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During a meeting of NAHB’s Environmental Issues Committee during the spring board of directors meeting last month, builders told staff members from the Environmental Protection Agency of their concerns over the proposed Construction General Permit (CGP) for storm water.
The EPA issued a revised CGP for public comment on April 25. The CGP is the permit issued under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program to authorize the discharge of storm water from construction sites.
Federal law requires the EPA to issue this permit and renew it every five years.
With the current permit set to expire this month, the EPA has proposed an extension under which the current permit would not expire until Jan. 31, 2012.
Although the CGP applies only where the EPA is the permitting authority — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho, Washington, D.C., most territories and most Indian country lands — it also serves as a model for the permits issued in the delegated states.
“We appreciate the folks from the EPA coming by to talk about the construction general permit and other storm water issues,” said Bobby Bowling, chairman of the Environmental Issues Committee and a builder from El Paso, Texas.
“We don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of the issues,” Bowling said, “but Greg understands these are complex issues that cost builders a lot of time and money and energy. It’s productive for the EPA staff to hear the practical application of the rules they implement.”
The CGP regulates the discharge of storm water from construction sites that disturb one acre or more of land, and from smaller sites that are part of a common plan of development.
The permit requires operators of these sites to implement storm water controls and develop Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs).
Issues that generated extended discussion included buffer requirements, requirements for development projects involving multiple developers, required corrective actions and exceptions for rainfall that exceeds the two-year, 24-hour storm event volume.
The proposed new CGP includes a number of modifications, many of which are to implement the new Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs) and New Source Performance Standards for Construction and Development Point Sources, which was published on Dec. 1, 2009.
In addition to the CGP requirements, the ELG rule requires construction site operators to meet restrictions on erosion and sediment control, pollution prevention and stabilization.
It also includes a numeric turbidity limit for certain larger construction sites, but effective Jan. 4, 2011, EPA stayed the numeric limit of 280 NTU that was published in the 2009 rule.
The agency will propose a revised numeric limit in a future rulemaking. For now, the proposed CGP includes a placeholder for a final number.
To ensure that the agency has sufficient time to finalize the new CGP, the EPA is also proposing the extension of its expiration date until Jan. 31, 2012.
NAHB is concerned that if the agency does not extend the existing permit, it will put existing permit holders in limbo and prohibit new permittees from obtaining CGPs for new projects.
For a copy of NAHB's comment letter to the EPA on the extension of the CGP, click here.
EPA is seeking comments on the proposed draft CGP permit by June 24.
For more information, email Ty Asfaw at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 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 stormwater 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.