EPA Mulls Expanding Stormwater Permits to Groundwater Discharges

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Environmental by on June 26, 2018 1 Comment

A septic tank pipe peeks out from a beautiful lawn on a spring day.NAHB is fighting back against an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal that could regulate some discharges to groundwater and subject thousands of septic systems and green infrastructure practices to the federal permitting process.

EPA is only requesting comments at this point. But if EPA decides to regulate discharges to groundwater, these additional permits could increase costs and legal liability for both home builders and home owners.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued under the Clean Water Act only apply to pollutant discharges to surface waters, which include stormwater discharges from construction sites greater than one acre.

However, EPA has interpreted the act to also apply to discharges to groundwater “with a direct hydrologic connection” to surface water.

For example, the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that the NPDES program applies to wastewater discharged into underground injection wells when pollutants reach the ocean via groundwater that is hydrologically connected to the ocean.

NAHB sent EPA comments strongly opposing issuing permits for discharges to groundwater and affirming that the act does not apply to groundwater. Further, NAHB pointed out, EPA already has authority to address water quality problems caused by pollutant releases to groundwater and doesn’t need to ask for additional regulations.

EPA received over 900 comments on this issue, with many industry and municipal groups joining NAHB in opposition.

For additional information, contact John Kosco or read a copy of the comments NAHB submitted to EPA.

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  1. John Bitely says:

    Wow, we build a ton of homes in Michigan that have septic. We also build a lot of homes on lots bigger than 1 acre. Talk about regulation that would have unintended catastrophic consequences.

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