On September 27, 2013, EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 has proposed a reissuance of EPA’s NPDES Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). This general permit, MSGP 2013, when finalized, will replace the 2008 MSGP, which was issued on September 29, 2008 and expires on September 29, 2013. EPA is accepting comments on the proposed MSGP 2013; the comment period is open for 60 days from publication of the Notice in the Federal Register.
The proposed permit includes a number of new or modified requirements, and differs from the 2008 MSGP. Some of the key changes to the MSGP are:
EPA has added specific eligibility requirements to Part 1.1 that describe all the conditions that must be met to be eligible under this permit. Operators must have verified that their facility and stormwater discharges from it, are eligible for coverage.
Previous versions of the MSGP required those facilities constructed after the promulgation of their industry’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to determine and document in their SWPPP either “No Significant Impact” under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), or to complete an Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with an environmental review conducted by EPA. For the proposed 2013 MSGP, EPA plans to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the permit. Therefore, under the proposed 2013 MSGP, industrial discharges subject to NSPS do not have to independently make such a determination.
Information Required for NOIs
This permit revises the information required in NOIs to provide EPA with information to determine eligibility, to determine whether additional water quality-based requirements are necessary, and to enable EPA to determine specific monitoring requirements.
Electronic Reporting Requirements
Electronic reporting is being required in the proposed permit in anticipation of EPA’s new electronic reporting requirements.
Endangered Species Requirements
EPA has proposed changes to the procedures operators are required follow to establish their eligibility with regard to protection of threatened and endangered species and critical habitat. These changes are considered necessary by EPA to ensure that the endangered and threatened species eligibility criteria are adequately protective of species, and to ensure the operators are making accurate determinations of which eligibility criterion they qualify under.
Effluent Limit Clarifications
Several of the effluent limits in Part 2 of the proposed MSGP include a greater level of specificity to make the requirements more clearly articulated, transparent, and enforceable. The effluent for which EPA has made clarifications include requirements for minimizing exposure, good housekeeping, maintenance, spill prevention and response procedures, and employee training.
The Comprehensive Site Inspection Procedures and Routine Facility Inspection procedures in the 2008 MSGP were essentially the same but with different documentation requirements. Therefore for this proposed permit, these two inspection requirements have been consolidated into one to eliminate redundancies.
Although the 2008 MSGP required corrective actions, EPA has clarified which conditions require a SWPPP review, modified the deadlines to further define expectations for what actions must be taken by the deadlines, and rewritten and clarified the reporting requirements for reporting following corrective actions.
To reduce permittee burden, EPA identified the effluent limit requirements that are the most straightforward, i.e., the ones that do not involve the site-specific selection of a control measure or are specific activity requirements (e.g., “Drain fluids from equipment and vehicles that will be decommissioned”). Permittees can then comply with the documentation requirements regarding these particular effluent limits by including the effluent limits verbatim into their SWPPP without providing additional information, thereby reducing the burden associated with SWPPP development .
To provide greater access to the SWPPP, the proposed MSGP requires that permittees either provide a URL for the SWPPP on the NOI form, or provide selected information from the SWPPP on the NOI form.
For the proposed permit, EPA has included additional non-hardness dependent metals benchmarks for facilities that discharge into saline waters. Benchmark values in the 2008 MSGP for these metals were based on acute or chronic aquatic life freshwater criteria. These additional saline benchmark values are based on available acute ambient water quality criteria for arsenic, cadmium, copper, cyanide, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc.
Industry Sector-specific Requirements
The following changes were made to requirements specific to particular industry sectors:
Sector G, Metal Mining – The permit still enables operators to include coverage for construction and exploration activities under this permit where in the past those activities were required to be covered separately under the Construction General Permit (CGP). To facilitate such coverage, additional requirements have been added that are consistent with EPA’s recently issued Construction General Permit.
Sector H, Coal Mining – As with Sector G above additional requirements have been added that are consistent with EPA’s recently issued Construction General Permit.
Sector J, Mineral Mining and Dressing – As with Sectors G and H above, additional requirements have been added that are consistent with EPA’s recently issued Construction General Permit.
Sector S, Air Transportation – Requirements have been added based on the final Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) for airplane and airport deicing operations