EPA extends public comment period in forest road stormwater discharge discussion

EPA is seeking additional information on the effectiveness of existing regulatory and non-regulatory programs to address water quality impacts associated with stormwater discharges from forest roads.

On November 10, 2016, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment and additional information on the effectiveness of programs addressing water quality impacts associated with stormwater discharges from forest roads.

EPA has extended the public comment period from January 11, 2016 to February 12, 2016 for its notice seeking additional information on the effectiveness of existing regulatory and non-regulatory programs to address water quality impacts associated with stormwater discharges from forest roads.

EPA is under a court order to respond to the remand in Environmental Defense Center, Inc. v. EPA(EDC v. EPA, 2003) by May 26, 2016. The remand requires EPA to address whether section 402(p)(6) of the Clean Water Act requires regulation of stormwater discharges from forest roads.

Federal Register notice:
EPA’s research indicates that improperly designed, constructed, maintained, or decommissioned forest roads can lead to water quality degradation. Impacts can include increased sediment load and changes in stream network hydrology, which subsequently cause physical, biological, and ecological impacts to water quality.

EPA solicits public input and information on existing public and private sector programs that address stormwater discharges from forest roads. Material received in response to this notice will inform EPA’s decision-making as to whether any additional regulation is needed. EPA will consider the implementation, effectiveness, and scope of existing programs in addressing water quality impacts attributable to stormwater discharges from forest roads in making its decision. The Agency is coordinating with other federal agencies and plans to assess a variety of existing programs, including federal, state, local, tribal, third party certifications, and combinations of these approaches, as well as voluntary best management practices (BMP)-based approaches. EPA will assess whether any additional stormwater controls are called for, consistent with federal law, including limitations on requiring NPDES permits in the recent 2014 amendments to the Clean Water Act.

After considering comments and information received, EPA will publish an additional notice on or before May 26, 2016, with its determination as to whether stormwater discharges from forest roads are required to be regulated under Clean Water Act section 402(p)(6).

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