NATIONAL MENU OF BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (BMPs) FOR STORMWATER CONSTRUCTION
Uncontrolled stormwater runoff from construction sites can significantly impact rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Sediment in waterbodies from construction sites can reduce the amount of sunlight reaching aquatic plants, clog fish gills, smother aquatic habitat and spawning areas, and impede navigation.
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits specify minimum elements and require regulated MS4 owners/operators to develop, implement, and enforce a program to reduce pollutants in stormwater to the small MS4 from certain construction activities.
This primarily includes developing:
- An ordinance,
- Requirements to implement erosion and sediment control best managment practices (BMPs),
- Requirements to control other waste at the construction site,
- Procedures for reviewing construction site plans,
- Procedures to receive and consider information submitted by the public, and
- Procedures for inspections and enforcement of stormwater requirements at construction sites.
In addition to the stormwater requirements that Phase II MS4s place on construction sites, construction operators may also need to apply for NPDES permit coverage, generally if their project disturbs more than 1 acre and discharges to a waterbody.
Importance of Controlling Construction Stormwater Discharges
When it rains, stormwater washes over the loose soil on a construction site, along with various materials and products stored outside. As stormwater flows over the site, it can pick up pollutants like sediment, debris, and chemicals from that loose soil and transport them to nearby storm sewer systems or directly into rivers, lakes, or coastal waters. EPA works with construction site operators to make sure they have the proper stormwater controls in place so that construction can proceed in a way that protects your community’s clean water and the surrounding environment.
What Construction Activities Are Regulated
A Clean Water Act permit is required for stormwater discharges from any construction activity disturbing:
- 1 acre or more of land, or
- Less than 1 acre of land, but that is part of a common plan of development or sale that will ultimately disturb 1 or more acres of land.
Construction activity includes earth-disturbing activities such as clearing, grading, and excavating land and other construction-related activities that could generate pollutants.
The Federal “C&D Rule” Permit Requirements
All NPDES permits for construction storm water must address the minimum federal effluent limitation guidelines for the construction and development point source category (referred to as “the C&D rule”).
The C&D rule found in 40 CFR 450.21 establishes minimum NPDES effluent limitations, such as:
- Design, install, and maintain effective erosion and sediment controls, and pollution prevention measures, to minimize the discharge of pollutants;
- Stabilize disturbed areas immediately when construction has ceased and will not resume for more than 14 days;
- Prohibit the dewatering discharges unless managed by appropriate controls;
- Prohibit the discharge of:
- Wastewater from concrete washout (unless managed by appropriate control), or washout/cleanout of stucco, paint, form release oils, other wastewater materials;
- Fuels, oils, or other pollutants used for vehicles; and
- Soaps or solvents to wash vehicles and equipment.
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