Stormwater Permitting & Oil and Gas Operations Guy Alsentzer Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® Dedicated to improving the ecological health of the Lower Susquehanna Watershed and the Chesapeake Bay
STORMWATER 101STORMWATER:• Water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground. Flows into the nearest stream, creek, river, lake or ocean, and is not treated in any way. On its way, picks up and carries many substances that pollute water.REGULATED CATEGORIES: Municipal Industrial Construction•
OIL/GAS OPERATIONS & STORMWATER• Pollutants sediment, debris, and chemicals.• Runoff = harm or kill fish and other wildlife.• Sedimentation can destroy aquatic habitat. High volumes = stream bank erosion.• Construction req’d to prepare siteTOPOGRAPHY: Steep slopes 1st Order Streams Remote/Intact Ecosystems
STORMWATER LAW & REGULATIONSCWA: Phase I vs Phase II1990 > 5 acres: Operator of an existing or new discharge composed entirely of stormwater is not required to submit a permit application unless the facility … [c]ontributes to a violation of a water quality standard 40 C.F.R. §122.26(c)(1)(iii) O&G operations likely to discharge stormwater runoff that is contaminated, and such contamination can include disturbed soils, and has the potential for serious water quality impacts 55 Fed. Reg. 47,990, 48029 (Nov. 16, 1990)1999 < 5 acres: expansion of NPDES stormwater program to address discharges from small construction sites “[WQ] impacts from small … sites is as high or higher than the impact from larger sites on a per acre basis.” 64 Fed. Reg. 68,722, 68,730 (Dec. 1999) CWA §402(l)(2)Exempts certain stormwater sources from NPDES permitting: runoff from oil & gas operations composed entirely of flows which are not contaminated or come into contact with pollutants §323 Energy Policy Act (amending §503 CWA) Expands CWA definition of O&G operations to specifically include related construction activities NRDC v EPA (2008) Whether 2006 Final Rule exempting from permitting requirements of CWA discharges of sediment that contribute to violations of water quality standards is permissible
PA OUTLOOK• County Conservation Districts stripped of E&S and stormwater duties. Expedited stormwater permitting process.• E&S controls vs Stormwater Mgmt• O&G activities disturbing > 5 acres must obtain NPDES stormwater permit ( 25 PA. Code §102.5(a))• Erosion & Sediment Control Plan, not permit, req’d for activities < 5 acres, but not req’d to submit prior construction • EPA NRDC = 402(l)(2) limitation NA where stormwater contaminated by contact with sediment. *Exactly what occurs @ construction activities associated with O&G. • NPDES permits for sediment contamination controls re: stormwater applicable to both Phase I & II facilities, and should be req’d for all operations 1 acre and greater.• Presently PA regulates E&S and stormwater discharges from O&G sites < 5 acres using ESCGP-1.• CWA, Clean Streams Law, Ch. 102, 92, and 93, require more than Erosion, Sediment and Stormwater Controls to regulate E&S and stormwater for well drilling permits.
PA con’t2007 EPA Report “Impacts of O&G Exploration on WQ and How to Minimize…”• Gas well sites have potential to negatively impact surface waters due to increased sedimentation rates and an increase in the presence of stormwater runoff.• Pad sites have potential to produce other contaminants.• Proximity to surface water important consideration for minimizing impacts (i.e. heavily vegetated, distant vs. areas close to waters with highly erodible soils, steep slope, little vegetation)ESCGP-1 (Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit for Oil and Gas facilities) Activities > 5 acres• Essentially a waiver from providing stormwater mgmt calculations and data • §D(2)(e) “Site Restoration Plan and Post Construction Stormwater BMPs” • Answer you will revegetate/stablize & use BMPs = no need to provide supporting calculations/data. • Waiver not available for other industrial or commercial projects • §E “Special Protection Waters” -14 cost-effective BMPs to meet Ch. 93 reqs • None sufficient to provide stormwater mgmt and water quality protection for sites with > 5 acres. • Some BMPs (stabilizing roads with gravel) can create, not mitigate, pollution & runoff.• Only GP option for O&G facilities, regardless of whether located in Special Protection Waters.Further exemption to O&G under PA Code Ch.102.14• Req’s 150’ buffer in special Protection Waters, but exemption for O&G activities “so long as any existing riparian buffer is undisturbed to the greatest extent possible.”• O&G activities <5 acres, essentially no regulatory processes or safeguards to ensure stormwate mgmt measures adequate, no consideration of factors such as: slope, soil types, amount of vegetation, protection of existing vegetation.
QUESTIONS? GUY ALSENTZER 717.718.5431 (office)Guy@LowSusRiverkeeper.org