As part of the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, the EPA’s 2012 Construction General Permit (CGP) — which authorizes stormwater discharges from construction activities — will expire on Feb. 16, 2017. Taking its place on that same day is the 2017 CGP, which will require compliance with effluent limits and other permit conditions, including the development of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).

During this transition, web content for both permits will remain online until the 2012 CGP expires. Construction projects that will begin before Feb. 16 and are operating under 2012 CGP coverage are required to submit a new Notice of Intent (NOI) for coverage under the new CGP before May 17, 2017. Submittal of a Notice of Termination (NOT) under the 2012 CGP is not required when applying for 2017 coverage in this instance.

Projects with construction starting on or after Feb. 16 are required to submit an NOI for 2017 CGP coverage at least 14 days before construction begins.

Project managers interested in applying for coverage under the new permit must submit a NOI using the new NPDES eReporting Tool for CGP (NeT-CGP), to verify that your project meets all of the permit’s eligibility conditions and requirements. This new tool will allow operators to digitally prepare and submit forms including NOI, change to an NOI, NOT and Low Erosivity Waiver (LEW).

Along with several new and modified requirements, the 2017 CGP features some significant changes, including:

  1. Modifications to the technology-based effluent limits will now contain amendments to the 2014 construction and development rule, including clarification of the applicable requirements for erosion caused by on-site stormwater, additional details for where buffers are required, and clarification for soil stabilization, preservation of topsoil and pollution prevention requirements.
  2. Permittees are required to cover or use alternate methods of temporary stabilization for all inactive soil stockpiles that will be unused for 14 or more days. This helps minimize pollutant discharge from inactive stockpiles.
  3. Site stabilization deadlines are now based on phased construction disturbances. Sites at which more than 5 acres will be disturbed at once must now follow a tighter seven-day stabilization timeline, compared to the previous 14-day schedule. In the 2012 CGP, only sensitive sites were required to adhere to the seven-day timeline.
  4. Three questions have been added to the 2017 CGP NOI, requiring permittees to:
    • Specify the type of construction site.
    • Implement controls when demolishing structures with at least 10,000 square feet of floor space built or renovated before 1980 in order to reduce the exposure of materials containing PCB to stormwater.
    • Indicate whether the predevelopment land was originally used for agriculture.

The 2017 CGP will be administered in the states under EPA jurisdiction including: Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington D.C., as well as most tribal Lands. The modifications introduced in the CGP will be incorporated into the state-level permits at the time of their respective General Permit renewals. States in which the existing state-level General Permit is due to expire and be renewed in 2017 include: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

As these permit changes take effect, construction operators are faced with significant increases to the amount of time, effort and resources required to properly comply with stormwater management responsibilities. At Burns & McDonnell, our team of experienced permitting specialists are well-versed in the permitting process and can help you navigate this transition period.

If you have any questions or need clarification on the 2017 CGP or related topics, please comment below.

Lauren Gates is an assistant environmental scientist who specializes in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, focusing on the development of SWPPPs, construction and local permits, and environmental compliance during construction.