
  • Conduct an annual Comprehensive Site Compliance Evaluation; and
  • Conduct employee training on the contents of the SWPPP. (Online training is available on the System for Administration, Training, and Educational Resources for NASA (SATERN).


The SWPPP is considered a public document [per Section 308(b) of the CWA]. Interested parties outside of Goddard may obtain copies of the SWPPP by submitting a written request to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Activities Covered by GSFC-Greenbelt’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

Activities Covered by GSFC-Greenbelt’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

The list below shows GSFC’s areas and activities that are subject to stormwater regulations.

  • Landfills
  • Vehicle Maintenance Facility
  • 90-day Waste Accumulation Facility
  • Central and East Campus Heating and Refrigeration Plants
  • Main Warehouse Loading/Unloading Docks
  • Auto Tech Center (Auto Club)
  • Salt Domes
  • Facilities Management Staging/Storage Area
  • Landscaping Facility
  • Fire Fighting Equipment Maintenance
  • Flushing Domestic Water Distribution Lines
  • Areas Requiring Additional Sediment and Erosion Controls
  • Hydrostatic Testing of Water Tower
  • Emergency and Illicit Discharges


The SWPPP is considered a public document [per Section 308(b) of the CWA]. Interested parties outside of Goddard may obtain copies of the SWPPP by submitting a written request to the Maryland Department of the Environment .

The Stormwater Pollution Prevention Team (SWPPT) and Activity Coordinators

The Stormwater Pollution Prevention Team (SWPPT) and Activity Coordinators

The SWPPT is responsible for the development and implementation of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) at GSFC. It includes the following people:

  • Environmental Manager
  • Water Program Manager;
  • Environmental Support Personnel;
  • Facilities Engineer; and
  • Activity Coordinators.


Activity Coordinators are assigned members from the SWPPT, who work in activities or areas listed in the SWPPP. They are selected based on their knowledge of their area and are responsible for enforcing compliance, conducting inspections and retaining records, reporting incidents, and ensuring the proper implementation of the SWPPP for their particular area.

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) Training

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) Training

All Goddard employees (civil servants and contractors) responsible for the management and oversight of activities monitored under the SWPPP are required to complete Web-based SWPPP Awareness Training on an annual basis. The training is available online via the System for Administration, Training, and Educational Resources for NASA (SATERN).

Employees without SATERN accounts or computer access may request either a PowerPoint version of the training or a live presentation from Code 250 Stormwater Program Manager. A sign-in sheet and completed quizzes will serve as a record of completion for these employees.

Activity Coordinators are responsible for training his/her personnel at the activity level of the contents of the SWPPP training. The SWPPP training includes a minimum of the following:

  • Introduction to the regulations and the permit process;
  • The SWPPP and its goals and components;
  • Implementation of the SWPPP on the activity level;
  • Role of Activity Coordinators; and
  • Inspections, record keeping, and reporting requirements

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Permit

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Permit

An MS4 is a conveyance or system of conveyances that is:

  • Owned by a state, city, town, village, or other public entity that discharges to waters of the U.S.;
  • Designed or used to collect or convey stormwater (including storm drains, pipes, ditches, etc.);
  • Not a combined sewer; and
  • Not part of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (sewage treatment plant).


GSFC holds NPDES General Permit for Discharges from State and Federal Small MS4s, and is required to develop and implement a stormwater management program to reduce the contamination of stormwater runoff and prohibit illicit discharges. Specifically, GSFC’s MS4 permit requires the Center to develop and implement best management practices (BMPs) and achieve measurable goals in six areas:

  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Involvement and Participation
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
  • Post Construction Management
  • Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping

Progress and accomplishments in each of these areas is reported to the Maryland Department of the Environment each year.

Spills

Spills

Releases of petroleum products, antifreeze, or any other harmful substance on our roadways, parking lots, pavement, grass, or directly into our waters is detrimental to our water quality. We take great care to ensure that only stormwater goes down our storm drains into our waterways. However, accidents do happen. All spills, including oil leaks from vehicles traveling on Center (personal and government vehicles) must be reported immediately so that appropriate regulatory reporting and clean up can be accomplished.

Spill Definition

Spill Definition

A reportable release (or spill) is any unpermitted release to the environment (e.g., on the floor, to the air, on the ground, down a drain). You do not have to report a release or spill if ALL of the following are TRUE:

  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Involvement and Participation
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
  • Post Construction Management
  • Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping

How to Report a Spill

How to Report a Spill

In the event of a spill:

  • Protect yourself and those in the vicinity from the release.
  • Call the Security Operations Center (SOC) by dialing 911 from on campus (301-286-9111 from off campus or when using a cell phone) or radio the Facility Operations Center (FOC) from a Goddard-issued radio, if you have one.


When reporting a spill, include the following information:

  • Name, code, and phone number of reporting party
  • Type of emergency (oil leak, fire, chemical spill, etc.)
  • Location of emergency
  • Any injury to personnel
  • Cause of emergency (if known)
  • Type and name of chemical (if known)
  • Estimated quantity and flow rate (if known)
  • If it poses a risk to people/environment
  • If it is contained or controlled
  • If the spill has entered any surface water, storm drains, floor drains, etc.

