The non-profit advocacy group Environmental Integrity Project says the failure is leading to threats in wildlife habitat.
The group looked at storm water enforcement in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. It found that state agencies there can't enforce even a fraction of the 20,000 storm water permits for industrial and construction sites.
The runoff is in the form of heavy metals, bacteria, oil, debris and other pollutants. The group says it's making its way into the region's streams, where it's hurting ecosystems.