Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
November 2003
New Rules Clarify Relationship Between Stormwater Management and Plumbing

Land-disturbing activity during the construction phase as well as post-construction runoff from hard surfaces have a negative impact on the quality of our streams, rivers, lakes and even groundwater. Erosion control measures such as silt fences and retention ponds installed both during and after construction may be a part of an effective stormwater plan.

Erosion control and stormwater management rules continue to evolve as we strive towards maintaining and improving the quality of our water in Wisconsin. Mandates from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) specific to the role that plumbing plays in post-construction stormwater management have caused the subject of stormwater to be on the minds of owners, designers and contractors. Those mandates included the DNR’s administrative rule implementation, Ch. NR 151.

As part of the rule, the threshold for construction site erosion control and stormwater management changed from five acres to one acre.

Currently Wisconsin owners and contractors engaged in commercial building site development associated with land-disturbing activity in excess of one acre must file a Notice of Intent* with the Department of Commerce. This requirement had previously been associated with land-disturbing activity in excess of five acres. The Notice of Intent* that is filed with the Safety and Buildings Division regarding soil erosion measures also requires that the owner sign a statement verifying "that a long-term stormwater management plan meeting the requirements set forth in s. NR 216.47 has been developed and will be implemented." Currently, the administrative rule s. NR 216.47 states that the long-term stormwater management plan must meet the requirements of either rule s. NR 151.12 or s. NR 151.24.

Another aspect of the s. NR 151.12 changes the implementation of the post-construction stormwater performance standards. The administrative rule found under s. NR 151.12 has a delayed implementation date of October 1, 2004. This means that at the present time there are no statewide performance requirements for post-construction stormwater management. In lieu of that, cities or other government entities in Wisconsin may currently have stricter requirements. The DNR does require that the stormwater plan be developed and maintenance be provided for any permanent structures installed for the purpose of stormwater management.

When plumbing integral to the stormwater management plan is installed on a site as a part of a stormwater management system, the plumbing must comply with the state uniform plumbing code, Ch. Comm 81-87, Wis. Adm. Code. Plumbing systems include transport and detention piping, treatment devices, controlled-flow roof drainage, infiltration/dispersal, and stormwater use for irrigation or fixture flushing. Plan review is currently required by s. Comm 82.20 (1) (a), Wis. Adm. Code, for all subsurface infiltration systems serving public buildings and for plumbing systems that include 16 or more total plumbing fixtures. Under this application only a part of the total project may be stormwater. Projects that contain fewer than 16 total fixtures must still comply with the plumbing code. If plans are submitted for subsurface infiltration, soil profile descriptions and consideration of groundwater impact from the infiltration system are required. The guidelines that are currently being used for stormwater infiltration designs can be found on the Safety and Buildings Web site, www.commerce.wi.gov/SB/SB-PlumbingDatabaseReport82363.pdf.

What’s the issue with stormwater use within a plumbing system?

Plumbing systems are included on the stormwater management menu of options. When s. NR 151.12 was developed, the DNR included an option for stormwater use within a plumbing system. That language states, "Where alternate uses of runoff are employed, such as for toilet flushing, laundry or irrigation, such alternate use shall be given equal credit toward the infiltration volume required by this paragraph." (s. NR 151.12 (5) (c) 7). In addition to current conventional storm piping, treatment and irrigation systems, this allowance opens the door for "stormwater use plumbing systems" to provide an option for compliance with Ch. NR 151 post-construction long-term stormwater requirements. The state uniform plumbing code, Ch. Comm 81-87, Wis. Adm. Code, s. Comm Table 82.70, Wis. Adm. Code lists plumbing treatment standards based on water uses.

As the plumbing industry moves forward regarding stormwater management in Wisconsin, there will be a need for continued dialogue and training of designers, installers and maintainers of these advanced stormwater systems while cities develop their own stormwater management ordinances to prepare for the implementation of s. NR 151.12.

If you’re interested in designing a "stormwater use system," contact the Department of Commerce Safety and Buildings Division plumbing staff for more information.

*The official title of the form is: Notice of Intent for Storm Water Discharges Associated With Commercial Building Construction Activities Under a General WPDES Permit (SBD-10376, R06/03)

--Lynita Docken and Henry Kosarzycki

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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