Proterra Design Group

May 20, 2010

Land Disturbance Permitting

Filed under: Environmental Permitting,Resources — admin @ 3:23 pm

Do you have a project that will disturb > 1 acre of land?  If so you may need to file for coverage under a NPDES Construction General Permit (CGP).

The Construction General Permit (CGP) is a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued under the authority of the Clean Water Act.  This stormwater permit is frequently overlooked by developers and is necessary prior to commencement of earth moving activities. Most states are authorized to implement the NPDES permit program, including the stormwater program, however EPA still administers the permitting program in four states (MA, NH, NM, ID), the District of Columbia, most of the territories, and in most Indian Country Lands. Use this list to determine if your state operates the NPDES stormwater program.

Construction activities (which include soil disturbing activities such as clearing, grading, excavating, stockpiling, etc.) that disturb one or more acres, or smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development or sale, are required to prepare and submit a Notice of Intent and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan or more often referred to as a “SWIP”, must identify erosion controls and operations to be implemented prior to and during construction operations.  The disturbed soil, if not managed properly, can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and enter water bodies causing an array of physical, chemical and biological impacts.

More recently, states such as Massachusetts have implemented the preparation of SWPPP’s for the individual project site into the wetlands permitting process. Under current Massachusetts’s DEP Stormwater Management Handbook & Regulations promulgated in February 2008, any jurisdictional filing must meet “Standard 8” and include A plan to control construction related whether or not they disturb 1 acre. However, often one document can be used to satisfy both requirements.

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) and new source performance standards (NSPS) to control the discharge of pollutants from construction sites. The Construction and Development ELG, or “C&D Rule” became effective on February 1, 2010. After this date, all permits issued by EPA or states must incorporate requirements that provide  a technology-based “floor” that establishes minimum requirements for the discharge of pollutants. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges. EPA is phasing in the numeric limitation over four years to allow permitting authorities adequate time to develop monitoring requirements and to allow the regulated community time to prepare for compliance with the numeric limitation. Beginning on August 1, 2011 all sites that disturb 20 or more acres of land at one time are required to comply with the turbidity limitation. On February 2, 2014 the limitation applies to all construction sites disturbing 10 or more acres of land at one time. These sites must sample stormwater discharges and comply with a numeric limitation for turbidity.

For more information on the CGP permitting process visit the EPA’s website and contact us here at ProTerra Design Group and we can walk you through the process to get your new project covered or on the path to compliance for your current endeavor.

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