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EPA Expands Controls on Storm Water Runoff

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From: PNEAC Webmaster (
Date: Tue Nov 09 1999 - 16:24:55 CST

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new storm water
runoff rule designed to reduce storm water runoff from construction sites
between one and five acres and municipal storm sewer systems in urbanized
areas serving populations of less than 100,000. This new storm water rule
builds on the existing program to control storm water runoff from
municipalities with populations greater than 100,000 and 11 industrial
categories, including construction disturbing over five acres.

Storm water is water from rain or snow that runs off of city streets,
parking lots, construction sites and residential yards. It can carry
sediment, oil, grease, toxics, pesticides, pathogens and other pollutants
into nearby storm drains. Once this polluted runoff enters the sewer
system, it is discharged -- usually untreated --into local streams and

A leading public health and environmental threat, storm water runoff can
contaminate drinking and recreational waters. It also remains a major
source of beach and shellfish bed closures. Storm water runoff washes
sediment from construction sites at a rate of 20 to 150 tons per acre each
year. Sediment has been identified as the single largest cause of impaired
water quality in rivers and the third largest cause of impaired water
quality in lakes.

The new storm water Phase II rule is expected to make approximately 3,000
more river miles safe for boating and protect up to 500,000 people a year
from illness due to swimming in contaminated waters. It will prevent beach
closures, make fish and seafood safer to eat, and reduce costs of drinking
water treatment. Under the expanded program, sediment discharges from
approximately 97.5 percent of the acreage under development across the
country will be controlled through permits.

These new storm water regulations will control the impacts of storm water
runoff through the issuance of discharge permits under the Clean Water Act.
Permits are expected to be issued for at least 110,000 additional
construction sites and over 5,000 municipalities across the country.
Facilities and sites will have three years and 90 days to obtain these
storm water permits.

The Phase II permitting program has been structured for maximum
flexibility. Focusing on "best management practices," each permittee will
be able to select those options resulting in the most common sense,
cost-effective plan for reducing storm water runoff on a case-by-case basis.

The new rule also provides incentives for industrial facilities to protect
their operations from storm water exposure. At least 70,000 industrial
facilities will be able to take advantage of this new permitting exemption
by protecting their operations from storm water, such as covering
operations under a storm resistant shelter.

The proposed storm water Phase II rule was issued in January 1998. Both the
proposed and final rules were developed with extensive public outreach and
communication, including consultation with a wide cross-section of
interested stakeholders. There was a 90-day public comment period on the
proposed rule, during which EPA received approximately 500 comments.

The final storm water Phase II rule will be published in the Federal
Register within the next two weeks. A copy of the rule and additional
information is available on the Internet at http:/

Gary Jones

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