New Certification Program Benefits MS4 Professionals

Jan. 1, 2010

In the United States, if you develop, implement, or oversee programs for managing stormwater runoff that is collected and transported through a municipal separate storm-sewer system, or MS4, you can now demonstrate your professional knowledge, skills, and abilities with a new certification program. Developed and administered by EnviroCert International Inc., the Certified MS4 Specialist (CMS4S) program will debut at EC10, the International Erosion Control Association’s annual conference, in Dallas, TX, Feb. 16-20. There, applicants can attend the daylong exam-review course and take the written exam on another day.

The CMS4S certification attests that the registrant has met EnviroCert International Inc.’s technical and ethical standards for managing or coordinating MS4 programs that are consistent with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s NPDES program and that comply with applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations. It is one of three other certification programs administered by EnviroCert International Inc.: Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC), Certified Professional in Stormwater Quality (CPSWQ), and Certified Erosion, Sediment and Storm Water Inspector (CESSWI).

The Phase II Connection
The CMS4S certification is one more way that EnviroCert International Inc. is helping to protect water quality in the United States and around the world, notes David Ward, CPESC, CESSWI, the organization’s executive director.

“By demonstrating your proficiency in the MS4 field, the CMS4S certification adds to your professional credibility,” Ward says. “And it can increase your recognition within the industry and improve your marketability.”

This program has been developed by the 17-member oversight committee of EnviroCert International Inc. Lori Gates, CPESC, CPSWQ, administrative vice chair of the organization’s board of directors, chairs this committee. It represents different sizes and types of MS4 communities in the US, state and federal regulators, consultants, and the Center for Watershed Protection.

Development of this certification program dates back to 2007. Gates, who chairs the Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management, and Shareen Wagley, the association’s Stormwater Committee vice chair and MS4 coordinator for the Muncie (Indiana) Sanitary District, approached Ward about establishing an MS4 certification program. Ward asked Gates to explore this idea and report her findings to the EnviroCert International’s board of directors. In 2008, the board established the oversight committee to develop the CMS4S program.

“The primary target audience for this certification is the staff of MS4 programs subject to the Phase II NPDES requirements,” says Gates, a senior resource planner with Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. in Indianapolis, IN. “This program involves MS4s in and outside of urban areas that are smaller than the Phase I MS4s, which are in medium and large cities or certain high-population counties. However, Phase I MS4 staff, as well as contractors, regulators, consultants, and others working in this field, could also benefit by obtaining the certification.”

Among those for whom the CMS4S certification would be appropriate, she notes, are MS4 program coordinators with experience in such areas as overall program management; managing all six minimum Phase II control measures (public education and outreach, public participation, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction-site runoff control, post-construction runoff control, and good housekeeping and pollution prevention); controlling or assisting with overall program budget and funds; implementing appropriate ordinances; managing database information related to their NPDES MS4 permit; and compiling and submitting compliance reports to state permitting authorities.

Lending a Hand
Oversight Committee member Sue Clarke, CPESC, CESSWI, financial vice chair of EnviroCert International Inc.’s board of directors, sees CMS4S registrants as providing a valuable resource for the Phase II communities.

“There are so many small jurisdictions that don’t have people on staff who understand the stormwater permit requirements,” she says. “In some cases, the entire public works and plan review group might be just two people. This would be a great opportunity for a professional with a CMS4S certification who could help them in various ways, from developing and implementing the jurisdiction’s stormwater management program to writing erosion and sediment control design manuals, ordinances, and regulations.

“Also, a number of states are starting to audit Phase II MS4s. That’s another opportunity for CMS4S registrants who could review stormwater management programs to make sure they meet the MS4 permit requirements and that the correct reporting and documentation procedures are being followed.”

As with each of the other certifications programs offered by EnviroCert International Inc., CMS4S applicants must meet educational and experience requirements, submit references, and subscribe to a code of conduct and ethics. They must also pass a rigorous written exam covering the principles, practices, and legislation of stormwater management. To maintain their certification, registrants are required to meet certain professional development unit (PDU) standards.

For details about CMS4S certification, contact EnviroCert International Inc. by phone at 828-655-1600, or on the Internet at