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Related Practices
Related Practices

EPA Issues NPDES Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges and NPDES General Permit for Dewatering Activities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., October 9, 2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has recently issued two important permits under its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) program.  First, EPA issued a new Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit (“MSGP”) for stormwater discharges associated with industrial uses that became effective September 29, 2008 in certain portions of EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10.  Second, EPA provided notice of availability of a final NPDES General Permit for dewatering activities that is effective in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

1.    Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit

The MSGP regulates the discharge of stormwater from an estimated 4,100 industrial facilities in 29 different industrial sectors.  The MSGP is a broadly applicable permit that provides coverage for industrial facilities located in five states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Alaska, and Idaho), and in certain Indian Country lands, as well as at various federal facilities located in EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10.  In the other states located in the EPA regions where the permit is effective, the NPDES permitting program is administered directly by the individual states, and the state rules and permitting programs therefore apply in lieu of the EPA program.   

The 2008 version of the MSGP specifies what facility operators must do in order to become eligible for permit coverage, and to comply with the permit, including submitting a Notice of Intent (“NOI”), installing stormwater control measures to meet numeric and non-numeric effluent limits, and developing and implementing a site-specific stormwater pollution prevention plan (“SWPPP”). The MSGP also includes effluent limits, monitoring, inspection, and reporting requirements, and corrective action requirements.

The new permit replaces the 2000 version of the MSGP that expired on October 30, 2005.  Prior MSGPs issued under the 2000 program had been administratively continued pending release of the new permit.  The new MSGP contains several changes, including a reorganization of the permit to clarify (1) stormwater controls necessary to meet technology-based and water quality-based effluent limits, (2) inspection and effluent monitoring requirements, and (3) the development of site-specific SWPPPs.  The new permit requires annual reporting to EPA of inspection findings and the results of corrective actions, and incorporates electronic filing and other technologies into the NOI system.

The administrative continuance of the 2000 version of the MSGP will continue until discharges are authorized under the new permit.  All existing dischargers are required to submit an NOI to EPA by January 5, 2009 in order to be covered under the new MSGP.  New dischargers or sources that started discharging between October 30, 2005, and January 5, 2009, are required to submit an NOI as soon as possible but no later than January 5, 2009.  New dischargers or sources that start discharging after January 5, 2009 are required to submit an NOI a minimum of 60 days prior to commencing discharge, or a minimum of 30 days prior to commencement if the SWPPP is posted on the Internet.

The MSGP and additional information are available here.

2.    Dewatering General Permit for Massachusetts and New Hampshire

On October 7, 2008, Region 1 of EPA provided notice of availability of the final NPDES Dewatering General Permit for dewatering activities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire (the “General Permit”).  This General Permit replaces the Construction Dewatering General Permit that expired on September 23, 2007. 

The General Permit establishes Notice of Intent (“NOI”) requirements, effluent limitations, standards, prohibitions, and management practices for facilities with construction dewatering of groundwater intrusion and/or stormwater accumulation from sites less than one acre, and short-term and long-term dewatering of foundation sumps.  The General Permit only applies to “uncontaminated” discharges.  For the purposes of the General Permit, uncontaminated discharges are those containing only the pollutants regulated by the permit, which include total suspended solids, oil and grease, pH, and total residual chlorine.

Unlike the draft permit published by EPA on July 21, 2008, the final General Permit does not apply to discharges originating from the flushing of potable water lines and pump testing of water wells.  Facilities with such discharges may apply for coverage under an individual permit.

Individual permits also are required for those owners and operators who fall into numerous exclusions from the General Permit, which include discharges to Outstanding Water Resources in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in Massachusetts; discharges of stormwater associated with construction sites disturbing more than one acre of land; and discharges of water supply or other well development or rehabilitation wastewater. 

Owners and operators of facilities with dewatering discharges, including those currently authorized under the expired general permit, are required to submit an NOI to EPA Region 1 and the appropriate state agency, either the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection or the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

The General Permit and additional information are available here.

For more information on either of these NPDES permits, please contact Steve Richmond at srichmond@bdlaw.com or Krista Hawley at klhawley@bdlaw.com.