NAHB Jumpstarts Response to 2017 CGP

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construction siteThis post was updated April 22.

NAHB has been knee-deep in the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2017 draft Construction General Permit (CGP) since its release earlier this week. The document provides states with a model to use in developing their own stormwater management requirements for home builders and developers.

In addition to providing model language for most states, the CGP applies in states where EPA is the direct permitting authority, including: New Mexico, Idaho, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Once approved, the permit will remain in effect for five years.

Good news and bad news:

On the positive side, NAHB is pleased to see the agency did not insert any expensive numeric requirements tied to turbidity, or how cloudy the water is. EPA formally withdrew a nationwide numeric limit on turbidity in 2014 after an NAHB lawsuit led the court to overturn faulty science behind the proposal.

Despite this victory, NAHB has several concerns. EPA wants to know what people think about requiring home builders to make their stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs) publicly available. Posting these large, complex documents on a government website poses complications, from privacy issues to whether government sites could effectively handle these massive amounts of data.

In addition, SWPPPs change as a project evolves. An initial SWPPP rarely looks like the final, so it is doubtful that such a “sunshine” requirement would be worth the high costs to both builders and state governments to administer it.

NAHB plans to use the 2017 CGP as an opportunity to challenge EPA to work out longstanding implementation glitches, including duplication and redundancies in the SWPPP development process that have plagued builders for years. Other troubling aspects include stricter inspection timelines, restrictions on runoff from building wash-downs and new controls related to PCBs.

Based on recent conversations with EPA leadership and NAHB victories earlier this year (EPA released a package of streamlined CGP compliance materials for small builders in direct response to NAHB’s request last December), the association is hopeful that calls for common-sense reform in the construction compliance arena will continue to be heard.

Comments are due May 26, but NAHB on April 21 NAHB requested an extension to allow further study of the proposals and adequate time to inform our members about some of the more significant changes.

If you’d like to participate in NAHB’s comments to EPA, contact Environmental Policy Program Manager Eva Birk by Friday, April 22. NAHB members can also submit individual comments directly to EPA. And if you would like a detailed list of the changes proposed, just keep reading:

Summary of Draft 2017 CGP Revisions

  • Request for comment on feasibility of making SWPPPs publicly available.
  • Request for comment on requiring a “joint” SWPPP for same common plan of development.
  • Stricter inspection, stabilization completion timelines (reduced from 14 to 7 days).
  • Suggested controls for PCBs during demolition.
  • Restrictions on runoff from building wash-downs.
  • Provisions to bring the permit in compliance with the 2014 Construction and Development “ELG” (Effluent Limitations Guidelines) rule.
  • Requirement to temporarily stabilize all inactive stockpiles

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