WATER QUALITY WEEK August 24th - 28th

An Introduction to the Gadsden-Etowah MS4.

The entities of the City of Gadsden, Rainbow City, Southside, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Attalla, Reece City, and portions of unincorporated Etowah County are collectively referred to as the “urbanized area”. The urbanized area was designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) as a Phase II municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). The urbanized area initially applied for and received a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II General Permit for storm water discharges from ADEM in 2003 and expired March 9, 2008. A Notice of Intent was submitted prior to the expiration of the permit and the permit coverage was extended on February 1, 2011. The re-issued Permit requires that the urbanized area develop and submit an updated Stormwater Management Program to ADEM.

The Stormwater Management Program has been submitted to comply with the current Phase II MS4 General Permit. The intent of the Phase II regulations and purpose of the Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) is to reduce, to the Maximum Extent Practicable (MEP), the discharge of pollutants and adverse impacts to water quality.

What is the MS4 Program?

Untreated or uncontrolled storm water runoff is the number one cause of impairment in our local waterways. Polluted runoff is often transported through municipal drainage systems until it eventually discharges into streams, lakes, and rivers untreated. An MS4, or Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, is comprised of drainage systems, including streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels and storm pipes, owned by a state, county, city, town, township, borough or other public entity. The NPDES storm water Phase II regulations require permit coverage for storm water discharges from MS4s, mainly those located in urbanized areas.

MS4 Programs are intended to improve our nation’s surface waters by reducing the quantities of pollutants that are picked up by runoff and transported into the storm systems during rainfall events. As part of the MS4 Program, municipalities hold and maintain a storm water management program that (1) reduces the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent possible; (2) protects water quality; and (3) satisfies the water quality requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. (epa.gov search Clean Water Act)

The MS4 program has six elements termed “minimum control measures” that when implemented should result in significant reduction in pollutants discharged into receiving waters. The six minimum control measures and actions required include the following:

1. Public Education and Outreach

Distribute educational materials and conduct outreach to inform citizens about the impacts that storm water runoff have on water quality.

2. Public Participation/involvement

Provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the storm water management program or other programs which improve water quality.

3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

Develop and implement a plan to detect and eliminate non storm water discharges into the storm water system.

4. Construction Site Runoff Control

Develop, implement and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction site activities that disturb one acre or greater.

5. Post-Construction Runoff Control

Develop, implement and enforce a program to address discharges of post-construction storm water runoff from new development or redevelopment areas.

6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping

Develop and implement a program that reduces or prevents pollutant runoff from municipal operations. For more information visit: www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater

The City of Southside is committed to improving water quality through better management of storm water runoff. Every resident and business owner can participate in their municipal stormwater program by reducing or preventing pollutant runoff from their own property and by reporting any non storm water discharges into the municipality’s drainage system by filing a report through the Action Center located on our website.

Please call 256-442-9770 extension 103 should you have any question regarding the City of Southside Storm Water Program.


Movement of Water Through the Steps of the Water Cycle

A water cycle diagram helps to answer the question, ‘How does the water cycle work?’ The steps of the water cycle, like rainfall, evaporation, and transpiration, make up the natural water circulation system known as the water cycle that continuously generates fresh water. Water is essential to our life and, in fact, for all life on this planet. Unlike some of our other resources, however, water does not get ‘used up’ as we use it. It may get converted from one form to another or become ‘dirty’ with pollutants, and it may move from one location to another, but it all remains near or at the earth’s surface and in the atmosphere. The earth’s water moves through the steps of the water cycle, by processes like evaporation, transpiration, precipitation, infiltration, flow of the rivers, and flow of groundwater. These processes make up the natural water circulation system called the water cycle that continuously regenerates fresh water.

Stormwater Runoff

In order to have a water cycle there must be storm water then the runoff generates when precipitation from rain events flows over land or impervious surface and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and buildings rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemical sediment or pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated.

To keep the storm water leaving your home or workplace clean, follow these simple guidelines:

1. Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly.
2. Repair auto leaks.
3. Dispose of household hazardous waste, used auto fluids and batteries at designated collection or recycling centers.
4. Clean up after your pet.
5. Use commercial car wash or wash your auto on a lawn or unpaved surface.
6. Sweep up yard debris rather than hosing down areas.
7. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible.
8. Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors.
9. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program.
10. Sweep up and properly dispose of construction debris.


For more in-depth information and other ways to help keep the water clean, please visit following links:


Storm Water Management Ordinance (PDF)


2022-2023 Annual Report - Southside (PDF)


Gadsden-Etowah MS4 2022 SWMPP (PDF)


IDDE Program (PDF)


Outfall and Monitoring Sites (PDF)


Outfall Map (PDF)