On December 7, 2012, EPA published a final rule clarifying that stormwater permitting is not required for logging roads. The Agency had proposed the rule in September in response to a 2011 citizen suit brought before the Ninth Circuit Court . The suit alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) against a logging company for discharging stormwater from ditches alongside two logging road in state forests without a permit. The court decided that because the stormwater runoff from the two roads in question is collected by and then discharged from a system of ditches, culverts, and channels, it was a point source discharge of industrial stormwater for which a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit would be required.

According to EPA, the agency never intended for logging roads to be regulated as industrial facilities. Therefore, the Agency revised 40 CFR 122.26(b)(14) to clarify its intent. The final rule will be effective on January 7, 2013.

EPA believes stormwater discharges from forest roads, including logging roads, should be evaluated under section 402(p)(6) of the CWA because the section allows for a broad range of flexible approaches that are better suited to address the complexity of forest road ownership, management, and use.

The final rule adds language to existing Phase I stormwater regulations to clarify that, for the purposes of assessing whether stormwater discharges are “associated with industrial activity,” the only facilities that would qualify as “industrial” would be rock crushing, gravel washing, log sorting, and log storage.

Caltha LLP provides technical support services to industrial facililities nationwide to complete individual and general permit application materials and to develop storm water permit compliance plans and stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPP). For more information, go to:

Caltha Stormwater Permitting and Compliance Page

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