By Jeryl L. Olson

On February 16, 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released three general permits for stormwater discharges from construction sites that will be in effect in states where EPA has primary authority over the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program:  Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories and Tribal Lands.  The general permit replaces the permit first issued in 2008 for construction-related run off which expired on February 15, 2012.  In addition to its applicability to construction site stormwater for those states listed above, the permit will apply to sites in Oklahoma where construction is associated with oil and gas exploration and drilling and pipeline activities.  Similarly, the permit will apply to Texas sites where construction involves oil, gas or geothermal exploration and development and will apply to construction sites involved in crude oil protection and transportation.  Affected construction sites which currently are covered by the original permit should submit notices of intent to be covered under the new permit by May 16, 2012.  For any new construction projects the electronic analyze can be filed 14 days prior to the project.

The permit for stormwater discharge from construction sites regulates construction-related run off from activities such as excavation, grading and clearing, and requires the development of stormwater pollution prevention plans designed to minimize erosion and prevent sediment impact. Facilities subject to the permit will need to comply with discharge limits developed in 2009 by using best management practices; the permit will not include limits on turbidity which will be subject to future rulemaking.