As rain falls on Earth’s surface and flows across parking lots, roofs, sidewalks, and lawns, it picks up harmful pollutants before it drains, untreated, directly to our local streams, the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
This is called stormwater runoff, and it is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Bay. Pollutants damage the health of our water and the ecological communities it supports. Clean water is vital to our health, communities, and economy.

JBM-HH Storm Sewer Systems

JBM‐HH operates a small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) for Fort Myer and Henderson Hall, regulated by a Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The MS4 is a network of inlets, gutters, curbs, and pipes intended to collect stormwater and convey it to nearby waterbodies. Fort McNair’s storm sewer system is regulated under the District of Columbia’s MS4 permit.

All of JBM-HH’s storm drains carry stormwater to the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and their tributaries, which flow to the Chesapeake Bay.

TMDL – The Bay’s Pollution Diet

Poor water quality has been an ongoing problem in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. To address the Bay’s declining health, the U.S. EPA established limits for key pollutants in the Bay, called the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The Bay’s TMDL is a ‘pollution diet’ for three major contributors to the Bay’s poor health – nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment – with a goal of reducing these pollutants 20-25% by the year 2025.

The TMDL is the maximum amount of these pollutants that the Bay can accept in order to meet federal water quality standards. The TMDL pollutant amounts are divided up and “allocated” to the states with streams that discharge to the Bay.

How do these pollutants get into stormwater?

JBM-HH storm drains collect and transport rainwater and snowmelt directly to streams and rivers, not to a treatment plant that removes pollutants. There are devices installed in parts of Fort Myer and Fort McNair that help to remove some of the stormwater pollutants, but the majority of stormwater flows untreated directly to surface waters.

Oil, grease, detergents, trash, pet waste, heavy metals, and other pollutants that are leaked or deposited on the ground, intentionally or not, eventually end up in waterways.

How does stormwater pollution impact our communities?

All of the pollutants described above can harm wildlife and the water quality of our local water bodies, including the Chesapeake Bay, in turn affecting our health and local economies.

Stormwater flowing through streets, farm fields, lawns, and other developed areas, picks up contaminants and nutrients and carries them to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. These contaminants include bacteria from pet waste; oils and gasoline (carcinogenic to humans) from vehicle and fueling leaks; pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.

Certain pollutants such as pet waste and fertilizers can increase the amount of nutrients in water, which can cause the growth of excess algae, called algal blooms. Algal blooms can produce dangerous toxins that can harm people and animals and increase treatment costs for drinking water. Excessive algae also uses up the oxygen that fish need to survive and can cause “dead zones,” which are areas in bodies of water where most aquatic animals cannot survive.

Additionally, excessive amounts of toxic pollutants such as oils, heavy metals, and pesticides can contribute to fish kills, which can upset the balance of local ecosystems and severely impact local economies, as fewer fish are available to be harvested. Even small amounts of certain contaminants may accumulate in fish and other aquatic wildlife and make their way into our food chain.

What can you do to prevent stormwater pollution?

Our individual actions can add up to a large positive or negative impact on our local environment, health, and communities. Below are just a few of the many actions you can take to protect our local waters:

  •         Use proper waste receptacles – Never throw trash or cigarette butts on the ground.
  •         Pick up after your dog to prevent the pollution of local waters and the spread of diseases.
  •         Have your vehicle maintained regularly to prevent leaks.
  •         Do not top off your vehicle tank when refueling.
  •         Use commercial car washes that treat and recycle washwater.
  •         Immediately clean up spilled materials.
  •         Spread the word! Encourage friends and family to take these actions with you.

By taking a proactive interest and observing the best management practices listed above, you can help protect the Chesapeake Bay and our nation’s water resources for future generations.

JBM-HH Stormwater Permits

Stormwater that is discharged from the Installation’s storm drain system, or MS4, is regulated under the Virginia Stormwater Management Act, the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) permit regulations, and the federal Clean Water Act. Discharges from JBM-HH’s MS4 are covered under Virginia’s General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 General Permit) as published at 9 VAC 52-890-40. Under the Virginia MS4 General Permit, JBM-HH must develop and implement a program to control the discharge of pollutants from the storm sewer system in a manner that protects the water quality in nearby streams, rivers, and wetlands. This program, referred to as the MS4 Program Plan, must include the following six Minimum Control Measures:

  •        Public education and outreach on stormwater impacts
  •        Public involvement and participation
  •        Illicit discharge detection and elimination
  •       Construction site stormwater runoff control
  •       Post-construction stormwater management in new development and redevelopment
  •       Pollution prevention/good housekeeping for municipal operations