Upcoming Changes to Construction Permiting

Upcoming Changes to Construction Permiting

Starting with the EPA Clean Water Act that became law decades ago, it seems new environmental regulations are always coming down the pike. It’s a complex business, as not all of the states are consistent in their means and methods. To add another layer, the EPA is expected to update their general permit requirements again soon.

I was talking with William Thomas of Schoel Engineering recently, and we discussed a few things we are both seeing or anticipating:

  • Notice of Intents (NOIs) for permit coverage will have to be submitted electronically and payed through the website. This will help the process.
  • They are adding a requirement to provide a minimum 25-foot natural riparian buffer zone adjacent to all surface waters at the construction site. This can (or likely will) impact the site layout. Total requirements are a bit unclear at this time, but to comply, site plans will need a combination of smaller natural buffers combined with additional E&S controls.
  • A Pre-Construction Observations Inspection, conducted by a “Qualified Credentialed Professional,” must be performed over the entire proposed construction site, including all areas of land disturbance, proposed areas used for storage of materials that may be exposed to precipitation, affected ditches, and other storm water conveyances, receiving waters and stream banks to determine if there are pre-existing areas of concern. So basically, they have to inspect the whole kitchen sink.
  • The Turbidity Monitoring Requirement will be removed. In 2009, the EPA released “The Construction and Development Effluent Guidelines and Standards” which included numeric turbidity limitation and monitoring and was required on sites with 10 or more acres of land disturbance. Each month, or after a rain event, the site required a compliance inspection. About 18 months ago EPA stayed this requirement.

Some things are getting easier, while some got more complex. As with any changes, these will take an adjustment period for those in the construction, but hopefully the results will be a win for both the environment and the industry.

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