Clean Water Act

2012 Deadlines and New Requirements Established in Ohio’s New General Permit for Industrial Storm Water Discharges

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Ohio EPA recently issued its new Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Industrial Storm Water Discharges (Ohio EPA General Permit Number OHR000005).  The existing general permit expired at the end of May 2011, and Ohio EPA spent several months soliciting input from industry and regulatory groups to develop a permit that is consistent with US EPA’s MSGP. There are 2012 deadlines for submittals associated with coverage under the new MSGP, along with a series of new requirements. The remainder of this blog describes the deadlines for submittals required to maintain coverage under the new MSGP, and the new permit requirements.

The new MSGP is a significant shift from the previous general permit.  The new MSGP has grown from 36 pages to more than 140 pages.  The previous permit included broad, non-facility specific, monitoring and recordkeeping requirements. The new MSGP establishes industry-specific requirements for managing and monitoring storm water discharges.  The new MSGP contains new requirements that were contested by industry groups, including the establishment of benchmarks, quarterly visual sampling, and submittal of an annual report.  The new MSGP places additional burdens on both industry and the regulators by requiring virtually every facility in the state to re-apply for a storm water permit, and to revise or update Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs).

The effective date of the new MSGP is January 1, 2012.  Individual facilities were to be notified by letter, which Ohio EPA should have mailed prior to December 31, 2011.  Ohio EPA indicates that if you do not receive a letter by January 13, 2012, you should immediately contact the agency.

No action is needed by current permit holders until the letter is received from Ohio EPA.  Important submittal deadlines are:

  •  Existing permit holders are to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) within 90 days after receiving written notice from Ohio EPA.
  • SWPPPs for existing permit holders are to be updated within 180 days of the effective date of the General Permit.
  • For facilities not covered under a prior NPDES permit, a SWPPP needs to be prepared before submitting a NOI.  The NOI is to be submitted at least 180 days prior to discharge.

It is important to note that facilities renewing their permits must use the NOI form that Ohio EPA developed for this permit.  The form and instructions  can be downloaded from their website.

All facilities are required to design, install, and implement control measures (including Best Management Practices (BMPs)), and describe them in their SWPPP.  As part of the SWPPP, facilities are required to identify a storm water pollution prevention team.  Annual training will also be required, and the facility will need to maintain documentation concerning the training.

The three types of inspections required by the new MSGP include:

  1. Routine facility inspections that are to be conducted at least quarterly, and in some cases more frequently (i.e., monthly).  Documentation of the inspections will need to be maintained on-site as part of the SWPPP.
  2. Quarterly Visual Assessments of storm water quality.  This consists of collecting a sample during the first 30 minutes of discharge from a storm event.  The sample is to be visually inspected for color, odor, floatables, foam, oil, etc.  Documentation will need to be maintained on-site with the SWPPP.
  3. Comprehensive Site Inspections that are to be conducted annually.  Documentation of the inspections will need to be maintained in the SWPPP and recorded in an Annual Report (Ohio EPA will provide the form).

Two types of monitoring are included in the new MSGP: Benchmark Monitoring and Effluent Limitations Monitoring.  The types of monitoring and individual parameters are specified for each of the specific industry sectors within the new MSGP.  Benchmark Monitoring is required for 13 of the Industry Sectors.  The purpose for benchmark monitoring is for evaluating the overall effectiveness of control measures and to know when additional actions are necessary to comply with BMPs. Effluent Limitations Monitoring is required for five (5) industry sectors.  This monitoring is an annual event that is for the most part consistent with the prior permit, but with differences in monitoring parameters.

The new MSGP includes an exemption for monitoring multiple outfalls that are “substantially identical outfalls”.  If a facility has two or more outfalls that discharge substantially identical effluent and drainage areas, there is a provision to monitor only one of the outfalls and report that the results apply to the other substantially similar outfalls.  This exemption does not apply to outfalls covered by numeric effluent limits.

There has also been a minor change in the definition of a “measurable storm event” from the prior permit.  A measurable storm event is defined as a storm event that results in discharge from the facility and follows the preceding measurable storm event by 72 hours (3 days).  There is also a provision for monitoring snowmelt.

