Salt Lake City

Public Utilities

Customer Service: (801) 483-6900 | Report Emergency: (801) 483-6700

Stormwater Quality and Permitting

Stormwater Quality (SWQ) Program

Stormwater Quality (SWQ) Program

Stormwater Quality Program: Rain and snow-melt runoff, collectively known as stormwater discharge, is a wonderful and valuable resource that provides many environmental and recreational benefits. However, when occurring in an urban area such as Salt Lake City, the quality of this runoff must be protected from the pollutants it often encounters and picks up along the way as it travels down to the nearest storm drain or ditch and ultimately enters a waterbody (stream, canal, river, lake, etc.). In Salt Lake City, such discharges generally enter either the Jordan River, or any number of canals around town, all of which flow to the Great Salt Lake, without receiving any treatment for those potential urban pollutants. The effects of this pollution are far-reaching and can lead to significant degradation of water quality in waterbodies receiving this urban runoff, affecting the plants, animals, and people that depend on good water quality to be able to thrive. There is even a connection (via dust) between the quality of water in the Great Salt Lake and our mountain watersheds that are protected as invaluable sources of drinking water. Our local water cycle is complex and preventing stormwater pollution is vital to maintaining water quality for everyone and everything.

The discharge of stormwater from Salt Lake City to area rivers and canals is formally permitted by the State of Utah with certain requirements, the goal of which is minimizing pollution in those discharges in compliance with the Utah Pollution Discharge Elimination System (UDPES) and the Utah Water Quality Act. Through this permitting system, a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit (UTS000002) has been issued to Salt Lake City for many years and renewed as recently as June of 2021. The City has a long-established SWQ Program which follows a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) that was developed internally, revised with each permit cycle, and implemented to meet the requirements of the City’s stormwater permit. The SWMP is based on a series of Minimum Control Measures (MCMs), which are MS4 Permit requirements that collectively protect water quality through education, involvement, pollution incident investigations, inspections, enforcement, municipal good housekeeping, and dry and wet weather monitoring. Authority to comply with the MS4 permit by enforcing and regulating discharges into the MS4 is provided by the SLC Stormwater Ordinance. The following MCM information is provided for residents, businesses, developers, and other stakeholders to have access to current SWQ program details, including educational and permitting authority documentation.

For additional information or guidance about stormwater matters, please send an email to stormwaterquality@slcgov.com or contact (801) 483-6729. Other contact information for coordinators of each MCM are provided below.

**Click on an Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) to find out more about how Salt Lake City addresses each permit requirement with the help of our residents, businesses, and partners.**

Public Outreach and Education on Stormwater Impacts

Public Outreach and Education on Stormwater Impacts

Public Outreach and Education: Salt Lake City administers a stormwater pollution prevention education and outreach program for the residents, businesses, developers, and other stakeholders that make up our thriving community. The City is also a member of the Salt Lake County Stormwater Coalition, a group focused on education and outreach comprised of all cities in Salt Lake County, since water quality and quantity issues are larger than any one entity, agency, or jurisdiction. It is primarily through education that perceptions, practices, priorities, and passions are altered so that the protection of water quality can continue to be a shared goal for everyone. To that end, our City takes part in multiple outreach events through the year at various festivals and community gatherings in which we spread the message that we all have a part to play in preventing stormwater pollution and there are things we can all do to help. If you know of an event that would be a good opportunity to have us come out and talk to people about water quality and stormwater-related issues, please email stormwaterquality@slcgov.com and let us know. We also do presentations for schools and science fairs, coordinate activities for kids and adults (we have watershed models that are available for such events) and are happy to participate in organized conferences and symposiums. Anything to spread the message! For our educational program, some topics of note are listed below:

Maintaining and Managing our Stormwater System

  • Stormwater management is essential in reducing localized flooding, and it improves water quality in our streams and lakes. Public Utilities has built and maintains an intricate storm drain system throughout the City. We routinely clean these drains and monitor for storm drain pollution from contaminated runoff from streets, sidewalks, businesses, yards, and gutters.
  • We also educate the public on keeping toxic and hazardous materials from running into storm drains and ultimately harming our water. It’s a fact: We all live downstream!

Storm Drains – Where does the Water and Debris go?

  • Stormwater systems can be found throughout Salt Lake City and include ditches, catch basins, curbs, underground pipes, ponds, swales, and dry wells. These structures carry stormwater to outfalls on local rivers or allow the stormwater to drain into the ground.  Contaminants discharged into stormwater systems can pollute surface waters as well as ground water.
  • Download this brochure for more information: Storm Drains: Do you Know Were the Water and Debris Goes?

