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Stormwater Runoff From Construction Activities Subject to New EPA 2017 General Permit

Construction companies, general contractors, developers, and property owners involved in land clearance and disturbance activities will want to take note of the new Stormwater Construction General Permit (Construction General Permit) issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that took effect Feb. 16.

As with earlier Construction General Permits, the 2017 permit applies to land clearance and disturbance activities greater that 1 acre and requires site operators to comply with best management practices, effluent limits and other permit requirements, including developing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

Currently, a Construction General Permit is only required for construction projects in locations where EPA administers the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). These locations include:

  • Idaho;
  • Massachusetts;
  • New Hampshire;
  • New Mexico;
  • District of Columbia;
  • limited areas of Oklahoma and Texas;
  • federal lands; and
  • United States territories.

However, the Construction General Permit serves as a model for state environmental agencies looking to update their own stormwater general permits, so it is likely that many of the changes contained in the EPA’s 2017 Construction General Permit will find their way into state permits in the near future. For this reason, it is important for construction companies, developers and site operators in all states to stay abreast of changes to the EPA’s Construction General Permit.

Notable changes to the 2017 Construction General Permit include the following.

  • Creation of joint and several liability for site operators that divide responsibility for compliance with the Construction General Permit among themselves, or that operate under multiple SWPPPs or a group SWPPP.
  • Required electronic reporting of Notice of Intents and Notice of Terminations through the EPA’s NPDES eReporting Tool.
  • Numerous new site operation and management obligations, including requiring site operators to: post notice near their construction site informing the public of the site’s permit coverage, how to contact the EPA to obtain a copy of the site SWPPP, and how to report a visible discharge to EPA; cover all inactive material stockpiles and debris piles if the piles will remain unused for 14 or more days; close waste container lids when not in use or, if used regularly throughout the day, at the end of the business day; and phase site disturbances to prevent erosion and destabilization of the site soils, including limiting any land disturbance to 5 acres at a time or, if not limited to 5 acres, to a window of seven days or fewer.

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