Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)

Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System (MS4) refers to a system of conveyances (man-made channels & ditches, curbs, underground storm drains, etc.) owned by a municipality, county, or other public entity that is used to collect and discharge stormwater to the waters of the U.S., such as streams, rivers, and estuaries.


In 1987, The Federal Clean Water Act obligated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require urban areas to regulate stormwater. The Census defines where these urbanized areas are, and in 2010 the Census revealed that the Town’s population met the urbanized area definition and thus fell within the purview of these requirements.

The Town of Bluffton must now meet regulations set forth by the EPA and the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control (SCDHEC). The Town of Bluffton is considered a Phase II or Small MS4. If you are interested in finding out more about SCDHEC’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program please visit their website here.

The Town's Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) set forth by the EPA and SCDHEC must address the following minimum control measures:

  1. Public education and outreach
  2. The objectives of the program are to distribute educational materials to the community, conduct public outreach activities, raise public awareness on the causes and impacts of stormwater pollution and inform the public on steps they can take to reduce or prevent stormwater pollution. Some of the Town’s current education efforts include:

    • Neighbors for Clean Water Partnership with other public entities in Beaufort County
    • Developed a Citizen’s Guide to the Town of Bluffton’s MS4 Program.
    • Information and educational materials for homeowners and developers. Some of the handouts the Town will be creating are:
      ➢ Carpet Cleaning Fact Sheet
      ➢ Commercial Property Fact Sheet
      ➢ Food Service Fact Sheet
      ➢ Landscaping Fact Sheet
      ➢ Multi-Family Complexes Fact Sheet
      ➢ Paint Fact Sheet
      ➢ Vehicle Repair Fact Sheet
    • Stormwater Public Service Announcements – Developed in partnership with the County Channel and the Beaufort County Stormwater Utility.
    • An educational kiosk located at the Bluffton Library
    • Billboard campaign for Neighbors for Clean Water

  3. Public education and outreach
  4. An actively involved community that participates in planning and implementation of the Stormwater Program increases its effectiveness. Some of the ways opportunities are made available to citizens are through public hearings, representation on stormwater committees, the Town of Bluffton’s Watershed Action Plan Advisory Committee meetings, and involvement in the Town’s two annual cleanup events.

  5. Illicit discharge detection
  6. The objectives of the program are to detect and eliminate illicit discharges that include spills and illegal dumping, address significant contributors of pollutants, implement appropriate enforcement procedures and actions, develop a storm sewer system map and inform employees, businesses, and the general public of hazards associated with illegal discharges and improper disposal of waste. The Illicit Discharge Ordinance located in section 7.3.6

    Examples of illicit discharges include sanitary wastewater, car wash wastewater, radiator flushing disposal, spills from roadway accidents, carpet cleaning wastewaters, effluent from septic tanks, improper oil disposal, laundry wastewater/gray water, improper disposal of auto and household toxics.

    To report an illegal discharge or to report stormwater concerns please call 843 706-4500 or 843 706-7805.

  7. Construction site runoff control
  8. The objectives of the program are to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff from construction activities, provide procedures for public input, ensure compliance, requirements for construction site operators to implement erosion and sediment control practices, review site plans and procedures for site inspection and enforcement of control measures.

  9. Post-Construction runoff control
  10. Stormwater features, such as lagoons, in your community not only provide flood control, but can also provide water quality benefits to stormwater runoff. These features must be continually maintained so that they are functioning properly. Developing, implementing, and enforcing a program that monitors long-term operation and maintenance of stormwater features will reduce pollutants in post-construction stormwater runoff.

  11. Good Housekeeping

    The objectives of the program are to prevent or reduce stormwater pollution from our municipal operations. The Town must meet the same standards as the community.

    The Town of Bluffton is auditing all public facilities and programs to ensure pollutant loading is minimized to the maximum extent practicable and conducts annual inspections on the facilities to ensure continued compliance.

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