NPDES Annual Report
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
MS4 Permit No. NE0133671
Annual Report Summary September 1, 2020 – August 31, 2021
City of Lincoln, Nebraska
The Forest Lake project is a stormwater improvement project funded by the City of Lincoln’s 2019 Stormwater Bond. The purpose of the project is to reduce flood risk in a southeast Lincoln neighborhood. Construction began December 6, 2021.
Submitted By: Lincoln Transportation and Utilities | Watershed Management Division
Prepared By: Shannon Ideus, Senior Environmental Health Specialist
Reporting Requirements Summary
The City of Lincoln is required by federal law to comply with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act. In Nebraska, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) the authority to implement the conditions of the Clean Water Act and the responsibility to ensure municipalities in Nebraska are compliant.
The City of Lincoln complies with these mandated regulations through a State-issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES permit(PDF, 2MB)). On October 2, 2018, the City was re-issued an NPDES permit by the State of Nebraska, allowing municipal stormwater discharges to local waterways and lakes effective November 1, 2018 – October 31, 2023.
This is a summary of the City’s efforts reported to the NDEE for the period beginning 9/1/20 to 8/31/21. The reporting period is reflective of the new permit, signed on October 2nd, 2018, by the Water Permits Division Administrator.
Note: The City’s fiscal year, which ended August 31, 2021, is slightly different than the NPDES permit year 2021, which ends December 31, 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted NPDES permit requirements. Social media was restricted to health issues in late 2020 and early 2021, public events were cancelled, and staffing was limited due to facility closures, social distancing, and quarantine requirements.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, overall numbers were dramatically lower than previous years. The permit analytics show abnormally low or non-existent attendance and/or participation. This is not indicative of non-compliance, it is however, an unfortunate result of the pandemic and may skew future permit analysis.
Events and attendance numbers continue to remain substantially lower in early 2022 and will impact next year’s annual findings. Staff will continue to monitor restrictions/guidelines and make recommended modifications/adjustments as necessary.
The following is a list of programs the city has implemented to comply with the State’s requirements for Lincoln’s municipal stormwater NPDES permit.
Each program (numbered 1-8) contains a link to an EPA website to provide a summarized description of the requirements.
The items listed below are non-inclusive of all efforts made by the city in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
In this permit year, the Parks and Recreation Department provided several programs for elementary school students and the general public which described positive and negative impacts humans have on the environment. Overall attendance on the outdoor trails, outdoor exhibits and various onsite programs/scouts and events consisted of 133,923 students and their adult leaders.
The city requires a “No Dumping – Drains to Creek” design imprint into all new precast concrete top sections of storm drains and manhole covers. The goal of the Storm Water Awareness Program is to prevent anything other than clean water from entering storm drains. Volunteers are also recruited to mark storm drains with a “No Dumping - Drains to Creek” message. During the year, 123 storm drains were marked through the SWAP (Stormwater Awareness Program).
Storm Drain Stamping in Lincoln, NE
Watershed Management conducted three stake holder meetings with 24 stakeholders and City/NRD representatives for the Salt Creek Resiliency Study.
Calendar of Public Events for Watershed Management
The city also met with a local Homeowners Association and a local Garden Club regarding maintenance of their retention pond and how to reduce flood risk.
The City made 1,000 cubic yards of compost available free to the public.
Watershed Management uses social media (Facebook and Twitter) to engage the public.
The City of Lincoln implemented an online “See Click Fix” program for citizens to report issues of concern. One of the items is “Mud in the Street Due to Construction.”
Complaints of mud in the street are generally in direct correlation with local construction. Inspectors verify the address of the complaint against the map of large and small permitted sites. If it correlates with a permitted site, it is not only followed up in See Click Fix, but also addressed through the proper enforcement procedures of the INOI or NOI permit. This system not only helps ensure Citizen concerns are addressed but also site concerns are followed up in a timely manner. See Click Fix Mud in the street items are to be acknowledged within 24 hours and addressed within ten days. For this permit term staff followed up on 69 mud in the street complaints.
Mud in Street Complaint in Lincoln, NE
Removing trash from our local streams meet not only the public engagement permit requirement, but also qualifies as a water quality improvement. Watershed enlists local citizens to remove trash from our streams/creeks/waterways. We continually add new streams into the Adopt a Stream program, which correlates the upward trend in volunteer numbers. This year 405 volunteers took part in 28 Adopt A Stream clean up events and removed a total of 9,982 pounds of trash from our local water bodies.
Garbage in our local streams/tributaries is cleaned by various Adopt a Stream groups throughout the year
The City put on a program to accept recyclable materials at various locations. Seven thousand five hundred seventy tons of recyclable materials were collected, including: newspapers, paper, cardboard, glass, tin and aluminum cans. This program was associated with the City of Lincoln’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Program.
Make recycling a family affair!
A Sustainable Landscape Cost Share Program is offered by the Watershed Management Division. This program offers a rebate of up to $2000 to Lincoln property owners for approved rain scaping projects. The program reimburses participants 50 percent of qualifying expenses related to these projects. The goal of the program is to improve water quality, reduce runoff, and facilitate infiltration.
Rain Garden/Cost Share Project in Lincoln, NE
Lincoln Electric System (LES) annually holds a sustainable living festival to teach citizens about sustainable living in a fun family oriented and entertaining way. Due to COVID-19, this year’s festival was held online. Watershed Management participated virtually and provided an online video on how to build a rain barrel.