How does Stormwater Quality Affect you?

  • Protection of our Stormwater Quality helps provide these benefits to residents:
    • Preventing flooding of personal property and/or damage to public infrastructure, including roads.
    • Minimizing foul odors and maintaining aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods.
    • Keeping our rivers, lakes, & streams clean.
    • Strengthening our economy by offering healthy recreational opportunities.
  • Visit the Salt Lake County Stormwater Coalition for more information at: https://stormwatercoalition.org/

Tips and Tricks to Help us Protect Water Quality

  • Use fertilizers sparingly and sweep up driveways, sidewalks, and gutters
  • Never dump anything down storm drains or in streams
  • Compost your yard waste
  • Clean trash and debris out of the curb area
  • Use least toxic pesticides, follow labels, and learn how to prevent pest problems without pesticides
  • Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces; consider directing it towards your garden
  • Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in the driveway
  • Check your car for leaks and recycle your automotive fluids
  • Clean up after your pet(s)

Public Service Announcements

Contact

Public Involvement and Participation

Public Involvement and Participation

Public Involvement/Participation: Salt Lake City encourages the participation and involvement of its residents, businesses, and other stakeholders in the prevention of stormwater pollution and stewardship of our shared water resources. Public participation and involvement opportunities are a great way for people to feel some responsibility and sense of ownership over the quantity and quality of stormwater discharges from our city, solidifying a bond between residents, and local/state governments. Some opportunities of note are listed below:

Involvement Opportunities

  • MS4 Permit Renewal: The City’s MS4 Permit is renewed every 5 years by the State of Utah, which was most recently renewed in June of 2021. During the 5-year renewals there is a public comment period that allows for the involvement of the public in determining what will be included as a permit requirement for the next 5 years. Salt Lake City encourages residents and stakeholders to submit comments to the State at any time but particularly during the comment period so that our collective water quality protection needs are addressed. Go to the State’s website for more information: https://deq.utah.gov/water-quality/municipal-separate-storm-sewer-system-ms4s-permits-updes-permits. Comments can also be submitted to the city by emailing stormwaterquality@slcgov.com; upon consideration, these will be incorporated into the City’s comments.
  • SWMP Development/Revision: While the City’s MS4 Permit dictates what must be done to remain in compliance with our permit, in many cases the decision of how to accomplish those things is left to the City during the development (and annual review/update) of the SWMP. As a city, we welcome the input of our residents and stakeholders in ensuring the SWMP meets permit requirements in a manner that is most widely effective and equitable. Public comments can be sent to stormwaterquality@slcgov.com and all will be considered.

Participation Opportunities

  • Salt Lake CITY Public Utilities “Adopt A Storm Drain” Program: A volunteer program that protects water quality and minimizes localized flooding, where people register to adopt a specific storm drain (or multiple drains, if willing) and commit to keeping that inlet free from trash, debris, chemicals and other waste through the bi-weekly cleaning of the surface of the drain and adjacent curbs, gutters, and sidewalks: https://www.slc.gov/utilities/adoptastormdrain/.
  • Salt Lake City Public Lands Volunteer Program: Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands offers multiple volunteer opportunities that protect water quality, from park and waterway clean-ups, to tree plantings and neighborhood clean-ups. They even have an “Adopt-a-Spot” program for those able to combine efforts as a group and commit to continued stewardship roles: https://www.slc.gov/parks/trails-natural-lands/volunteer/.

Contact

Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control

Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control

Construction Stormwater Permitting: Salt Lake City administers a permitting system (called “City Discharge Permits”) for regulating certain construction sites which have a large potential for discharging pollutants during land disturbance and construction activities. Education, compliance, and protecting downstream water quality are the main goals of this system, which mirrors the UPDES stormwater discharge permits for construction and meets the standards set forth by the (federal) Clean Water Act and (state) Utah Water Quality Act. State (UPDES) construction stormwater permits are required when a project is at least 1-acre in disturbance or part of a Common Plan of Development (CPoD) or sale that will ultimately disturb at least 1-acre of land. City permits have a similar threshold for large sites, but the City has instituted more stringent thresholds for permitting of City Projects (at least 0.2-acres) and certain Private Projects (at least 0.2-acres if in one of our high-profile areas: Downtown, Sugarhouse, South Glendale).

