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MS4 Permit Program


Background: The Santa Fe Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Program

 Youthworks! crew applies Only Rain in the Drain markers and collects GPS points 
Youthworks! crew applies Only Rain in the Drain markers
and collects GPS points.

Stormwater runoff is a leading source of water pollution. As stormwater runoff flows to the storm drain system it flows over land and impervious areas including sidewalks, streets, driveways, and parking lots picking up pollutants left on the ground such as oils, trash, and pet waste. This runoff flows into our arroyos and eventually into the Santa Fe River and which can harm the waterways, thereby discouraging recreational use of the resource, contaminating drinking water supplies, and interfering with the habitat for fish, other aquatic organisms, and wildlife.

In 1972, Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, otherwise known as the Clean Water Act, to restore and maintain the quality of the nation’s waterways. The ultimate goal was to ensure that rivers and streams were fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.

As part of the Clean Water Act, in 1990 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Program, under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program. The MS4 program requires permittees to implement a stormwater management program as a means to control polluted stormwater discharges. The Phase I MS4 program affected urbanized areas, as defined by the US Census Bureau, with populations of 100,000 or greater. In NM, only the Albuquerque area qualified under this criteria. In 1999, EPA expanded the program to Phase II, which included urbanized areas with populations between 50,000 to 100,000. The current Phase II Permit was issued in 2007, and a new Permit is expected later this year. The Santa Fe urbanized area is covered under Phase II of the MS4 permit program and the permittees include the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, and NM Department of Transportation District 5.

Under the MS4 Permit, each permittee must develop and implement a comprehensive Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP). The SWWP currently consists of six program components known as minimum control measures (MCMs) that must be implemented.

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

The SWMP includes pollution prevention measures, a stormwater ordinance, inspections and enforcement, and other methods to control the discharge of pollutants from stormwater to our waterways. The Santa Fe permittees are working cooperatively to meet the requirements of the MS4 Permit and to minimize the pollution our stormwater runoff carries to our waterways.

This web page includes links to documents and information that are part of the Santa Fe MS4’s efforts to minimize pollution from stormwater runoff.

City of Santa Fe Storm Water Hotline (505) 955-5644

Related Links

City of Santa Fe Annual MS4 Report:


Melissa McDonald, RLA
River and Watershed Coordinator
City of Santa Fe Public Works Department
Office: 505-955-6840
[bot protected email address]

Learn more about the Streets & Drainage Maintenance Division »




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