Stormwater Management Requirements

New EPA Rules Will Require Contractors to Spend Another Billion Dollars Each Year Just to Protect the Earth from Dirt

Costs Conceded to be Double Benefits

Background:

  • Early in 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a series of new measures intended to protect the environment from the release of muddy water from construction jobsites. Embedded in this rigid “one-size-fits-all” proposal are a series of costly controls that contractors will need to implement simply to reduce the dirt – regular, clean dirt – in the rain water and any melting snow that runs across their jobsites. Climate, soil, topography and a host of other variables are all irrelevant. These new requirements will affect all construction firms everywhere because state stormwater programs also have to meet with EPA’s approval.
  • EPA included these costly new controls in its proposal to revise the construction general permit – even as it admits it has no idea whether the technology it is forcing onto contractors will actually filter enough dirt out of the water. Even if a contractor implements all of the new controls, but for some reason, the water is still too muddy, the contractor can be fined $37,500 per “violation.” In addition, the contractor can be forced to add and then filter chemicals out of every drop of water that threatens to leave the site. Compounding the confusion and potential cost of compliance, the agency has yet to set its standard for how much dirt it thinks should be in that water runoff.
  • If the contractor finds that the water running across its jobsite does not meet whatever standard EPA ultimately sets, the contractor will also have to post that fact on the Internet, for the entire world to see, within 24 hours. With this information in hand, and/or the results of any tests they may run on their own, any “interested citizen” can then file a lawsuit, perhaps hoping to bring the construction project to a halt.

AGC Message:

The Associated General Contractors of America has shared the following concerns with the EPA:

  • EPA is far from ready to impose a nationwide numeric limit on the amount of dirt allowed in stormwater runoff from construction jobsites.
  • There is no need for EPA to ratchet up its stormwater controls, at least until it figures just how clean the water really needs to be.
  • EPA’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to stormwater goes well beyond anything required by law, and in some instances, it may well be impossible to meet.
  • EPA admits that the one billion dollar cost of implementing its new controls each and every year will be twice any benefits the public can expect.
  • EPA’s proposal deprives the states of the opportunity to tailor the required controls to the nature or scope of the problems that their particular waters are having.
  • Requiring contractors to immediately report their test results would do more to confuse the public and fuel citizen suits than it would to protect the environment.
  • The proposed regulations are not consistent with President Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal agencies to eliminate needless and costly regulatory burdens on employers.