To comply with permit requirements for those projects, a Stormwater Pollution Prevent Plan (SWPPP) must be developed and reviewed/approved by the City prior to ground disturbance and permit issuance. Ongoing permit compliance is required and involves inspections, corrections, documentation, and good housekeeping. Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities enforces those permit requirements to protect downstream water resources and maintain the integrity and functionality of our storm sewer system. The planning and permitting functions of this program are handled through the Public Utilities Development Review Division (PUDevServ@slcgov.com, 801-483-6727). In addition to the SWPPP and City/State stormwater discharge permits, sites that are >0.25acres in disturbance must obtain a Fugitive Dust Control Permit through the State and implement a plan to address fugitive dust on their site. The following links contain current permitting information and forms:

Dewatering Permits: Water that is pumped into the storm sewer system (or directly to waterbodies) from surface depressions or ground excavations during construction, or from areas contaminated by historic land-uses such as gas stations and dry cleaners, are required to obtain a State (UPDES) Construction Dewatering or Treated Groundwater permit as well as a City Discharge Permit for Dewatering Activities. Education, compliance, and protecting downstream water quality are the main goals of this system, which mirrors the UPDES dewatering discharge permits and meets the standards set forth by the (federal) Clean Water Act and (state) Utah Water Quality Act. The purpose of these permits is to ensure that those discharges do not contaminate or negatively affect downstream water resources.

To comply with permit requirements for these activities, a Dewatering Control Plan (DCP) must be developed and reviewed/approved by the City prior to dewatering and permit issuance. Ongoing permit compliance is required and involves inspections, corrections, documentation, discharge quality/quantity sampling and monitoring, reporting, and good housekeeping. Dewatering permits are processed, reviewed, issued, and regulated by the Stormwater Quality team (stormwaterquality@slcgov.com, 801-483-6729). The following links contain current permitting information and forms:

Contact

  • Questions regarding the Construction Runoff Control Program may be directed to the following team members:
  • Questions regarding the Dewatering Discharge Control Program may be directed to the following team members:

Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping: This portion of the City’s SWQ Program is focused internally on city Operations and Maintenance (O&M) activities. Much of the great work being done by the City in all facets of our duties to the public requires good stewardship and standard procedures to prevent pollution. The City recognizes that we must be a leading example of the spirit and practice of stormwater pollution prevention, not only because our permit says that we must but also because there are so many ways that our O&M activities have the potential to affect water quality. It is that understanding, as well as the progressive attitudes and commitment (towards environmental stewardship and protection) of our City government and Departmental leadership, that pushes our city to strive for continued excellence in all that we do.

Permit requirements for this MCM involve standardized procedures for pollution prevention in all O&M activities, inventory and prioritization of all city owned/operated facilities, BMPs (both structural and non-structural) to prevent pollution, inspections and stormwater monitoring at prioritized facilities, spill/leak response and mitigation plans, a plan to inventory all internal floor drains at City facilities to ensure they discharge to the sanitary sewer instead of the storm sewer, and a training program to ensure that all new employees receive guidance on pollution prevention in their tasks and that every employee whose duties have the potential to affect water quality receive regular refreshers on how to be the best environmental stewards possible.

Industrial & High-Risk Runoff

Industrial & High-Risk Runoff

Industrial & High-Risk Runoff: The Industrial portion of this program refers to stormwater discharges from industrial facilities in specific sectors (identifiable by SIC Code) which are required by law to obtain (state) UPDES Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) stormwater permit coverage; these sectors are identified in the MSGP permit (see General Information) and includes such facilities as manufacturing facilities, mining operations, landfills, steam electric plants, automotive recyclers, waste and metal recycling, larger wastewater treatment plants, transportation facilities, hazardous waste treatment, storage, disposal and recovery facilities, facilities that have reported under the requirements of EPCRA Title 3, Section 313, among a multitude of other applicable sectors, and any other industrial or commercial discharge which the Public Utilities Director determines is contributing a substantial pollutant loading to the MS4.

