EPA Strikes Onerous Numeric Limit From Stormwater Regulations

December 2010Newsletters In the Zone

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the EPA has acted to strike an onerous requirement from new national stormwater management regulations. On November 3, the agency issued a direct final rule to remove the numeric limitation of 280 NTUs (numeric turbidity units) from its new construction and development Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs).

The move is an acknowledgement that, in setting the limit for the NTUs, which are a measure of water cloudiness, the agency failed to take into account the natural turbidity of streams and lakes throughout the country. In some cases, these have higher levels of NTUs than water discharged from construction sites.

As a result of the EPA’s latest action, states in the process of adding the 280-NTU limit to their stormwater permits will have to issue those permits without the numeric limit.

Going forward, the EPA does plan to submit for public comment a proposed rulemaking to correct the numeric limitation within the next month. Meanwhile, it is important to understand that other provisions of the ELG rule remain valid and will require builders and developers to follow best management practices relating to erosion and sediment control, soil stabilization, dewatering, pollution prevention and prohibited discharges. These requirements in many cases are more stringent than before.

For more information, please contact Clair E. Wischusen at 215.918.3559 or [email protected].