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New EPA Construction General Permit

by Brian Bates

As many people in the stormwater profession are aware, EPA issued its Construction General Permit (CGP) in February 2012. The new permit directly affects only the states and territories where EPA operates the permitting processes:

  • Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Mexico
  • District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. territories (not U.S. Virgin Islands)
  • Areas in Colorado, Delaware, Vermont and Washington subject to construction by federal operators
  • Most Indian lands

Since the permitting process doesn’t technically apply to all states, what does this mean to you? According to a recent article, “While EPA’s new CGP applies only in states that do not have authorized Clean Water Act regulatory programs, it is likely either to be adopted outright by states required to modify their existing CGPs over the next three years or at least used as a baseline reference point for the types of requirements that authorized state programs should contain.”

All state-issued CGPs to be issued after January 2011 must comply with the Proposed Effluent Guidelines and Standards for Construction and Development (C&D rules) published by EPA. These rules have some very specific requirements related to things such as site construction entrances, stream buffers, surface outlets, vegetative stabilization and storm water pollution prevention plans (SWPPP). More information on these requirements is available on the EPA’s NPDES site.

Since the EPA CGP was obviously based on the C&D rules (which all states must follow regardless of whether or not they are within EPA’s operating area), it is even that much more logical that most states will use the new CGP as either a guide or a basis of the minimum standards. However, that is not officially its intended purpose. Any draft state permits should be compared to the C&D rules, not EPA’s interpretation of them for a CGP. There is a difference.