New Construction General Permit for Stormwater Discharges

Posted on 4/10/2012 by James Griffin

On February 16, 2012, U.S. EPA issued a new Construction General Permit for Stormwater Discharges, replacing the 2008 Construction General Permit that expired on February 15, 2012. Clean Water Act permits typically must be renewed every five years.
What is EPA’s Construction General Permit?
The Construction General Permit, or CGP, permits discharges of stormwater from construction activities disturbing one or more acres (or smaller sites that are part of a communal plan for development or sale). Before beginning construction or discharging stormwater, construction operators must apply for and obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, of which the CGP is just one type. NPDES permits are administered by U.S. EPA unless the permitted activity is taking place in a state which has been authorized to operate the NPDES stormwater permit program.
What is a General Permit? How does it differ from an individual permit?
Individual permits are unique to the site or activity for which they are established. Creating, submitting, and gaining approval for an individual permit can be an expensive and time-consuming process. General permits are meant to be generic and cover groups of similarly-situated entities, with the purpose of streamlining permitting requirements and cutting down on the time and cost factors. General permits do not need to be created from scratch, but covered sources need to read the permit carefully and make sure they are doing everything the permit requires.
Which “similarly situated entities” does the 2012 CGP cover?
The new CGP covers thousands of construction operators in non-approved states, (Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico,) Washington D.C., and most US territories, Indian country lands, and certain activities within Colorado, Delaware, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. The full list of eligible areas can be found here on EPA’s web site.
While other states are to operate their own NPDES stormwater permit program, many incorporate the EPA’s CGP. Some have their own versions or variations on the federal CGP. Those state variations must be at least as protective of the environment as the Federal permit.
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What’s changed between the 2008 CGP and the 2012 CGP?
Some of the significant permit modifications in the CGP include new and revised requirements and procedures:
  • New Criteria for Eligible Activities
    • Emergency-related construction is now eligible for CGP
    • Certain treatment chemicals are now ineligible for CGP
  • Modified Administrative Procedures ◦Electronic Notice of Intent process
    • Site inspections
    • Corrective action
    • Permit termination
  • New and Revised Requirements for: ◦Sediment and erosion controls
    • Natural buffers or alternative controls
    • Soil stabilization
    • Pollution prevention
    • Water quality-based effluent limits
    • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs)

Tags: Act, Clean, EPA, new rules, Water

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