LES Sustainable Living Festival Online Event
The Lincoln Public Schools and area schools provide curriculum for recycling and ecology-based classes. Garbology is an ecology-based program that includes water quality components. The classes were provided to 3,500-4,000 public and private elementary students.
Garbology is taught to local grade schoolers in Lincoln, NE
Watershed Management annually attends Uncle Sam Jam for the July 4th Celebration. This years’ event was held on July 3, 2021.
LTU Watershed Booth at Uncle Sam Jam
To educate the public on clean waterways, Watershed Management and Keep Lincoln and Lancaster County Beautiful work together to publish online social media campaigns to promote proper disposal of fireworks debris.
Watershed Management held the annual Oak Lake cleanup on July 5, 2021, to collect debris.
In Summer-Fall seasons of 2020-21 the dry weather team monitored 51 outfall sites in Lincoln. A total of eighteen samples were collected at sites that were found to have flow to detect potential illicit and illegal connections to the storm drain system. Monitoring locations shown in Figure 1(PDF, 1MB).
The Lincoln Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials (HazMat) team responded to numerous calls to conduct spill containment for hazardous materials spills. The Health Department conducts investigations and enforcement for HazMat responses as appropriate (some locations are shown on Figure 2(PDF, 1MB)).
The Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department investigated 82 reports of illicit discharges, with 65 of those being immediate responses by LLCHD’s HazMat Emergency Response Team due to reports as having actual water impact or the potential to impact water.
Illicit discharge/polluted water in storm drain
In addition, Solid Waste, Water Quality and Food Safety staff responded to 13 illicit discharge complaints. Of the 13 complaint reports that indicated actual water impact, 5 were verified. (Some locations are shown on Figure 2(PDF, 1MB)).
The Watershed Management Division maintains a database for tracking permits for construction site activity. All of the investigations conducted by Watershed Management were logged in a database and mapped (see Figure 3(PDF, 1MB)).
Watershed Management uses an educational approach for large and small site violations, granting owners 14 days to correct an issue before issuing a violation.
In addition to on-site education, annual training is provided to contractors apprising them of permit requirements, and changes to the same. Due to COVID-19 this year’s annual training was provided online at lincoln.ne.gov/erosion.
Training is provided to small and large site contractors
One hundred sixteen Retention/Detention Ponds(PDF, 1MB) were inspected to assess their functionality with regard to reducing pollutants from stormwater run-off and flood control (locations shown on Figure 5(PDF, 1MB)). Thirty-two Post Construction BMP sites were inspected as well, and 63 new Post Construction BMP applications reviewed by staff.
Detention basin in Lincoln, NE
Residential Streets (8,530 lane miles) were cleaned with street sweepers three times per year on a rotating schedule of locations. All arterial streets were cleaned with street sweepers at a rate of typically once every two weeks (7,968 curb miles).
All business districts were cleaned with street sweepers, typically once every four days (601 business district lane miles).
Lincoln, NE Street Sweeping Operations
The combined street sweeping of all types of streets listed above produced 3,789.9 tons of landfill material. This material would have ended up in local streams, creeks and retention ponds if not collected by street sweepers.
City crews inspected manholes, inlets, and piped storm drainage systems to ensure that the city storm drain system is in good repair and that no sanitary lines connect to them.
In this permit term, design work was completed for the Forest Lake Boulevard stormwater improvement project funded by the City of Lincoln 2019 Stormwater Bond. The purpose of the project is to reduce the flood risk in a southeast Lincoln neighborhood. The city also stabilized three drainage creek channels on project through the Parks Department to improve water quality. Additional information regarding these improvement projects and other Watershed Management projects can be found on the City of Lincoln Watershed Management website.
In this permit term, the Health Department conducted inspections at 22 municipal facilities that are required to be inspected under EPA’s “Good Housekeeping” program (see Figure 6(PDF, 1MB)).
Parks golf course facilities that house/maintain equipment are considered Municipal Facilities
One hundred five industrial facilities were inspected for compliance with State of Nebraska issued NPDES permits. One of the Mayor's Performance Indicators for Water Quality is to assure that at least 90% of industries pose minimal risk of illicit discharge to the stormwater system. In FY20-21, 95% of the facilities posed minimal risk of illicit discharge. (see Figure 7(PDF, 1MB)).
The State approved Best Management Practice (BMP) monitoring for our wet weather monitoring for this permit term. This year was the third year of a five-year permit. Overall data analysis will be provided in year five.
P Street - Outflow Sampling Location
BMP sites selected for BMP monitoring include Planters at the Municipal Service Center; Tyrrell Park Regional Bioretention Area; Tyrrell Park – Permeable Paver Cul-de-Sac; 11th Street Streetscape – 11th & G Bioretention Cell; and the P Street Streetscape – P Street & Centennial Mall Bioretention Cell.
11th & G Bioretention Cell
- Figure 1 - Dry Weather Monitoring Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 2 - Illicit Discharge Complaints/Response Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 3 - Erosion and Sediment Control Complaints/Response Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 4 - Grading Inspection Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 5 - Pond Inspection Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 6 - Municipal Facility Inspection Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 7 - Industrial Facility Inspection Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 8 - Post Construction BMP Inspection Locations(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 9 - Cost Share Projects(PDF, 671KB)
- Figure 10 - Cost Share Rain Gardens 2007 - 2020(PDF, 1MB)
- Figure 11 - Illicit Discharge Complaints/Response Locations on State of NE / UNL Property(PDF, 1MB)
PDF Version of NPDES Annual Report(PDF, 13MB)