City of Birmingham / County of Jefferson


The Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management is responsible for addressing pollution that may enter the County’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), thereby improving water quality in the waterways of Jefferson County. To maximize program efficiency, the Storm Water Management Department utilizes a broad approach which includes interdepartmental collaboration to ensure Jefferson County is meeting federal and state regulations in order to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution flowing into and through local rivers, creeks, lakes and streams.

The Phase 1 NPDES MS4 program is mandated by federal law but is not funded by the federal government. AL 95-775 was passed by the Alabama Legislature so that a fee can be collected to finance the storm water program. For Jefferson County un-incorporated, the program is financed through a fee that is assessed on property parcels. The storm water fee appears on the yearly property tax bill. The Act of 95-775 has been amended in a legislative session in 2014.

Article 13 of the Jefferson County Subdivision and Construction Ordinance requires that individuals conducting land disturbing activities in unincorporated areas of the County apply for a land disturbing activity permit, submit a stormwater management plan, and implement effective erosion and sedimentation controls at construction sites. No building permit for any Individual Residential Structures (including additions, mobile homes or accessory buildings) will be issued without a Storm Water Management Permit or Exclusion Letter.

Jefferson County Subdivision and Construction Ordinance

ARTICLE 13 - EROSION AND SEDIMENTATION

(Entire Article Amended and Adopted 12/8/2009)

13.10 General.

All persons engaged in any land-disturbing activities shall take all reasonable measures to protect all public and private property, including roadways and waterways, from damage by such activities. However, that notwithstanding, there are certain specific measures that must be taken any time there is significant disturbance of the land; and the following provisions set forth the requirements that shall accordingly be imposed on persons engaged in land disturbing activities which necessitate planning and implementation of effective erosion and sedimentation controls for development sites.

The following provisions and requirements will not apply to activities listed as being exempt in Section 13.22 of this Article.

13.11 Authority and Jurisdiction Specific to this Article.

Whereas ADEM, pursuant to the authority delegated to it under the Clean Water Act, 33 u.s.c. Section 1251, et seq., has required the County to obtain a NPDES permit for storm water discharges from the MS4, effective March 1, 1995, the County is subject to the federal storm water laws and regulations contained in 33 U.S.C. 1342 (P) and 40 C.F.R. 122.26, and is required to adopt a local erosion control ordinance. Act No. 95775 of the Alabama State Legislature (Code of Alabama 1975, § 11-89C 1-14) and other provisions of the Code of Alabama 1975 grant the authority to adopt such ordinances to the governing bodies of counties.

13.20 Administration.

The Department of Inspection Services (The Department) shall be responsible for the enforcement of the provisions of this Article throughout the territorial jurisdiction of the County, under the oversight of its Director and/or Chief Civil Engineer.

13.31 Basic Control Objectives.

The basic control objectives which should be considered in developing and implementing an erosion and sedimentation control plan are to:

  1. Identify Critical Areas. On-site areas which are subject to severe erosion, and off-site areas which are especially vulnerable to damage from erosion and/or sedimentation caused from increased run-off are to be identified and receive special attention.
  2. Limit Exposed Areas. All land-disturbing activities should be planned and conducted to minimize the size of the area to be exposed at any one time.
  3. Limit Time of Exposure. To the maximum extent practicable, all land-disturbing activities should be planned and conducted to limit exposure to the shortest feasible time.
  4. Control Surface Water. Surface water runoff originating upgrade of exposed areas should be controlled to reduce erosion and sediment loss, to the maximum extent practicable, during the period of exposure.
  5. Control Sedimentation. All land-disturbing activities should be planned and conducted so as to prevent offsite sedimentation damage.
  6. Manage Storm Water Runoff. When the increase in storm water volumes, peak rates and/or velocity of storm water runoff resulting from a land-disturbing activity is sufficient to cause damaging accelerated erosion of the receiving ditch or channel stream, plans should include measures to help control the velocity and/or rate of release so as to minimize accelerated erosion and increased sedimentation of the ditch or stream channel. This may include the use of outlet energy dissipaters, detention methods, ditch or instream channel measures or engineered controls.
  7. Low Impact Development Techniques. Erosion and sedimentation control plans should seek to incorporate low impact development and environmental site design techniques, such as infiltration and capture/re-use of storm water, to the maximum extent practicable.

