NAHB Helps EPA Simplify Stormwater Permitting Process for Small Builders

Builders know that to protect nearby rivers and streams from the effects of stormwater discharge from a jobsite, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires developers and builders to apply for a Construction General Permit (CGP) before they begin work on any project that disturbs more than one acre of land.

Builders must also apply for projects on smaller lots if they are part of a larger land development project that will disturb more than one acre of land.

As a result, most builders who purchase a single lot from a developer still need to perform all the CGP permitting steps, like developing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPP) and corresponding paperwork as the developer for the same parcel of land.

That duplicative permitting burden and resulting confusion has long been a concern, and NAHB has more than once pitched the idea of a “single lot permit” to EPA staff, most recently during the 2012 renewal of the CGP.

Now, it looks like EPA is paying attention. The agency has approached NAHB with a new draft template that, if finalized, could help simplify development of the SWPP for single lot builders. It allows them to choose from a menu of best management practices (BMPs), such as swales and silt fences, to control discharges so the agency knows what the builder plans to do. EPA’s single lot template includes a site map page where the builder can provide a simple drawing to show where the required stormwater management BMPs will be located.

The Single Lot Builder GCP template would only cover builders who purchase no more than five building lots within a single residential subdivision that already has coverage under EPA’s CGP.  Furthermore, it only covers land disturbing activities on the building lot itself, so it’s not a permit for the construction of roads or other infrastructure such as sewer lines.

Finally, it doesn’t apply in environmentally sensitive areas, including those with federally protected species or designated critical habitat, anything that disturbs the soil within 50 feet of a “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act, or with historic properties.

If finalized, the template will only apply where EPA runs the stormwater program: Idaho, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. However, EPA will encourage the other 45 states to use it as well.

NAHB staff and builder members of the Environmental Issues Committee are reviewing the draft template and encourage additional comments from all members. However, everything needs to be back to EPA by June 19. Comments or suggestions? Please contact Mike Mittelholzer.

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  1. Robert Myers says:

    The overall burden of confirming with these regs is way more burdensome than this would relieve. What about the” issue reports after .5″of rain” or the weekly filing of inspections, the inane seeding of dirt that’s not worked for 14 days etc. on individual lots. If the epa is in a mood to make some practical adjustments, let’s really get at it. Let’s see if we can get them to understand and codify the difference between building a house and building a 20 ac strip mall.

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