PA EHB Suspends NPDES Permit Over Stormwater Concerns

February 2010Newsletters In the Zone

On October 22, 2009, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board rendered a decision impacting stormwater management planning in Exceptional Value (EV) watersheds.

In Crum Creek Neighbors v. DEP, Pulte Homes, the judge suspended an individual NPDES permit because, according to the decision, (1) the PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) incorrectly analyzed the site as a nondischarge site when in fact there will be direct discharges to an EV stream, and (2) the PADEP failed to require adequate investigation of the project's potential impact on the water flow in the EV stream.

The applicant's project, situated on top of a ridge, partially drained into an EV stream. The stormwater controls were accordingly designed and approved by the PADEP to manage the required two-year storm event and protect the receiving EV stream. However, the court found that runoff from a five-year storm would effectively create a direct discharge to the protected water.

Additionally, the court agreed with the appellant's position that the project had the potential to reduce water flow in the EV stream and required further investigation and analysis.

The PADEP is attempting to establish a process for future stormwater management plan submissions that will addresses the court's concerns. However, it would seem plausible that future projects in special protection watersheds will potentially be subjected to additional design and hydrogeological studies.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].