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Environmentally Speaking . . . Stormwater Discharge and YOU!

Stormwater Discharge and YOUAnyone discharging, or proposing to discharge, waste or wastewater into the surface waters of the State, such as the St. Joseph River, is required by law to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The City of Niles must annually obtain an NPDES permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The annual permit fee is $3,000. Many meetings are attended each year and numerous annual reports, studies, tests (as needed), and surveys are completed and submitted to the MDEQ on a regular basis. The NPDES program is intended to control direct discharge into the surface waters of the state by imposing effluent limits and other conditions necessary to meet State and federal requirements.

Indirect dischargers (those who discharge to a municipal treatment facility via a sanitary sewer) are not required to have an NPDES permit. Discharge to a storm sewer does not go to a municipal treatment facility, and is considered a direct discharge.

In 2004 the Niles City Council passed an Illicit Discharge and Connection Ordinance which sets penalties for individuals or firms that are guilty of allowing non-authorized discharges into our storm sewer system or directly to surface waters in the state, such as the St. Joseph River, Dowagiac River, or Silverbrook Creek.

Types of non-storm water discharges which ARE ALLOWED are (not a complete list):

  • Landscape Irrigation runoff;

  • Non-contaminated pumped groundwater;

  • Foundation drains;

  • Footing drains and basement sump pumps;

  • Air conditioning condensate;

  • Residential swimming pool water and other de-chlorinated swimming pool water;

  • Waters from non-commercial car washing.

Types of discharges which are NOT ALLOWED are (not a complete list):

  • Paints;

  • Cleaning solvents, paint thinners, degreasers;

  • Fuels and lubricating oils;

  • Grass clippings, leaves and other yard wastes;

  • Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers;

  • Animal waste;

  • Sewage;

  • Garbage;

  • Rock, sand, dirt.

Anyone witnessing a violation of this ordinance should contact the City of Niles Code Enforcement Office or the Department of Public Works immediately.  The municipalities in Cass and Berrien Counties are working together to ensure cleaner and safer water in the Lower St. Joseph River Watershed. We will need your help, to learn more about these efforts visit