Federal Industrial MSGP Changes and Concerns

Proposed on Dec. 1, 2005, and still not finalized, the EPA Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for industrial stormwater discharges has some significant changes...

Jul 1st, 2007

by Jay Collert, CHMM, CET

Proposed on Dec. 1, 2005, and still not finalized, the EPA Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for industrial stormwater discharges has some significant changes in store for facilities that apply for coverage under that permit when it becomes effective. Even though only nine states and territories are directly affected by the permit, many states that have the authority to issue stormwater permits use the federal permit as a model for their own. Some of the major changes are described here.

Enforcement

In the past, there has been, depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting, a decided lack of enforcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency relating to stormwater violations. While there have been a few big cases, enforcement seems lacking. Still, with the new permit, the EPA seems determined to use the MSGP 2006 to facilitate more enforcement. The term “violation” occurs 44 times in the body of the draft permit. The MSGP 2006 now specifies that any deficiency in either the Storm Water Pollution Prevent Plan (SWPPP) or Best Management Practices (BMPs) is a violation of the permit. The permit language states:

“...the initial BMP or SWPPP deficiency constitutes a violation of the Permit and the Clean Water Act (unless specifically otherwise stipulated)...”

Reporting of Exceedances

While there have been requirements to report exceedances if the facility had a pollutant limitation - and very few did - the draft permit language now states:

“If at any time you or EPA determine(s) that your discharge causes or contributes to an exceedance of applicable water quality standards, you must take corrective actions and conduct follow-up monitoring. If you discover or are informed (by an entity other than EPA) of the exceedances you must take corrective action and conduct follow-up monitoring as stipulated in Parts 3.3 and 3.4; you must also report the exceedances(s) to EPA as stipulated in Part 3.4.”

This requirement is by far much greater than seen in the past two permits. And as more water quality standards are assigned through the expanded Total Maximum Daily Loading (TMDL) programs, the probability that a facility’s stormwater will be discharged to an impaired body of water increases dramatically.

Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance existed in previous permits as an important category of BMPs the facility was required to develop and implement in the SWPPP. The draft permit, though, significantly broadens the preventative maintenance requirements. The proposed permit language is:

“You must have a preventive maintenance program that includes regular inspecting, testing, maintaining and repairing of all industrial equipment and systems to avoid situations that may result in leaks, spills and other releases. These measures are in addition to specific BMP maintenance as required under Part 2.2 (Maintenance of BMPs).”

The BMPs associated with this section will look very much like control practices that are required for facilities that have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan.

There are many other changes that can have an impact on industrial facilities. To view the draft MSGP, go to www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/msgp2006_all-proposed.pdf. To view the fact sheet, go to www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/msgp2006_factsheet-proposed.pdf. To see all related information to this MSGP, go to http://cfpub2.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/msgp.cfm; and check this website often so as not to miss the announcement when this permit is finalized.

About the Author: Jay Collert is a nationally recognized environmental trainer and consultant with the Aarcher Institute of Environmental Training LLC, based in Houston, TX. Contact: 281-256-9044, jcollert@aarcherinstitute.com or www.aarcherinstitute.com

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