Salt Lake City administers a permitting system for regulating these industrial sites. Education, compliance, and protecting downstream water quality are the main goals of this system, which mirrors the UPDES stormwater discharge permits and meets the standards set forth by the (federal) Clean Water Act and (state) Utah Water Quality Act. State MSGP permit coverage is required when a facility falls into one of the sectors covered by the MSGP, and Salt Lake City requires these UPDES permittees to obtain a City Discharge Permit for Industrial Activities when a state permit is obtained. To comply with permit requirements for those facilities, a Stormwater Pollution Prevent Plan (SWPPP) must be developed and reviewed/approved by the City prior to initiation of industrial activities and permit issuance. Ongoing permit compliance is required and involves inspections, corrections, documentation, stormwater quality discharge monitoring (for certain sectors), and general good housekeeping. Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities enforces those permit requirements to protect downstream water resources and maintain the integrity and functionality of our storm sewer system. Industrial permits are received, reviewed, issued, and regulated by the Stormwater Quality team (stormwaterquality@slcgov.com, (801) 483-6800. The following links contain current permitting information and forms:

High-Risk Runoff refers to stormwater discharges from other commercial facilities that may not have otherwise been required to obtain state permit coverage but still have a potential to affect water quality from their operations. Often times this portion of the program is limited to targeted outreach and education – to minimize the potential for stormwater pollution through shared knowledge and experience – as well as Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) investigations should a spill or illicit discharge occur at a facility. Egregious or continued violations of city ordinances and state water quality standards will result in businesses being required to obtain Industrial Stormwater Permit coverage through the City. A useful tool for assessing pollution potential at businesses is the City-required Commercial and Industrial User Questionnaire (CIUQ) form which is submitted by businesses during new/renewed business licensing efforts; these forms are reviewed by Public Utilities staff to determine if a business is subject to industrial stormwater permitting, or if there is a significant potential to affect water quality. Additionally, per requirements of the City’s MS4 Permit, two commercial categories are selected each year for targeted outreach. Some topics of note, and the annual targeted commercial categories (with associated outreach material), are provided below:

Contact

  • Please direct questions related to Industrial and High-Risk Runoff Control to the following team members:

Long-Term (Post-Construction) Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment

Long-Term (Post-Construction) Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment

Long-Term (Post-Construction): Urbanization and development causes major changes to the hydrology of a landscape as natural lands are converted to constructed environments which are paved-over or built-upon, creating impervious surfaces that no longer allow water to infiltrate into the ground to be used by plants and evapotranspire into the atmosphere, recharge groundwater resources, or slowly discharge to streams and rivers. Instead, stormwater hits these surfaces, picks up and carries urban pollutants towards the nearest storm drain or water body, and then rapidly runs off with greater speed and volume than the receiving stream or river has naturally evolved to convey. This creates major structural problems for stream channels and biological communities, introduces many pollutants to these waters, and contributes to flash flooding. Salt Lake City Public Utilities administers a program for inventorying and regulating the installation of post-construction stormwater Best Management Practices (both Public and Private) that are designed to protect water quality and aquatic resources by attempting to more closely mimic the natural hydrologic processes that have been so affected by urbanization/development, and provide some kind of treatment to remove pollutants, where possible. The City’s inventory and inspections requirements of this program are handled by Public Utilities’ GIS Division and includes all such BMPs installed in the City; however, it is the individual property owners who are required to inspect and maintain those privately owned BMPs on a regular basis to ensure they are functional and not contributing to water quality degradation.

Ultimately, the Post-Construction program that is required by MS4 permit includes only construction projects that were built (or redeveloped) after 2011 and were either 1-acre (or more) in disturbance, or part of a Common Plan of Development (or sale) that would eventually disturb at least 1-acre of land. Another important MS4 permit requirement satisfied by this program is for the retention (where feasible) of the 80th percentile storm event from these (applicable) sites, and the consideration and implementation of Low Impact Development (LID) practices that mimic the natural, pre-development hydrology and treat/minimize stormwater pollution. The City has developed a Standard Practices Manual for the design, selection, implementation, and maintenance of post-construction BMPs; developers and engineers are required to select BMPs whenever a site meets specific thresholds/criteria (as detailed in the manual).

Contact

  • Please direct questions related to the City’s Long-Term (Post-Construction) Stormwater Management Program to stormwaterquality@slcgov.com, or reach out to the following members of our team:
  • Please direct questions related to the Stormwater Utility Program (including stormwater fee reduction program) to the following member of our team:

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE)

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE)

IDDE: Illicit discharges are defined as any discharge to a storm sewer (or waterbody) that is not composed entirely of stormwater except discharges pursuant to a UPDES Permit. There are certain allowable non-stormwater discharges that are not considered illicit, per the City’s MS4 permit, such as:

