Effluent Limitation Guidelines for Construction Sites Effective February 1, 2010
Environmental Law Update 02/02/10 Thomas P. McElligott, Lauren G. Harpke
On February 1, 2010, a new Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") stormwater rule took effect that will impact a large number of construction sites and development projects throughout the country. Although the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permitting program previously required stormwater discharge permits at construction sites, the NPDES program did not impose standardized discharge limitations, monitoring requirements, or other performance standards for discharges originating at construction sites. EPA's new rule, however, will ultimately impose numerical discharge limits, in addition to requiring monitoring and the implementation of various pollution control measures at certain construction sites.
Under the new rule, effective February 1, 2010, the required controls must be incorporated into all stormwater discharge permits for construction sites issued after the effective date. Numerical discharge and turbidity limitations will be phased in over a four-year period for large construction sites, and non-numeric limitations or requirements will apply immediately to all construction sites larger than one acre in size. Non-numeric limitations include implementation of best management practices for soil stabilization and sediment controls. Additionally, the rule will prohibit discharges from vehicle operation and maintenance or discharges from dewatering activities.
Since most states are authorized to implement the NPDES program within their respective states, the new rule's requirements must be incorporated into each permitting authority's construction stormwater permit. The rule provides a phase-in period to account for the fact that it will take some time for the required changes to go through the administrative rulemaking process in each state in order to be appropriately incorporated into each stormwater discharge permit.