HARRISBURG, PA, Aug. 31, 2009 -- Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today announced that the Environmental Quality Board will accept public comment on proposed changes to Pennsylvania's erosion and sediment control and stormwater management regulations, which are expected to significantly improve and protect water quality in Pennsylvania.
The proposed changes include requirements for establishing and protecting existing streamside and riverside forest buffers and increasing protection for exceptional value waterways, incorporate existing post-construction stormwater management requirements into state regulation to bring Pennsylvania into line with federal requirements, and enhance agricultural stormwater management provisions beyond plowing and tilling to include animal heavy -use areas.
The new regulations also include an updated permit fee structure and a new permit-by-rule option offers a simplified permitting process for eligible low-risk construction projects that will reduce permitting delays while improving oversight of projects by the department.
"We are shifting the focus of water quality protection from reviewing paperwork to holding permittees more accountable, conducting more on-the-ground inspections to verify that best management practices are being implemented and maintained, and increasing protections for our waterways," Hanger said. "These changes improve the permitting process both from an environmental and administrative perspective, and will provide greater protection to the environment through better coordination with and accountability from all involved in land development."
The Environmental Quality Board, which promulgates Pennsylvania's environmental regulations, will conduct three public hearings to accept public comment on the proposed amendments. Prior to the hearings, DEP will conduct public meetings to explain the proposed rulemaking and to respond to questions from participants. The 90-day public comment period runs through Nov. 30.
The public meetings and hearings will be held as follows:
• Sept. 29 at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building, 2525 Rochester Road, Butler County. The public meeting is at 4 p.m. and the public hearing is at 5 p.m.
• Oct. 1 at the Department of Environmental Protection, Southcentral Regional Office, Susquehanna Room B, 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg. The public meeting is at 4 p.m. and the public hearing is at 5 p.m.
• Oct. 5 at the Salisbury Township Municipal Building, 2900 South Pike Avenue, Allentown. The public meeting is at 4 p.m. and the public hearing is at 5 p.m.
Individuals wishing to present testimony at a hearing are requested to contact the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477, (717) 787-4526, at least one week in advance of the hearing to reserve a time to present testimony. Oral testimony is limited to 10 minutes for each witness. Witnesses are asked to submit three written copies of their oral testimony to the chairperson at the hearing. Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on behalf of the group at each hearing.
Persons in need of accommodations as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 should contact the board at (717) 787-4526 or through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD) to discuss how the board can accommodate their needs.
For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, then select "Public Participation."