Urban storm water runoff is a major contributor to the nation's degraded waters. Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a program requiring communities to obtain permits and implement activities to control storm water pollution. EPA's Phase I regulations (1990) applied to communities with populations of 100,000 or more, and its Phase II regulations (1999) covered smaller urban communities. Communities must report progress in meeting permit requirements. Some have raised concerns that storm water requirements impose an undue burden. To evaluate storm water program costs, EPA developed estimates for both phases. GAO was asked to (1) determine the progress in implementing the storm water program, (2) evaluate the extent to which the program burdens communities, (3) examine the accuracy of EPA's cost estimates, and (4) examine the data available for assessing program burden. GAO collected data for all states and a sample of 130 communities, among other steps.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Environmental Protection Agency||In order to enable EPA to evaluate the implementation of the storm water program, the Administrator, EPA, should issue additional program guidance and consider regulatory changes to ensure that (1) communities report on activities in sufficient detail to determine their scope, costs, and results; and (2) communities report this information consistently so that it can be analyzed on a national basis.|