13.40 Commencement of Land-Disturbing Activities:

Responsibilities of the Property Owner/Developer.

No land-disturbing activity subject to the provisions and requirements of this Article shall be undertaken except in accordance with the following mandatory processes and procedures. Persons conducting land-disturbing activities shall take all reasonable measures referred to, or provided for, in this Article to protect all public and private property from damage caused by such activities, and to reduce storm water pollution to the maximum extent practicable.

f. The person engaged in or conducting the land-disturbing activity shall be responsible for maintaining all temporary and permanent erosion and sedimentation measures and facilities during the development of a site. The responsibility for maintaining all permanent erosion and sedimentation control measures and facilities after site development is completed shall lie with the landowner, until such time as adequate vegetative cover and site stabilization is achieved as determined by the Director or his/her designee.

g. Control measures shall be maintained as an effective barrier to sedimentation and erosion in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance. All control measures shall be checked, and repaired as necessary, monthly in dry periods and within twenty-four (24) hours after any precipitation at the site of 0.75 inches or greater in any 24-hour period. During prolonged rainfalls, daily checking and, if necessary, repairing shall be done. The registrant of the erosion and sedimentation control plan shall maintain written records of such checks and repairs, which records shall be subject to inspection by Department personnel at any reasonable time.

h. There shall be no distinctly visible floating scum, oil or other matter contained in the storm water discharge. The storm water discharge to an MS4 must not cause any color (except dyes or other substances discharged to an MS4 for the purpose of environmental studies and which do not have a harmful effect on the bodies of water within the MS4) or odor in the community waters that does not occur naturally from normal ecological or biological processes in the environment. The storm water discharge to the MS4 must result in no materials in concentrations sufficient to be hazardous or otherwise detrimental to humans, livestock, wildlife, plant life or fish and aquatic life in the community waters. 

k. Accidental Discharges.

    1. In the event of any discharge of a hazardous substance or a significant spill of a hazardous substance to the MS4 which could constitute a threat to human health or the environment, the owner or operator of the site shall give notice to the Department and the Jefferson County Emergency Management Authority in the same manner, and within the same time, as is required by State regulations for notice to ADEM.
    2. The owner or operator of such property shall take all reasonable steps to minimize any adverse impact to the community waters caused by discharges to the MS4, including such improved or additional monitoring as may be necessary to determine the nature and impact of the discharge. Absent a compelling public interest to the contrary, it shall not be a defense for the owner or operator in an enforcement action that it would have been necessary to halt or reduce the business or activity of the site, or any project or facility thereon, to maintain water quality and minimize any adverse impact that the discharge may cause.

13.50 Monitoring and Inspection of Land-Disturbing Activities: 

Authority of the Department of Inspection Services 

  1. The Director or his/her designee, bearing proper identification, may enter and inspect all land-disturbing activities for regular periodic inspections, investigations, monitoring, observations, measurements, enforcement, sampling and/or testing to verify compliance with the provisions of this ordinance, and to confirm the implementation and maintenance of any erosion and sedimentation control plan approved for suchlanddisturbingactivities. 
  2. It is hereby further provided that any site undergoing land-disturbing activity shall be inspected when the Director or his/her designee believes, as a result of complaints or monitoring activity, that land-disturbing activities on the site are causing a substantial pollutant loading which threatens the MS4; or if the Director or his/her designee has reasonable cause to believe that discharges from a land-disturbing activity to the MS4 may cause an imminent threat to human health or the environment. Such inspections may take place at any time and without notice.
  3. Whenever the Department determines that significant sedimentation is occurring as a result of a land-disturbing activity, despite application and maintenance of protective practices, the person conducting the land-disturbing activity or the person responsible for maintenance will be required to take additional protective action, and to furnish this information to the Department.
  4. The Director or his/her designee shall inspect the site within five (5) working days after receipt of notice that the land-disturbing activity is finished, and stable vegetation or other permanent controls have been established on all remaining exposed soil, and may require additional measures to stabilize the soil and control erosion and sedimentation. If additional measures are so required, written notice of the requirement for such additional 143 - - measures shall be delivered to the owner, and the owner shall continue to be covered by the original registration issued until a final inspection approves the project as having been satisfactorily completed. The Director or his/her designee shall provide to the owner, within ten (l0) days of the date of such approval, a certification of completion showing that the requirements of the erosion and sedimentation control plan registration have been fulfilled

