According to Sean Bothwell, the executive director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, “There are … thousands of facilities that have failed to enroll in the industrial stormwater permit, creating an economic disadvantage for those facilities that are doing their job to be compliant with their permit. SB-205 will level the playing field for the regulated community and help California achieve their mission of attaining swimmable, fishable, and drinkable California waters.”
California’s Stormwater Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTs) currently shows approximately 13,000+ active industrial stormwater sites/dischargers (Notice of Intent and No Exposure Sites). For these current General Stormwater Permit (IGP) enrollee’s vs. non-filers, the playing field has not been level across industrial sectors. There is a cost, sometimes substantial, for being in, and maintaining compliance under the IGP. The Permit is fee-based; water quality regulatory programs and the programs and resources supporting those programs are funded directly with the fees collected by these regulated entities under those programs.
The additional late-permittees and associated fees will help with the challenge of staffing at the State and Regional Boards, for processing and enforcement. As of today, there is not a direct additional fee/fine for the potential late filers; the message being that potential dischargers (or SIC code-based Facilities with a condition of No Exposure) not covered under the IGP should enroll as soon as possible, to avoid potential initial fines and future costly penalties.
Future penalties could also include “de facto” regulatory compliance penalties through non-government organizations (NGOs) and environmental group citizen lawsuits and 60-day notice-of-intents under Section 505 of the Clean Water Act. SCS Engineers advises businesses to check the Regional Board to see if they need coverage.
If unsure or unfamiliar with stormwater compliance, seek help from a Qualified Industrial Stormwater Practioner (QISP) or begin by using the resources linked to helpful sites from our blog. Although not a comprehensive list, these types of facilities do need stormwater compliance, as follows:
About the Author: Jonathan Meronek is a State of California Industrial General Permit (IGP) Qualified Industrial Storm Water Practitioner (QISP), QISP Trainer-of-Record (QISP-ToR) and an Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV-SP). With an eye to clients’ operational needs combined with long-term sustainable solutions, Jonathan has performed Site BMP and Pollutant Source Assessments, written Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs), and implemented Monitoring Implementation Plans (MIPs); for over one-hundred facilities throughout California.
He continues to provide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater services for state, municipal, and private clients across a vast cross-section of industrial sectors. Jonathan works with LRPs, facility managers, and attorneys to re-evaluate facilities comprehensively for NPDES compliance using technology-based BPT/BCT/BAT/NSPS levels of control to reduce and eliminate pollutants of concern in stormwater discharge.
We will continue to see changes on the federal, state and local regulatory front that together will help us manage storm water in a smart, cost-effective manner preserving our water resources. Betsy Powers of SCS Engineers provides an update in her most recent article.
Until a new WOTUS definition is finalized, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army have indicated their intent to re-codify the pre-Obama regulations. The revised WOTUS rule is expected to include looser regulatory requirements, meaning fewer waters will qualify, and therefore, fewer permits will be required.
To speed up approvals of permits for highways, bridges, pipelines and other major infrastructure, an Obama-era executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of climate change were rolled back reducing the environmental reviews and restrictions on government-funded building projects in flood-prone areas.
Removing phosphorus from storm water runoff is a hot topic, with partners exploring alternative opportunities to reduce the introduction of phosphorus in runoff, remove it or manage it in watersheds.
More proprietary filters are being used for pretreatment before underground infiltration for redevelopment sites for total suspended solids (TSS) control and where land is limited. The performance of proprietary devices continues to be studied and improved to meet regulatory requirements. Increasing general attention is being paid to emerging contaminants that are problematic in storm water runoff. Among the emerging contaminants of concern are pharmaceutical and personal care products, pesticides, hydrocarbons, and hormones. Many of which are now included within the Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals group.
Betsy Powers is a civil and environmental engineer with SCS Engineers.