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Stormwater In a Changing World | MS4 Compliance 

This post is the final installment of five articles highlighting stormwater, its impact on our daily lives, and how engineering expertise is applied to mitigate risk while remaining compliant. 

In this five-part stormwater series, we’ve covered planning, funding, design, construction, and more. If you haven’t already, read our first four articles to learn about the challenges and solutions engineers face and implement to protect our communities. 

In our final installment, we are diving deep into MS4 permitting to demystify the permitting process for stormwater management. 

What is MS4? 

MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System. The permit regulates drainage systems owned and operated by local governments and public entities like cities, counties, towns, and watershed districts. MS4 permits aim to limit pollution in stormwater discharged to receiving waters. 

“The MS4 general permit is designed to reduce the amount of sediment and other pollutants entering state waters from stormwater systems.”  

Tara Ostendorf, Moore’s Environmental Team Lead

Cities designated as MS4s by the state must create, enforce, and maintain a stormwater pollution prevention plan to limit contaminants from entering receiving waters from commercial, industrial, municipal, or private development sources. Failing to do so can result in heavy fines.  

MS4s must fulfill the obligations of the MS4 general permit if the system you oversee meets any of the following criteria: being situated in an urbanized area and serving a population of 1,000 or more, being owned by a municipality with a population of 10,000 or more, or having a population of at least 5,000 and discharging to specially classified bodies of water.

Strained Budget. Stressed Staff. 

As we’ve explored in previous blogs, navigating the complicated process of obtaining the right permits and following the right regulations for your particular project is a daunting task – especially for cities with limited budgets and staff. Extensive reporting, documentation, inspections, and data management can thinly stretch limited staff and capital resources. 

“A lot of small cities are required to operate as an MS4, but they don’t have the capacity, technical knowledge, or background to do so.” 

Tara Ostendorf, Moore’s Environmental Team Lead.

An Integrated Approach to MS4 

Whether your MS4 serves a community of 1,000 or 1 Million, keeping your community safe is non-negotiable. Without the right partner, you may find your office knee-deep in paperwork while you simultaneously attempt to understand the complexities of MS4, create and maintain a pollution prevention program, and avoid costly Administrative Penalty Orders (APOs) from the State.  

The majority of the staff at Moore Engineering is from the Midwest, which means we aren’t always comfortable with self-promotion. However, considering the importance of this topic, we’ll try our best: Moore Engineering is the ideal partner for your community.  

Our integrated team helps clients navigate all aspects of MS4 permitting and compliance. We act as an extension of municipal staff to implement best practices that satisfy permit obligations and promote public health. By working closely with a city’s staff, we educate and train personnel so communities can keep up with compliance requirements over the long term.


“Moore Engineering has developed efficient tools that we use for data management. We’ve become very good at understanding a city’s needs as far as staffing, reporting, and permitting.”

Tara Ostendorf, Environmental Team Lead

From Cloud to Drain 

In this five-part stormwater series, we’ve shown Moore Engineering’s comprehensive capabilities and collaborative approach to helping clients of all sizes. From cloud to drain, we tirelessly work to ensure your community stays safe from the worst impacts of stormwater. Our team of seasoned experts has over 60 years of experience guiding clients from initial planning to final construction, maintenance, and reporting.  

Our mission is to “improve lives by building strong communities.” If being committed to public health and safety matters to your community, we would be honored to partner with you. Click here to learn more about Moore Engineering’s history of clients’ success and to get connected with our team.  

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