Clock Runs Down on Replacing Expiring Stormwater Permits
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposed Construction General Permit for stormwater discharges to replace the current permit, which expires on July 1.
The EPA recognizes it faces a challenge to avoid a gap in coverage for construction activities between the time the permit runs out and its replacement is issued.
“Given that the agency is accepting comments until June 16 and the permit expires on July 1, it is not clear that they will meet this deadline,” said Susan Asmus, NAHB’s staff vice president for environmental and labor safety policy.
Construction General Permits regulate the discharge of stormwater from construction sites that disturb at least one acre of land, and from sites smaller than one acre that are within a common development plan. The permit requires construction site operators to implement stormwater controls and develop plans to prevent sediment and other pollutants from running off construction sites.
The Construction General Permit — a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued under the authority of the Clean Water Act — applies in states and other jurisdictions where the U.S. EPA is charged with issuing stormwater discharge permits. These include Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho, Alaska, the District of Columbia, most of the U.S. territories and most Indian Country lands.
The remaining states issue their own NPDES permits in accordance with Clean Water Act regulations, which direct the federal government to give permitting authority to states that meet certain requirements. These states are required to ensure that their programs are consistent with the federal version when the permits come up for renewal.
Under its proposal, the EPA would accept permits issued by Qualifying Local Programs, which are usually run by cities, counties or other local governments for erosion and sediment control. This is an improvement that would prevent builders and developers from having to go through the permit application process twice.
However, the new permit process makes no revisions to clarify the obligations of builders constructing a single home on a single lot, and it does not reference a proposal aimed at making that clarification that was submitted by NAHB in November.
NAHB is continuing to discuss with the EPA a court-mandated proposal to add Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs) to the Construction General Permit program. The association is opposed to such a plan, Asmus said, because construction site effluents are not in the same class as the pollutants from factories and power plants that are the subject of these guidelines.
NAHB and the Associated General Contractors of America have intervened in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA to defend the agency’s decision not to issue ELGs for the construction industry. That brief was filed late last year, and a hearing has been scheduled for July 17.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.
Are You Ready for a Visit From the EPA?
“Storm Water Permitting: A Guide for Builders and Developers,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides a starting point for builders and developers to use in locating and understanding storm water permitting requirements.
The publication has been prepared to help builders comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's storm water requirements, and includes information on state permitting programs and more than 50 of the most commonly used Best Management Practices.
Also included are tips on compliance, including how to handle visits from inspectors.
To view or purchase this guide online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.