The new MSGP contains an exemption to the monitoring requirements for inactive and unstaffed sites.  This exemption applies to benchmark monitoring, quarterly visual inspections, and routine facility inspections.  It will be necessary to make a demonstration, and then certify there are no industrial materials exposed to storm water.  The exemption applies differently to certain industry sectors.

For more information, see the dedicated page on Ohio EPA’s website.

If you have questions on how the requirements of the new MSGP may apply to your facility(ies), or require assistance updating your facility’s SWPPP, contact Andy McCorkle at 888-598-6808 or by email at amccorkle@cecinc.com.

Reissued General Permit (PASPGP-4) Affects Linear Projects in Pennsylvania

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On July 1, 2011 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued the Pennsylvania Special Programmatic General Permit-4 (PASPGP-4) which replaces the expired PASPGP-3.  The PASPGP is a federal Clean Water Act, Section 404 permit which can be authorized by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and county conservation districts for minor activities in wetlands, streams, rivers, and other waters without additional review by the Corps.  For the most part, the PASPGP-4 is a continuation of the PASPGP-3 but there are some key changes that will impact linear projects.  Although the changes were mainly aimed at the rapidly growing natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, they will affect all linear projects ranging from sewer and water pipelines to electrical, cable, and telephone lines.  The changes affecting linear projects are summarized in this posting.

One aspect of the PASPGP-4 which was the focus of a lot of debate was the definition of Single and Complete Projects.  The definition of a single and complete linear project still refers to each crossing of a separate water body.  However, the PASPGP-4 makes a distinction between the overall project and a single and complete project.  The overall project includes all regulated activities that are reasonably related and necessary to accomplish the project purpose.  Applicants must supply the locations for the start and end points along with the proposed crossings and the total cumulative impacts needed to accomplish the overall project.  Therefore, although a linear project may contain more than one single and complete project, the total cumulative impacts needed to accomplish the overall project must be disclosed.  The cumulative impacts (meaning the sum total of all of the crossings) for the overall project will then be used to determine the category of activity.  Therefore, if the cumulative impact for the overall project is greater than 1 acre of jurisdictional waters or 250 linear feet of streams, then the overall project will be a Category III activity and will be reviewed by the Corps.  However, the cumulative impacts are only used to determine the category level of the activity.  They are not used to determine whether the project is eligible for authorization under the PASPGP-4.  The project will still be eligible under a PASPGP-4 as long as the impacts for each single crossing are less than 1 acre of jurisdictional waters or 250 linear feet of streams.  Therefore, this process has not changed.

The PASPGP-4 includes clarification on the calculation of linear footage of stream impact.  The linear footage of stream impact is now to be measured from the top of bank to the top of the opposite bank and from the upstream to downstream limits of work.  The linear footage of stream impact will be the greater of these two measurements.  Therefore, the right-of-way (ROW) will typically be used to determine the linear footage of stream impacts for pipeline projects.

Through the PASPGP-4, the Corps has established two triggers which can automatically push a project into a Category III review.  The first trigger involves threatened and endangered species.  If the PNDI for a project identifies a conflict with a federally listed species or includes avoidance measures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the project will be considered a Category III activity and must be reviewed by the Corps.  The second trigger involves interstate projects.  Projects which will be located in Pennsylvania and another state will also be considered a Category III activity and must be reviewed by the Corps.

There was one major change to the PASPGP-4 that was included in the draft version of the general permit that was not included in the final version.  The Corps was expected to lower activities authorized as Waiver 2 (25 PA Code § 105.12(a)(2) Waiver 2) from a Category III activity to a Category 1 activity.  Waiver 2 is for water obstructions in a stream or floodway with a drainage area of 100 acres or less.  This waiver applies only to the DEP and not to the Corps.  Since these activities are still Category III, they must be reviewed by the Corps to obtain federal authorization for the project.

Lastly, projects which were authorized by the PASPGP-3 have been reauthorized by the PASPGP-4 provided the permit for the project had not expired by June 30, 2011.  For most projects, the new expiration date for the reauthorized PASPGP-3 will be tied to any applicable PADEP Chapter 105 applications such as a General Permit or Joint Permit.

If you have any questions regarding the requirements of the PASPGP-4 or any other aspects of the permitting requirements for linear projects in Pennsylvania, please contact Paul Kanouff at pkanouff@cecinc.com or 800-899-3610.