• California Agency Adopts New Statewide Construction Stormwater Permit
  • September 10, 2009 | Authors: Shawn D. Hagerty; J.G. Andre Monette
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - San Diego Office
  • The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted a new version of its permit regulating stormwater discharges from construction sites and other land disturbance activities such as grading and landscaping.

    Effective July 2010, the permit will impose significant new site design and construction management restrictions on any construction activity over one acre in size. The State Board has spent more than two years developing the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction and Land Disturbance Activities (“General Construction Permit”). 

    Under the new permit, those undertaking large construction projects, including linear projects such as pipelines and roads, must adhere to limits on pH and turbidity levels in discharges from the project site, comply with new site-design requirements and conduct increased monitoring and reporting. 

    Prior to adopting the permit yesterday, the State Board made several changes from its latest draft. Most notably, the permit was changed to:

    • Exempt projects that are completed within three years of the permit’s adoption from the permit’s site design requirements. Some projects may obtain longer exemptions with approval from the local Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Executive Officer.
    • Extend the time period for filing permit registration documents ("PRDs") for emergency construction projects. Dischargers will need to file an initial brief description of the work within five days of the emergency and must file all PRDs within 30 days.
    • Modify the exemption for routine maintenance to make it the same as that required by federal law.
    • Add language clarifying that documents that are prohibited from disclosure by Homeland Security cannot be requested by the State Board.
    • Add language limiting the discretion of the Regional Water Quality Control Boards to push grandfathered projects that come in as Risk Level 1 project, into a higher risk level. Only in situations of prior noncompliance or significant risk to water quality can the Regional Board demand that the grandfathered project comply with the requirements for Risk Levels 2 or 3.
    • Remove definitions of conventional/non-conventional pollutants.
    • Add an exemption for an exceedance of the NEL caused by run-on to a construction site from an area damaged by a forest fire or other natural disaster
    • Incorporate sediment TMDLs, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads.

    The State Board may reopen the General Construction Permit for possible updates after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  issues its effluent guidelines for construction site discharges. This could take place as early as December.