EPA Discusses Quick and Easy Permits for Stormwater

More than 300 registrants tuned in on Tuesday to get the details about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new, streamlined single-lot permit template designed to meet federal stormwater management requirements.

Right now, home builders in the four states that EPA directly oversees on stormwater − New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Idaho, as well as Washington, D.C. − can start using the new compliance template. But more than half the callers who participated in Tuesday’s webinar are regulators: water quality officials interested in figuring out how to apply the streamlined template in their own jurisdictions when their programs are up for their every-five-year EPA renewals.

The simplified template introduced in December is “a game changer,” said Greg Schaner, attorney advisor for EPA. Cutting its size from about 100 to less than 2o pages is expected to save home builders time, money and environmental consultant fees.

Using this template, home builders doing clearing, grading and excavating on lots of less than an acre within an existing development no longer have to write extensive narratives describing the best management practices they are using to keep stormwater and the sediment and other pollutants from leaving their jobsite after it rains.  Instead, it’s a series of boxes to check  describing the steps they are taking. Silt fences? Check. Rock pads to pick up the dirt from truck tires when they roll off the site? Check.

“It’s not perfect yet,” said NAHB Program Manager for Environmental Policy Eva Birk, who worked closely with EPA to advise them on the new template. “But it’s a great first step.”

“We still have a long way to go to revamp duplicative and confusing compliance processes on water – our builders want clean water in their communities,” Birk continued. “They also want common-sense regulations that you don’t need a doctoral degree to unravel. NAHB is happy to be facilitating the conversation with EPA around how we can move in this direction at the national level.”

The long-form permit process was designed to apply to industrial uses, road building, and all kinds of heavy-duty land development activities. “It’s one size fits all,” Schaner said. Small home builders “just get wrapped up in there.”

While most smaller builders will be able to take advantage of the streamlined permit when the state makes it available, there will be exceptions:

  • Projects must be located outside of sensitive areas (areas with endangered species concerns, historic preservation issues, wetlands).
  • Projects must not cause disturbance within 50 feet of a jurisdictional water of the U.S.
  • Projects must not require the use of chemical treatment for stormwater.
  • Projects must not disturb steep slopes.

See a replay of the webinar here. The “first round” of states interested in taking action on adopting the template will move forward this spring. Any any state that wants to participate or builders who want additional information should contact  Eva Birk at 800-368-5242 x8124.

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Comments (4)

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  1. John Madden says:

    that’s the biggest joke ive read in a while.

    good in just three states

    thks for the entertainment.

    any other carrots you can dangle out there for me.

    • NAHB Now says:

      The good news is that more than 150 state and local water quality regulators listened in on this webinar. They want to see if this abbreviated permit process can work in states other than the four that EPA regulates directly. Please email Eva Birk at ebirk@nahb.org — or ask your HBA to talk to her — to see how to get things going.

  2. BLee says:

    When you reach 10% of the population, land area, or number of states affected in the US let us know. Until then, your demographics show nothing in the way of where development is truly occurring and where the regulations have had the most affect. Who’s at the publishing helm on these topics? Seems like more and more are not in touch with the membership!

  3. jim bowlby says:

    Yes unfortunately, this applies only to the three states shown that don’t have Clean Water Act jurisdiction, federal facilities (such as DOD facilities) and Native American tribal lands. It’s now up to the HBA and other entities to promote this concept to the other 47 states where most of the housing construction takes place.

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