  • Water line flushing;
  • Landscape irrigation;
  • Diverted stream flows;
  • Rising ground waters;
  • Uncontaminated ground water infiltration;
  • Uncontaminated pumped ground water;
  • Discharges from potable water sources;
  • Foundation drains;
  • Air conditioning condensate;
  • Irrigation water;
  • Springs;
  • Water from crawl space pumps;
  • Footing drains;
  • Lawn watering runoff;
  • Individual residential car washing;
  • Flows from riparian habitats and wetlands;
  • Dechlorinated residential swimming pool discharges;
  • Residual street wash water;
  • Dechlorinated water reservoir discharges; and
  • Discharges or flows from emergency firefighting activity;

However, great care must be taken to prevent the discharge (or dumping) of anything but stormwater and groundwater (where applicable) to the storm sewer system. Even allowable discharges, such as residential car washing and dechlorinated residential pool draining, can be a water quality concern if other factors come into play (amount, duration, product toxicity, etc.) so it is best to minimize discharges from those as well.

The City’s SWQ Program addresses illicit discharges through prohibition (by ordinance) of improper waste disposal, dry weather screening of the points at which the storm sewer meets a waterbody (called “outfalls”), prioritization of certain areas that are more likely to have illicit discharges and then more frequent inspections of those priority areas, and ultimately investigations of reported pollution incidents to ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable and (where possible) the discharged pollutants are either captured, mitigated, or prevented from occurring again.

Contact

  • Please direct questions related to Illicit Discharge Detection and EliminationProgram to the following members of our team:
  • If you have observed pollution that has entered a storm drain or water body, or has the potential to enter a storm drain or water body, please contact the following:
    • Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Dispatch, (801) 483-6700
    • Salt Lake County Health Department Dispatch, (801) 580-6681

Dry Weather Screening (DWS)

Dry Weather Screening (DWS)

DWS: As a component of the City’s IDDE program, dry weather screening involves the inspection of outfalls (places where the storm sewer system discharges directly into area rivers/canals) during dry weather to identify flows that would not otherwise be expected to be there since it is during a period of no rain. If flow is discovered, then an investigation is completed to determine if the flowing water is considered illicit. Illicit discharges discovered during dry weather screening are defined as a storm drain that has measurable flow during dry weather and contains pollutants and/or pathogens. (A storm drain with measurable flow but containing no pollutants is simply considered a discharge, and is often related to groundwater discharges through sump pumps from foundation drains or from flowing canals/springs.) Whenever a flowing outfall is discovered, and it is found to contain pollutants/pathogens, the flow is traced back to its source and eliminated through education and enforcement.

Contact

  • Please direct questions related to the Dry Weather Screening program to the following members of our team:

Wet Weather Monitoring (WWM)

Wet Weather Monitoring (WWM)

WWM: The city is required by permit to conduct monitoring and sampling of stormwater runoff that discharges from the City into area waterbodies. The purpose of this monitoring is to identify pollutants of concern so that the City can make informed decisions to target the sources of those pollutants. Additionally, this monitoring produces data that is used to quantify (estimate) the amount of certain types of pollutants that are washed off the City with each rain event; this is useful for showing progress over time and for visualizing just how much pollution is discharged from the City each year (which can be quite a lot). The monitoring program includes flow monitoring equipment at specific outfalls that drain areas that are representative of various land-uses throughout the city (residential, mixed-use, commercial/industrial). This flow monitoring is essential for estimating pollutants loads when a sample is grabbed during wet weather: when we know how much water passed through a system, and how polluted it was, we can estimate how much pollution is discharged during a rain event. The sampling portion of the program is conducted during rain events in 2 parts: (1) grab samples are taken directly from the flowing outfall during the early part of the rain event (known as the first flush) in which pollutant loads are at their greatest, and (2) composite samples are collected over the course of the rain event using an automatic sampler (machine) that is designed to collect a certain amount of sample over a specified time period and repeated until all samples are taken; these samples are later composited into one bottle by combining portions of each sample that are proportional to the amount of flow that was occurring during that sample’s portion of the rain event (known as flow-weighted compositing). Since these events occur at random times and can be obscured by snow, the monitoring is conducted in the Spring and Fall seasons, often afterhours (overnight), and involves a great deal of coordination and execution to get the job done. The analysis of these samples are taken to an area laboratory and the data is compiled and reported in the City’s Annual Report (as required by MS4 permit).

Contact

  • Please direct questions related to the Wet Weather Monitoring Program to the following members of our team:

Salt Lake City Stormwater Management Documents