• EPA Seeks Public Comment Regarding New Draft Construction Stormwater General Permit
  • June 6, 2011 | Author: Sharon Gwatkin Newman
  • Law Firm: Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios, LLP - Portland Office
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for stormwater discharges from construction activities. EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed construction general permit (CGP); the comment period closes June 24, 2011.

    The current 2008 CGP is set to expire on June 30, 2011. EPA also proposed to extend the 2008 CGP until January 31, 2012 in order to give EPA time to finalize the new permit.

    Proposed new requirements for controlling stormwater discharges at construction sites
    The new permit affects construction sites disturbing one or more acres of land (and smaller sites that are part of a common plan of development or sale) in those states where EPA is the permitting authority. In New England, this includes Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MEDEP) administers the stormwater permitting process for construction in Maine and has issued its own Maine CGP.

    It can be expected that any new requirements in the EPA CGP will be incorporated into state construction stormwater permits as they are re-issued. Therefore, members of the construction and development industry, whether or not in a state subject to the EPA CGP, may wish to comment on the proposed federal CGP in order to influence any subsequent permitting actions taken by EPA or by State regulators.

    The new CGP will include a number of modifications from its predecessor, including new requirements for:

    • use of the electronic Notice of Intent
    • eligibility for emergency-related construction
    • erosion and sediment controls
    • natural buffers or alternative controls
    • soil stabilization
    • dewatering
    • pollution prevention measuressite inspections
    • stormwater pollution prevention plans
    • permit termination

    The proposed CGP is designed to provide enhanced protections for impaired or other sensitive waters. For sites of 10 acres or more, new requirements would include sampling against benchmark standards, more rapid site stabilization, and increased site inspections. The CGP was to include a numeric limit for turbidity at construction sites of 10 acres or more. However, EPA has issued a stay for the numeric limit for turbidity so that the limit can be reviewed; it remains to be seen whether this numeric limit will be included in the final permit.