EPA Proposes Changes to Construction General Permit Regulating Construction Activity Stormwater Discharges

Environmental Law

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently proposed to reissue the Construction General Permit (CGP). The CGP, a general permit issued under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), authorizes certain stormwater discharges from construction activities subject to NPDES regulations. The reissued CGP will replace EPA’s 2012 version which will expire on February 16, 2017.

The proposed CGP contains several minor, new, or modified requirements including, among others, the following changes to the expiring 2012 permit:

  • The proposed CGP requires that authorized non-stormwater discharges of external building washdown waters not contain hazardous substances, such as paint or caulk containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).
  • CGP holders must include contact information for the EPA in the public notices that are to be posted at a safe, publicly-accessible location in close proximity to the construction site.
  • The proposed CGP changes the requirement for temporary stabilization for stockpiles or land-clearing debris piles from “where practicable” to require cover or appropriate temporary stabilization for all inactive piles that will be unused for 14 or more days.
  • The proposed CGP requires waste-container lids to be kept closed when not in use, or, for waste containers that do not have lids and could leak, permittees are required to provide cover or a similarly effective means to minimize the risk of discharge of pollutants.
  • In connection with demolition of structures with at least 10,000 square feet of floor space that were built or renovated prior to January 1, 1980, the proposed CGP requires permittees to implement pollution prevention controls to minimize the discharge of pollutants in stormwater and to prevent the discharge of pollutants from spilled or leaked materials from construction activities to minimize the exposure of building materials containing PCB to precipitation and stormwater.

In addition to these proposed changes to the CGP, EPA is also soliciting comments on other potential changes to the CGP that are being considering, relating to, among other things: (i) requirements for a group Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for sites with multiple operators; (ii) modifications of the site stabilization deadlines; (iii) increasing site inspection frequency; and (iv) requiring operators to make the SWPPP available to the public.

Construction operators located in geographic areas where the EPA is the NPDES permitting authority will be subject to the regulations of the reissued CGP that will take effect in 2017. In states where the EPA is not the NPDES permitting authority, such as New York, the state-issued permit requirements must meet the minimum requirements of the CGP. Thus, state-permitting authorities, in practice, will often follow EPA and its changes to the CGP.

For more information on regulation of stormwater discharges from construction activities, please contact Miriam Villani or Joseph Bjarnson.

 

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