Special Topics in Environmental Management

EHS Managers Guide to the New 2012 Construction Stormwater General Permit

Eligibility for Emergency-Related Construction

EPA provides immediate authorization for construction activities required for response to public emergencies (e.g., natural disaster such as a tornado or hurricane, widespread disruption in essential public services). Immediate authorization will enable work that is necessary to avoid imminent endangerment to human health or the environment, or to reestablish essential public services, to proceed without administrative delay. The construction operator must submit an NOI and develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) within 30 calendar days after commencing earth-disturbing activities, whereas typically operators must submit NOIs 14 days prior to commencing earth-disturbing activities.

Eligibility for Use of Treatment Chemicals

EPA authorizes the use of polymers, flocculants, or other treatment chemicals at sites provided operators using treatment chemicals comply with the requirements in Part of the permit. The use of cationic treatment chemicals is not eligible for permit coverage unless the applicable EPA Regional Office specifically approves its use together with any additional controls necessary to ensure that the use of such chemicals does not result in an exceedance of applicable water quality standards.

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Endangered Species and Historic Properties Requirements

Construction operators are required to follow the procedures for determining eligibility related to the protection of listed endangered or threatened species and their critical habitat and to the consideration of impacts to historic properties.

Stabilization Requirements

The permit includes modified stabilization requirements that define more specifically what EPA requires for temporary and final stabilization.

Pollution Prevention

Beyond adopting the specific C&D rule requirements for pollution prevention and the prohibition of certain discharges, the final permit includes specific control requirements that ensure pollutant discharges are eliminated or minimized, depending on the source. The pollution prevention requirements restrict the discharge of a wide range of construction-related chemicals and materials, including fertilizers, at construction sites.

Water Quality-Based Effluent Limits

In addition to general requirements that protect water quality in all receiving waters, the final permit includes specific requirements that apply to sites discharging to waters impaired for common pollutants associated with construction activities, such as sediment and nutrients, and to sites discharging to high quality waters. For such sites, construction activities are subject to additional requirements, including tighter stabilization deadlines (complete stabilization within 7 calendar days of the temporary or permanent cessation of construction activities) and more frequent site inspections. The permit also includes additional requirements for waters identified as Tier 2, Tier 2.5, or Tier 3 for antidegradation purposes.

Site Inspections

The frequency of inspections generally is increased relative to the 2008 CGP. According to EPA, inspections are a cost-effective means of ensuring that controls are operating properly and thus protecting water quality. The storm event size that triggers site inspections for those using a storm-based schedules is also decreased from a 0.5 inch storm event to a 0.25 inch storm event. EPA has found that most storm events of 0.25 inches or greater do lead to discharges, so that inspection is warranted if the operator is using a storm-based inspection schedule. For multi-day storms, EPA has also clarified that an inspection is required both during or after the first day of the event and after the end of the event. As in the 2008 CGP, operators may also choose a fixed inspections schedule that is not storm dependent. EPA makes explicit the requirement for permittees to visually assess the quality of the discharge (e.g., color, odor, floating, settled, or suspended solids) if the site inspection occurs during a discharge-generating rain event.

icant repair or replacement, or if problem can be corrected through routine maintenance.

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Corrective Actions

Although the 2008 CGP required corrective action, it did not include specific requirements instructing the permittee as to what conditions trigger specific corrective actions and what deadlines apply. The final permit includes specific triggering conditions for corrective action as well as deadlines to fix such problems and document what was done.

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

The SWPPP requirements are modified in accordance with the changes discussed above. In general, the requirements are more specific than, but consistent with the 2008 CGP.

Notice of Termination

EPA includes additional requirements that affect when a site may terminate coverage under the CGP. For instance, beyond enabling sites to terminate coverage when earth-disturbing activities have stopped and the site is stabilized, the permit requires the removal of all temporary stormwater controls and construction materials, waste, and waste handling devices.

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