U.S. EPA Releases NPDES 2020 Draft Industrial Stormwater Permit for Public Comment

Author: Lindsay Johnson

Published in March 2020 Focus on the Environment Newsletter

On March 2, 2020, U.S. EPA released for public comment the draft 2020 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity, also referred to as the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). Some of the proposed revisions streamline the ability to interpret and comply with the permit, while others will likely increase both the level of effort and costs to maintain permit compliance.  The proposed permit, once finalized, will replace the existing U.S. EPA MSGP, which is set to expire on June 4, 2020.

Although the proposed permit has near-term implications for industrial facilities where U.S. EPA is the NPDES permitting authority, many NPDES-delegated states (including Ohio) mirror the federal permit language when updating their state permit.  Therefore, you can expect significant changes to many state-authored MSGPs in the coming years. EPA’s website and the Proposed 2020 MSGP Fact Sheet list the proposed changes from the 2015 MSGP and note areas where the agency is seeking comment. Majority of the changes incorporate recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and a 2016 agreement with industry groups and environmentalists. The fact sheet is particularly useful as it provides background discussions to better understand the context of each proposed change and request for comment. Some of the noteworthy proposed changes include:

  • Requiring all facilities to conduct universal benchmark monitoring for pH, total suspended solids, and chemical oxygen demand on a quarterly basis (currently only certain industry sectors are required to perform benchmark monitoring for select constituents a total of four times during the 5-year permit term);
  • Revising or removing benchmark values for some constituents based on the latest toxicity information;
  • Addition of benchmark monitoring requirements for various industrial sectors that previously had no benchmark monitoring requirements;
  • Consideration of major storm control measure enhancements for facilities that are located within a flood-prone area, such as the FEMA 100-year flood zone; and
  • A new tiered “additional implementation measures” (AIM) that are triggered by benchmark monitoring exceedances (the proposed AIM is more prescriptive and may incur greater costs than the generalized response actions of the current permit).

Cox-Colvin routinely assists industrial facilities with management of their MSGP and associated storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP).  Contact us if you need assistance or would like to discuss possible changes that may affect your facility.

Lindsay Johnson is an Engineer with Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc. and has been an employee since September 2017. She received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University in 2016. She previously worked in Little Rock, Arkansas as a permit writer for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality where she grew a passion for the environmental field. She is thrilled to be a part of Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc. and hopes to bring a regulatory perspective to the team.