On Feb. 17, the newly revised 2022 construction general permit (CGP) for stormwater discharges from construction activities took effect. The CGP applies to operators of construction sites in a few areas where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permitting authority. More importantly, NPDES authorized states that oversee their own stormwater permitting programs use it as a model for their permits. AGC supports the use of general permits as an effective tool to streamline the permit process and reduce administrative burdens for those projects with minimal impact. (Individual permits are available for larger-scale impacts.) AGC engaged in significant outreach with the agency to discuss ways to improve the permit. And although the permit has new requirements that can add cost for permittees, such as turbidity “benchmark” monitoring for dewatering discharges to sensitive waters, the agency sought to provide clarity on several points where AGC members have demonstrated to them confusion with the previous permit.
The new CGP addresses several points where AGC requested greater clarity to help permittees better understand the requirements. For example, EPA clarified the difference between routine maintenance (minor repairs and upkeep) and corrective actions (significant repair and/or replacement). The agency has also provided greater specificity on when inspections are required following rain events. The agency also made the following changes that AGC supported. (See this AGC news article to read AGC’s comment letter.)
- Added flexibility for pollution control of some types of construction waste/ materials.
- Clarification in the permit that permittees may keep stormwater documentation in electronic form.
- Clarification of seasonally dry periods in arid/semi-arid areas
The CGP has new requirements for additional perimeter controls, additional chemical controls, photo documentation, detailed dewatering requirements including turbidity benchmark monitoring for dewatering discharges to sensitive waters, making observations offsite for sedimentation, and inspection training. You can read a clean and red-lined version of the permit (that clearly shows the changes) from EPA’s resources webpage for the 2022 CGP. EPA has also prepared a guide, called Monitoring and Inspection Guide for Construction Dewatering, to provide guidance on the new requirements (available online - scroll down to the section on “How Do I Conduct Turbidity Benchmark Monitoring at My Site?”).
Lastly, EPA requested feedback on several provisions that it has, at this time, chose not to change. It did not clarify the definition of operator (i.e., determines who is required to obtain the permit). The agency also did not extend the waiting period for the permit from 14 to 30 days as they had considered in the proposal---a provision which AGC did not support. They also did not change the site stabilization from the existing five-acre disturbance threshold; although this issue appears unresolved and may be revisited in future versions.
For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at email@example.com.