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The long-awaited proposal for Effluent Limitation Guidelines for the construction industry released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week would add about $1.9 billion annually to the cost of developing property, according to EPA estimates.
As they now stand, effluent guideline standards (ELGs) apply to municipal sewage treatment plants and wastewater discharges into surface waters. As a result of a National Resources Defense Council lawsuit, the EPA was directed in 2006 to write ELGs for the construction industry as well.
One EPA proposal would require all job sites to use erosion and sediment control best management practices (BMPs) to reduce pollutants in storm water discharges. Construction sites disturbing 10 or more acres at a time would also be required to install sediment basins to treat their storm water discharges. NAHB will support this proposal in its comments.
Sites that comprise 30 acres or more in rainy areas of the country or where soils have high clay content would be required to meet a numeric limit for turbidity, a measure of sediment in the water. As a result, many builders and developers would have to treat and filter their stormwater discharges if the proposal becomes law. NAHB is still studying this proposal.
In an alternative plan — one that NAHB opposes — the turbidity limit would be required of sites that disturb 10 acres or more.
The turbidity limit is intended to remove fine-grained and slowly settling or “non-settleable” particles contained in stormwater, according to the EPA.
“Particles such as clays and fine silts contained in stormwater discharges from construction sites typically cannot be effectively removed by conventional stormwater BMPs (such as sediment basins). In order to meet the proposed numeric turbidity limit, many sites would need to use chemical treatment and filtration of their stormwater discharges,” the EPA said on its Web site.
NAHB has advocated better training and education programs for construction site managers on complying with EPA’s existing rules and regulations rather than implementing numeric limits for ELGs — which presents additional compliance issues because rainfall amounts are difficult to predict.
NAHB will prepare additional comments on the 201-page proposal over the next several months.
For more information, e-mail Ty Asfaw at NAHB, or call her at 800-266-5242 x8124.
“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.