Feds Won’t Extend Deadline for Stormwater Permit

silt fenceDespite introducing major changes that go well above and beyond 2012 language, the Environmental Protection Agency recently refused NAHB’s request to extend the its 45-day comment period for the 2017 Construction General Permit (CGP). Comments are due by May 26.

In addition to providing model language for the 46 states that run their own EPA-approved stormwater permitting programs, the CGP will be the permit for all stormwater discharges from active construction sites in New Mexico, Idaho, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and D.C., where EPA is the direct permitting authority.

NAHB’s biggest concern: EPA is proposing to make each builder or developer’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans, or SWPPPS, publicly available via the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online Database.

Transparency is good, NAHB believes, and inquiring minds and the EPA can see the plans when they want to. But because SWPPS are updated daily as the weather changes or construction progresses, any published data would be out of date almost as soon as it hits the Web.

“We’re confused about where this proposal is coming from,” said NAHB environmental program manager Eva Birk. “Not only is it unprecedented, but it also would provide the public with massive volumes of old data, and potentially subject NAHB members to numerous minor paperwork violations. We believe this is a waste of enforcement time and resources.”

Many states will likely side with NAHB on the public availability of construction site plans. A wide range of stakeholders negotiated over a two-year period with EPA to agree on what kind and how much data would be shared with the agency under the new National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems E-Reporting Rule which, when finalized, specifically omitted construction general permit SWPPPs.

NAHB staff is working with members and coalition groups to make sure EPA understands how these new permit provisions will affect home builders. If you’d like to participate in NAHB’s comments to EPA, contact Eva Birk by May 16. NAHB members can also submit individual comments directly to EPA.

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