13.60 Enforcement and Abatement

  1. Unauthorized Discharges. Any discharge of storm water made in violation ofthis ordinance, or of any condition of an erosion and sedimentation control plan registered pursuant to this ordinance, shall be subject to correction and/or abatement in accordance with applicable law; provided, however, that the following direct or indirect discharges into the MS4 are allowable under the terms of this ordinance (unless determined by the Director or his/her designee to be a source of contamination to the community water): landscape irrigation; uncontaminated water from foundation and footing drains; discharges from springs; lawn watering; and discharges from fire fighting activities.
  2. Immediate Threats to Public Health or Welfare. Notwithstanding any other provision in this ordinance to the contrary, in the event of an immediate threat to the public health or welfare, the Director may take any and all appropriate measures to remove or alleviate such threat.
  3. Enforcement Authority. The Director or his/her designee shall have the authority to issue notices of violation and citations, and to designate those persons who have enforcement authority. In exercising that authority, the persons enforcing the requirements of this Article shall follow the policies and procedures outlined herein below.

1. Written Notice. Whenever an authorized employee of the Department finds that a registrant, or any other person discharging storm water, has violated or is violating this Article or the erosion and sedimentation control plan registered hereunder, the Department shall serve upon such person written notice of the violation. Within ten (10) days of such notice, the permit registrant/property owner shall submit to the Department a written explanation of the violation and a plan for the satisfactory correction and prevention thereof, including the specific action(s) to be taken. However, submission of said plan in no way relieves the discharger of liability for any violations occurring before or after receipt of the notice of violation.

8. Further Action. The Jefferson County Department of Inspection Services shall monitor all land-disturbing activities, including those approved under an ADEM NPDES permit, for compliance with the BMP/erosion and sedimentation control plan, and with all other applicable conditions or requirements as may have been made a part of said permit. The Department shall also be authorized to take whatever enforcement action may be necessary to bring a work site into compliance with said permit, as well as with all applicable requirements of this Article, to the fullest extent allowed by law. And, in any case where the Director determines that a non-compliant condition cannot or will not be satisfactorily addressed by the responsible parties, that enforcement action shall include the right for Jefferson County, or a designated agent of said County, to enter upon such non-compliant property (as provided in Section 13.30(f)); to carry out the work necessary to eliminate and/or prevent hazardous conditions, or erosion and/or sedimentation problems (as provided in Section 13.51); and to assess whatever penalties as may be deemed appropriate (under Section 13.61) by a court of law.

13.61 Penalties. 

    1. Any person who shall commit any act declared unlawful under this Article; who violates any provision of this Article; who violates the provisions of any erosion and sedimentation control plan registered pursuant to this Article; or who fails or refuses to comply with any lawful communication or notice from the County to abate or take corrective action, shall be guilty of a criminal offense.
    2. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the owner(s) of any property upon which a violation of this Article, or of a registered erosion and sedimentation control plan, has been cited by the Department shall be deemed ultimately responsible for the condition of, or the conditions being caused by, the land disturbing activity taking place on their property. And as such, said property owner(s) shall accordingly be subject to the penalties of this Section in the event such penalties cannot be levied against the person(s) actually committing the offense.
    3. Under the authority provided in Alabama Code § 11-45-9, Jefferson County declares that any person violating the provisions of this Article may be fined an amount not less than $50.00 and not more than $500.00 per day, and may be imprisoned or sentenced to hard 147 - - labor for a period not to exceed six months, for each day of each violation. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate violation.
    4. The County shall have the right and authority to recover: 1. all damages proximately caused by the violator to the County, which may include any reasonable expenses incurred in investigating violations of, and enforcing compliance with, this Article, or any other actual damages caused by the violation; and, 2. the costs of the County’s maintenance of storm water facilities when the user of such facilities fails to maintain them as required by this Article.
    5. The County may bring legal action to enjoin the continuing violation of this Article. The existence of any other remedy, at law or equity, shall be no defense to any such actions.
    6. The remedies set forth in this section shall be cumulative, not exclusive. It shall not be a defense to any action, civil or criminal, that one or more of the remedies set forth herein has been sought or granted.

LINKS:

Jefferson County Subdivision & Construction Regulations