Washington, D.C. — The Water Environment Federation (WEF) recently provided comments on the Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities. The proposed permit is a renewal of the existing five-year permit that became effective Feb. 16, 2012 and expires on Feb. 16, 2017.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made the draft permit available for a 45-day public comment period, which concluded on May 26, 2016.
The permit included a number of updates and proposals to which EPA specifically requested public feedback. These were comprised of
- a proposal for the allowance of group Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs);
- requiring authorized non-stormwater discharges (external structure washdown waters) to not contain hazardous substances, (e.g. PCBs);
- decreasing timelines for final site stabilization from 14 to 7 days;
- a request for identification of potential best management practices (BMPs) to reduce the effect of construction associated dewatering activities;
- increased required site inspection frequencies;
- a proposed requirement for a specified site inspection frequency for sites with snowmelt runoff; and
- increased public access to SWPPPs.
The proposed permit is immediately applicable only to jurisdictions and tribal groups who do not run their own programs and have designated authority granted by EPA. However, it is reasonable that elements of the updated permit will be mimicked in many state run construction stormwater general permit programs.
WEF’s comments and recommendations focused on how the permit might affect entities — municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) communities, localities, tribal groups, etc. — where the permit would be implemented.
Highlights of WEF’s comments include
- recognition of the need to make SWPPPs available to the public to be consistent with other federal stormwater permits, such as industrial and MS4s (WEF offered suggestions to EPA on how to address the challenges associated with granting greater public access);
- general concurrence that addressing potential toxics in source washdown waters is a preferable and more cost-effective method of addressing pollutants than waiting until after they have entered waterbodies and downstream conveyance systems; and
- recommendations regarding inspection frequencies and final site stabilization timelines.
Download a PDF of WEF’s complete comments to EPA at http://stormwater.wef.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/WEF-Comments-to-EPA-on-General-Permit-for-Stormwater-Discharges-from-Construction-Activities-May-26-2016.pdf.