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Metro-North Railroad 2020 annual storm water report

Public notice

The Metro-North Railroad 2020 Annual Storm Water Report has been prepared in accordance with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This report has been prepared in accordance with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation SPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), GP-0-15-003. The Annual Report for the Metro-North Railroad covers the Storm Water Management Program for the Reporting Period of March 10, 2019 to March 9, 2020.

Submit comments electronically and please use on the subject line: Comments - Storm Water Annual Report 2020.

The Metro-North Railroad is making the report available for public review and comment. Interested parties may provide their comments to the Metro-North Railroad via the e-mail the link below, to be considered in finalizing the document.

Background: SPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), GP-0-15-003, requires that agencies or municipalities identified as Regulated Small MS4s must develop a Storm Water Management Program to address six Minimum Control Measures. This public notice serves to comply with the "Public Involvement/Participation" Minimum Control Measure.

About the report

A Phase II Storm Water Management Program (SWMP) has been prepared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) for its facilities. The aim of this program is to control storm water runoff discharges from a number of facilities to the waters of the United States in accordance with the requirements of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Phase II storm water regulations under the federal Clean Water Act. This Phase II program coverage is for storm water discharges applicable to numerous MNRR facilities and an extensive span of rail/track under its jurisdiction (see Table 1). In addition, this program is in support of the MNRR's filing of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to be covered by a Phase II State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit available through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for such discharges.

The aim of the Clean Water Act, the federal Phase II storm water regulations and the program proposed in the MNRR SWMP is to reduce to the "maximum extent practicable" pollutants in storm water discharges.

The concern for controlling storm water discharges can be traced to the 1972 Clean Water Act Section 208 provisions for evaluating the impacts of and recommending controls for point and nonpoint source discharges in conjunction with the development of area-wide water quality management plans known as "208 plans." These plans were completed in the late 1970s/early 1980s and for the most part, identified the need to study further the specific impacts of urban runoff and alternative control measures to alleviate or prevent those impacts.

As a result of the findings of many of the 208 plans, particularly those in the northeast and in and around urban areas of the nation, a nationwide pilot program known as Nationwide Urban Runoff Program (NURP) studied 26 urban localities in detail. In 1983, through the NURP, USEPA concluded that urban runoff was indeed causing significant water quality impacts and that a wide range of controls were possible to address those impacts.

MNRR facilities covered by Phase II SPDES storm water program


Approx. #


Storm Water Control Measures


Station Buildings


Passenger services

Roof drains on large facilities.

Platforms and Overpasses


Passenger access

Trash removal and sweeping of station areas.

Parking Areas


Passenger parking

Storm sewers/catch basins equipped with infiltration and detention systems. Maintenance items include trash removal, proper sand and salt storage, sweeping of lots and clean out of catch basins and infiltration and detention basins.

Rail Tracks

208 miles

Rail Transportation

Track Bed

Freight and passenger

“Ballast” - Compaction of load/drainage.

Right of Way

Track elevated with right-of-way sloped for drainage to swales.



Geographic boundary/Traffic crossing

Storm sewers, runoff onto track bed.

Line Structures



Geographic boundary/Traffic crossing

Storm drains/pipes.

Shops and Yards

Maintenance Shops


Locomotive/Vehicle repair

Paved, oil/water separators, SPDES Permit discharge or NYCDEP Permit POTW.

Train Wash


Train car washing

Troughed, recycled, discharge to POTW.

Fueling Stations


Locomotive/Vehicle fueling

Fuel pads, oil water separators, liners, discharge to POTW and secondary containment.

Lay Up Yards


Rolling stock storage

Liners, oil water separators.

Other Facilities

Administrative Offices



Roof drains to storm sewers.

Employee Facilities


Lockers, lounges, etc.

Roof drains to storm sewers.

In 1985, two additional studies confirmed the NURP findings. This included a nonpoint source assessment conducted by representatives of state agencies and an urban storm water database study of 22 metropolitan areas that was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. These various studies resulted in Congress amending the Clean Water Act in 1987 to require the permitting and control of urban storm water discharges.

The above studies, as well as a number of other similar studies, identified a variety of pollutants in storm water discharges. These pollutants include suspended solids, sediment, bacteria, nutrients, pesticides, herbicides, toxics, floatables, oil, grease, heavy metals, synthetic organics, petroleum hydrocarbons and oxygen demanding substances. The adverse impact of these pollutants in storm water discharges include closed beaches, closed shellfish areas, toxic contamination causing fish consumption bans, beach and shoreline litter, and floatables, siltation of marina and shipping channels, habitat/wetland degradation, and stream bank erosion.

The sources of pollutants in storm water runoff include urban streets, lawns, driveways, parking lots, gas stations, bus depots, golf courses, construction sites, marinas, trash, sand/salt commercial and industrial areas, highway yards, atmospheric fallout, direct rainfall (i.e., acid rain) and a variety of other activities such as landfills, recycling facilities, transportation, and manufacturing and industrial facilities. The EPA's 1996 National Water Quality Inventory reported that urban runoff was a leading cause of water quality problems in the country, causing impairment in 469 of the nations estuaries; 21 percent of the lakes, ponds and reservoirs; and 13 percent of the rivers and streams.

Under the USEPA's December 1999 Phase II storm water regulations, thousands of communities across the country with populations under 100,000 were required to control urban storm water discharges. The Phase II regulations were issued nearly 10 years after the agency issued its Phase I regulations. The Phase I regulations required the control of storm water discharges from larger communities with populations greater than 100,000, and from 11 categories of industrial activity, including construction sites disturbing more than 5 acres.

Under USEPA's Phase II program, the thousands of communities (villages, towns, cities, etc.) across the nation are required to develop and implement a six-part program that reduces pollutants in storm water runoff to the "maximum extent practicable." This program must include a public education program, a public involvement program, detection and elimination of illicit/illegal connections, controls for construction sites disturbing more than 1 acre, controls for new developments and redevelopment, and pollution prevention/good housekeeping practices as part of the operation and maintenance of the communities' storm sewer systems.

In New York State, discharges from hundreds of municipal separate storm systems (MS4's) that serve under 100,000 people, and are covered by USEPA's Phase II program, can receive permit coverage through a SPDES General Permit, provided that a NOI is filed by the municipality (or agencies such as the MNRR) to be covered by the General SPDES Permit and a storm water management program is developed and implemented to satisfy the USEPA requirements. MNRR has filed the NOI and compiled a six-part SWMP for discharges from MNRR-owned or operated storm sewer systems at its facilities and rail/track lines to the waters of the United States.

The State's General SPDES Permit for MS4's that provides this coverage is Permit No. GP 02-02 issued pursuant to Article 17, Titles 7, 8 and Article 70 of the State's Environmental Conservation Law. This Permit's effective date was January 8, 2003, and its expiration date is January 8, 2008. A related permit that addresses construction runoff from sites having disturbances from more than 1 acre is the State's General SPDES Permit for Construction Activity: Permit No. GP-02-01. The effective date of this permit is also January 8, 2003, and its expiration date is January 8, 2008.

Examples of control measures (also referred to as best management practices) contained in theMNRR's Phase II SWMP include trash, hazardous waste, petroleum and materials management, construction site runoff control, catch basin and storm drain system cleaning and spill response and prevention, just to name a few.