Environmental Permitting, Special Topics in Environmental Management

Do you Qualify for a Construction Stormwater Low Erosivity Waiver?

If you are planning a small construction project now or in the future, did you know that you may qualify for a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or your state permitting authority? Projects that qualify for the waiver are exempt from the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) construction stormwater permitting scheme.

During storm events, exposed soil and sediment at construction sites can run off-site and into water resources nearby. To protect water quality, the CWA requires certain construction projects to obtain a permit before breaking ground. Construction projects that disturb 1 or more acres of land or projects that disturb less than 1 acre but that are part of a common plan of development require a construction stormwater permit.

However, certain small construction sites may qualify for a Low Erosivity Waiver (LEW) from their applicable NPDES permitting program. Erosivity is a method of describing the likelihood for soil to wash off disturbed, bare earth during a precipitation event. Several localized factors are at play when determining a site’s erosivity, such as soil type, geology, force of precipitation, and freeze/thaw cycles. Projects that qualify will save time and money by avoiding meandering through the NPDES permitting process.

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