Environmental permits are required to be in compliance with the environmental regulations set by the agencies in the U.S. and must be obtained before a project begins construction or a facility begins operation, where applicable. Permit application requirements and review timeframes vary from agency to agency so it is important that you begin the permit application as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary delays. For city activities, the Environmental Resources Management Division works across city departments to provide permitting assistance and ensure every activity is properly permitted, as well as maintains compliance with its applicable permits.
An example of a permit that the division oversees is the city’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The NPDES permit allows for municipal stormwater discharges as long as they meet water quality standards and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) that reduce pollutants to the “Maximum Extent Practicable”. We are one of 30+ co-permittees under Miami-Dade County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) NPDES permit. An MS4 is a dedicated sewer system that collects stormwater throughout the city, and conveys it out, untreated to the local waterways. This system is separate from the sewer system that carries sewage from buildings to a wastewater treatment plant before discharging the water into the ocean. Since the MS4 outfalls are untreated, it is important to keep the stormwater as clean as possible to keep our waterways clean for the residents. This is where the NPDES permit comes into play.
While we share one NPDES permit with other communities within Biscayne Bay watershed, each co-permittee is required to develop and employ their own tailored stormwater management program to ensure their respective compliance with the provisions of our NPDES permit. Miami Beach contains about 300 out of the 8,000 total outfalls throughout Miami-Dade County. The Best Management Practices (BMPs) we implement in Miami Beach include education and outreach, good housekeeping, water quality monitoring, as well as the use of cutting edge equipment and industry-vetted operational practices. Together these elements reduce the pollutants that can be picked up by stormwater throughout our city and trap and remove a large percentage of those pollutants within our stormwater system. The city takes an active approach in keeping its stormwater management plan up to date to reflect the best available data and science when implementing new technologies/practices to improve stormwater quality. Each co-permittee is required to submit an NPDES Annual Report detailing the activities conducted under their stormwater management program, their anticipated success at preventing stormwater pollution, and justifying any decreases in stormwater pollution prevention efforts. In the State of Florida, this report is submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as this agency has delegated authority from the EPA to implement the program on their behalf.