Page 2                                                                                           Newsletter

Newsletter                                                                                       Page 3

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Shifting Regulatory Trends


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Shifting Regulatory Trends

  1. 1. Page 2 Newsletter Shifting Regulatory Trends By Adam Frey, E.I.T. Phase II MS4 Compliance Manager The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, better known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), established many of the current water quality permits. The CWA was amended in 1987 to include storm water runoff as point source pollution and therefore subject to the permitting process. Aside from those initial years, there have never been such dramatic shifts “…numeric effluent limits in EPA storm water policies such as those seen today. were rarely ever issued or enforced. That is Traditionally, storm water permitting has centered on the design and changing.” implementation of best management practices (BMPs). From silt fences to sand bags, bar screens to seeding, the permits have required various activities to minimize erosion and enhance storm water quality. Until recently, numeric effluent limits were rarely ever issued or enforced. That is changing. As mentioned in previous newsletters, the EPA has published effluent limitations for turbidity on construction sites. It is no longer acceptable to simply follow the traditional BMP schedule. Once finally adopted, developers and contractors will be required to monitor effluent turbidity and take aggressive measures to reduce it. On June 2nd, the TCEQ adopted eight total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in Greens Bayou. The TMDLs placed effluent limits for indicator bacteria from water treatment facilities that discharge into the Bayou. Additionally, the TMDLs also set bacterial effluent limits for storm water runoff. This means that the regulated entities which convey storm water TMDLs are like budgets for to Greens Bayou will need to comply with this new limit. It is unclear how pollution. The TCEQ sets a goal the regulated entities will be required to meet the TMDL, but it can be and then allocates a certain reasonably assumed current practices will be unacceptable. TMDLs for four percentage of the pollution loading other streams in the Houston area are currently in the public comment to all of the constituents. stage and are poised for quick adoption. The adoption of the turbidity rule and the bacterial TMDLs are not unrelated. The EPA, under constant threat of lawsuits from environmentalist groups, has begun adding definitive, measurable criteria on the storm water permits. This means increased testing, increased reporting, and, more than likely, increased enforcement. “…rule-makers have We've also made you aware of the Information Collection Request (ICR) for hinted at requiring new proposed rulemaking currently in its final phase of public comments. From development to retain all the EPA's site, "These surveys are designed to inform a rulemaking to storm water up to a 2- strengthen [storm water] regulations and to establish a program to reduce year, 24-hour event.” [storm water] from newly developed and redeveloped sites." This ICR is in response to the 2008 National Research Council report titled "Urban Stormwater Management in the United States,” which recommends, Please see Shifting Regulatory Trends on page 3
  2. 2. Newsletter Page 3 among other things, that the permitting program should focus on the impact of increased water volume rather than chemical pollutants. If adopted, the old adage "the solution to pollution is dilution" will no longer be valid. Rule-makers have hinted at requiring new development to retain all storm water up to a 2-year, 24-hour event. In Houston, that is approximately 5.5 inches within 24-hours. These are transformative times indeed. As always, Storm Water Solutions is on top of each and every one of these issues. We have If unable to meet effluent limits, it helped our clients transition with these changing rules in the most may be necessary to treat storm economically feasible ways. We are continually called in to speak to water runoff. municipalities, engineers, and attorneys to inform and comment on the regulatory landscape. If you have any questions or issues regarding anything environmental, we are always here to help. You can contact Adam at Storm Water Solutions 12200-A Duncan Rd. Houston, TX 77066 Phone: (281) 587-5950 Fax: (281) 587-5999 E-mail: