WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment a draft permit that it said will help improve our nation’s waterways by regulating the discharge of stormwater from construction sites. Stormwater discharges during construction activities can contain sediment and pollutants that harm aquatic ecosystems, increase drinking water treatment costs, and pollute waters that people use for fishing, swimming and other recreational activities.

The proposed Construction General Permit (CGP) includes a number of enhanced protections, including enhanced provisions to protect impaired and sensitive waters. Some of the significant proposed permit modifications include new requirements for:

  • Eligibility for emergency-related construction;
  • Required use of the electronic notice of intent process;
  • Sediment and erosion controls;
  • Natural buffers or alternative controls;
  • Soil stabilization;
  • Pollution prevention;
  • Site inspections;
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans; and
  • Permit termination

Many of the new permit requirements implement new effluent limitations guidelines and new source performance standards for the construction and development industry that became effective on February 1, 2010. These requirements include a suite of erosion and sediment controls and pollution prevention measures that apply to all permitted construction sites.

The permit will be effective in areas where the EPA is the permitting authority, including four states (Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico); Washington, D.C.; most territories; and most Indian country lands.

The public will have 60 days to comment on the draft permit. EPA anticipates that it will issue the final construction general permit by Jan. 31, 2012.

The current permit is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2011; however, EPA is proposing to extend the current permit until Jan. 31, 2012, to provide sufficient time to finalize the new permit.

More information on the proposed construction general is available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/cgp.cfm.