EPA Again Delays Rules For Stormwater Turbidity On Construction Sites

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Aug. 12 announced plans to withdraw the numeric limit portion of its stormwater management regulations for construction sites, the Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG). The rule originally was slated to take effect in January 2011, but enforcement was suspended due to challenges filed by industry groups and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Among other provisions, the original regulations imposed a limit of 280 turbidity units on stormwater discharges from construction sites disturbing 10 or more acres of land. EPA halted enforcement on that portion of the rule in January while it reassessed the numeric limit and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviewed the new requirements. OMB was still reviewing the proposed rule when the EPA announced it would “seek additional treatment performance data from construction and development sites before proposing a revised numeric turbidity limit.”

As mentioned in comments filed by ABC before the final rule was published, and according to the EPA’s own analysis, some small businesses would have to close as a result of the added cost of this rule. Industry groups contended the limit was “arbitrary” and would control only a small percentage of total sediment runoff at a cost of up to $10 billion annually.

In the coming months, the EPA is expected to provide further clarity on its plans regarding the ELG and solicit additional data on potential numeric limits.  In the meantime, it is unclear whether other provisions of the guidelines remain in effect.

For more information on the proposed rule, visit www.epa.gov.