Who is the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and what do they do?

Who is the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and what do they do?

MDE is the State regulatory agency that was delegated the task of administering and enforcing Federal and State water quality regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency. MDE inspects the Center, issues its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permits [including industrial discharge and Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s)], enforces stormwater and sediment and erosion control regulations, and may issue Notices of Violation and fines if GSFC is not in compliance.

Why does GSFC Greenbelt have to comply with stormwater regulations?

Why does GSFC Greenbelt have to comply with stormwater regulations?

More than 30 years ago, the Clean Water Act (CWA) set goals of making all waters swimmable and fishable and of eliminating discharge of pollutants into the nation’s waterways. These goals have not been met. However, over the years CWA programs have progressed to encompass watershed-based strategies that consider how all elements within an entire watershed are connected and affect water quality. Stormwater runoff is one of the major contributors to impaired water quality in the United States; therefore, addressing its quality and the sources that pollute it is vital to improving and maintaining water quality and the health of the watershed, and to meeting the original goals of the CWA.

Implementing best management practices, such as conducting visual inspections and maintaining good housekeeping procedures reduces or eliminates pollution sources that could impact stormwater and surface water quality. Compliance with Goddard’s stormwater pollution prevention procedures and NPDES permits helps to protect people, aquatic life, and water resources.

What can happen if I don’t comply?

What can happen if I don’t comply?

The Center is regularly inspected by NASA Headquarters and the Maryland Department of the Environment. Instances of non-compliance may be identified and notices of violation and fines could be issued. Uncorrected instances of non-compliance could impair Goddard’s ability to accomplish its mission.

What does GSFC-Greenbelt do to minimize pollution impacts to stormwater?

What does GSFC-Greenbelt do to minimize pollution impacts to stormwater?

Goddard implements pollution control practices to minimize the impact our activities have on streams, rivers, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to pollution prevention measures, such as sediment and erosion controls, hazardous material substitution with less or non-toxic alternatives, and waste minimization, Goddard incorporates Low Impact Development (LID) designs where possible to reduce stormwater volumes and improve water quality. These designs allow the stormwater to be filtered through a natural system, before it runs off into surface waters, and returns it to the water table to recharge ground and surface water. Examples of LID designs implemented at GSFC include bioretention areas/rain gardens, meadows, and vegetative swales.

In 2008, GSFC created a bioretention basin filled with native shrubs and grasses in front of the building 32 parking area. Bioretention basins are landscaped depressions that reduce the velocity of runoff, allow the water to infiltrate the ground, and naturally filter pollutants from surface water runoff.

Goddard has secured “no mow” areas on campus and started replacing them with open meadows. Likewise, trees have been planted in large lawn areas where meadows are not feasible. This can be observed in the lawn area near the parking lot between buildings 16 and 23, as well as to the north and east of building 8.


butterflyFor Earth Day 2009, volunteers installed a rain garden, a type of bioretention area, between building 26 and the Goddard Child Development Center. The garden contains plants native to this area, and is a beautiful example of a LID design that employees can even use at home.

Why should I care?

Why should I care?

Stormwater pollution affects everyone. It impairs our creeks, streams, rivers and other surface bodies of water that we use for drinking water, recreation, and fishing. Polluted water can require increased tests and treatments to create safe drinking water, which means higher costs for the water you use each day for drinking and washing. Stormwater pollution makes surface waters unsuitable for swimming or fishing, and can destroy habitats for aquatic life. Remember: if you do not want to drink it, eat it, or swim in it, keep it out of our stormwater. 

Chesapeake Bay Land Satellite imageA Landsat mosaic of the Chesapeake Bay

What can I do?

What can I do?

As part of Goddard’s efforts to improve local surface waters, we create opportunities for employees to become involved with projects aimed at protecting water quality. Look for activities and volunteer opportunities advertised in Dateline or on the GSFC Intranet. Past outreach activities have included a Center clean-up activity; stenciling "Chesapeake Bay Drainage" on storm drains at GSFC; and a rain garden installation.

There are plenty of things you can do at home as well.

  • Discard used oil, antifreeze, paints, pesticides, and other household chemicals properly. Do not dump them in or near storm drain. Check with your local government to find out about household hazardous waste collection.
  • Keep leaves, yard waste, and litter out of street gutters and storm drains.
  • Use lawn and garden fertilizers and chemicals sparingly. (See our Environmental Bulletin “A Homeowner’s Guide to Lawn Care.”)
  • Don’t leave soil exposed on your property. It will wash away into the storm sewer system. Cover it or plant a ground cover to stabilize it.
  • Do not wash your car in the street or driveway. If you can, take it to a commercial car wash that captures the wastewater. If you must wash your car at home,
    • Wash it on the grass or another permeable surface instead or direct the wastewater to flow to an area that allows infiltration;
    • Use hoses with nozzles that automatically turn off when not in use; and
    • Use only biodegradable soaps that are free of phosphorus to minimize the amount of nutrients discharged into surface waters. (An excess of nutrient-rich phosphorus causes excessive algae growth. When algae decompose, they reduce or eliminate oxygen needed by aquatic life to survive.)