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EPA Proposes To Withdraw Numeric Limit in Its Construction Stormwater Effluent Limits Rule

On April 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule to withdraw the nationwide numeric limit in its 2009 Construction and Development Effluent Limitations Guidelines (C&D ELG) and to revise several of the non-numeric requirements.  The numeric limit would have required, at a minimum, the monitoring of turbidity levels in the stormwater discharges from construction jobsites and the implementation of controls to avoid exceeding the allowable limit.  The estimated cost to industry would have been $10 billion a year. 

The numeric limit and monitoring requirements have been on hold, or stayed, since 2011; however, they still appear in the Code of Federal Regulations and cause confusion as states revise their permits.  EPA is now proposing to withdraw these requirements and provide clarity to permitting authorities that this standard is not required to be incorporated into permits, i.e., state-specific construction stormwater permits. 

Furthermore, the proposed rule amends and clarifies the following non-numeric requirements to —

  • Control stormwater volume and velocity (also provides greater clarity on appropriate controls during construction and implementation times);
  • Control stormwater discharges to minimize channel and streambank erosion in the immediate vicinity of discharge points;
  • Provide and maintain natural buffers around waters of the United States;
  • Minimize soil compaction and preserve topsoil;
  • Stabilize disturbed areas and
  • Minimize the exposure of building materials, waste, etc., to precipitation and to stormwater.

As previously reported, EPA has proposed these changes to the C&D ELG pursuant to a settlement agreement with the National Association of Home Builders and other parties.  While not a named party in the lawsuit, AGC has been integrally involved in EPA’s efforts to develop appropriate controls for construction site stormwater runoff for more than 15 years.  AGC carefully coordinated its most recent activities with the lawyers and others involved in the C&D ELG lawsuit.

An AGC analysis of the proposed rule will be forthcoming.  The proposed rule is available on EPA’s website at http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/construction/index.cfm.  Comments are due May 31, 2013.

AGC’s Leah Pilconis, senior environmental advisor, is out of the office until April 8th.  In the interim, direct urgent requests for information to Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.

 

What do you think?