Local Stormwater Rules

  • Greg Blanchard
A typical stormwater culvert such as those found at road crossings.

Manatee County has a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to operate its municipal storm sewer system. This permit, known as a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Permit (or "MS4 permit"), requires us to regulate the types of discharges that go into our storm sewer system as a pollution control measure. The following article describes the public face of our compliance program and how you can help us meet our permit conditions.

Our Municipal Storm Sewer Permit (MS4 Permit) Responsibilities

The County has a variety of responsibilities under its storm sewer permit. These include, but are not limited to: 1) Inspecting and maintaining all components of the municipal separate storm sewer system; 2) Reviewing plans for public and private construction projects of all types to ensure compliance with local stormwater requirements; 3) Implement a local stormwater regulatory authority which the County can use to regulate discharges to the municipal storm sewer system; 4) Implement an approved Stormwater Management Program to reduce stormwater pollution from urban Manatee County; 5) Inspect certain industries and construction sites for compliance with local discharge regulations; 6) Inspect the municipal storm sewer system itself for non-complying discharges and connections from any source; 7) Respond to citizen complaints on issues affecting our storm sewer system; and 8) Monitor our receiving waters to demonstrate the effectiveness of our Stormwater Management Program. We are also required to prepare an Annual Report summarizing our activities during one permit year. The Annual Report and our supporting documentation are audited annually by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) representatives.

The County Stormwater Ordinance: Illicit Discharges and Illicit Connections

The County passed Ordinance 00-02 to meet its responsibilities under its municipal storm sewer permit for local authority to control or terminate unauthorized and/or inappropriate discharges to our storm sewer system. The ordinance implicitly recognizes that the municipal storm sewer system was designed to convey only storm water. The municipal storm sewer system does not have significant pollution treatment capacity. Discharges to the municipal storm sewer system other than storm water flows are generally prohibited.


There are specific exemptions from this ordinance that are specified in the text:

  • water from water line flushing
  • water from landscape irrigation and lawn watering
  • diverted stream flows
  • rising groundwaters
  • uncontaminated groundwater infiltration
  • uncontaminated pumped groundwater
  • discharges from potable water sources
  • water from foundation and footing drains
  • water from springs
  • water from crawl space pumps
  • individual residential car wash water
  • flows from riparian habitats and wetlands
  • dechlorinated swimming pool discharges
  • filter backwash from residential swimming pools
  • street wash waters
  • discharges or flows from emergency fire fighting activities

The discharger, not the County, is responsible for any sampling and analyses to demonstrate that a discharge is uncontaminated.

Since the storm sewer permit is a federal requirement, the County is able to levy fines up to $2000 per day when it is unable to obtain compliance by other means. 

Pollution Prevention Inspection Program

We must verify that construction sites and many types of commercial or industrial facilities are taking steps to prevent non-stormwater discharges into the municipal stormwater system.  Commercial and industrial facility inspections are conducted along with Small Quantity Generator inspections where possible. Other facilities may be inspected as part of an industry-specific inspection. 


Construction site sedimentation and erosion control inspections (ESC) are conducted by qualified ESC inspectors from various County departments depending on the nature and size of the project. All construction sites, regardless of size, must implement proper ESC measures. Sites disturbing 1 acre or more of land area or part of a larger construction project must also have the appropriate FDEP-issued ESC permit.