Panel Looks at Effluent Rule Impact on Small Business
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to delay a proposal for effluent limit guidelines for the construction industry to allow more time to analyze the impact of the proposal on small businesses.
Under court order to revise its Clean Water Act regulations by 2009, the EPA had planned to issue a proposal this summer. But in response to concerns from NAHB, the agency has agreed to a delay so that a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel can examine the cost implications of the rule.
NAHB members are serving on the panel, which will be meeting periodically through the end of September. The EPA is expected to release its proposal later in the year, after it has taken the panel’s concerns into account.
Effluent limit guidelines are technology-based standards that were designed to control discharges from industrial processes and wastewater treatment. NAHB has long opposed their application to the construction industry because, unlike water coming from a pipe, it’s impossible to control how much rain falls on a construction site.
Applying effluent limit guidelines to the home building industry for storm water discharges could result in builders having to meet numerical limits. NAHB has told the agency that a better solution would be a more flexible approach reflecting the challenges, uncertainties and geographic differences associated with storm water discharges across the country.
NAHB has also urged Congress to direct the EPA to adopt streamlined, cost-effective permit processes; ensure that all water quality enforcement programs are founded on sound science; and provide educational and outreach materials to construction site operators to help increase compliance.
Home building is regulated under Section 402 of the federal Clean Water Act; the clearing, excavating and grading associated with lot and site development can cause soil to wash off the site after rainstorms and affect nearby streams and other water bodies.
In July, NAHB sent a letter to EPA leaders asking them to more carefully consider how effluent limit guidelines would affect the home building industry, emphasizing the inappropriateness of numeric effluent limits for construction-related stormwater discharges.
The agency was urged to adopt a best management plan-based program in lieu of monitoring and sampling requirements targeted at meeting numeric discharge limits.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.