4 The record articles

The New PAG-03 Has Arrived!

Posted: January 20th, 2023

Authors: Michael B. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has published the updated PAG-03 Authorization to Discharge Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity, as announced in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on December 24, 2022. To continue coverage under PAG-03, a facility much submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) and associated checklist by March 23, 2023. And for those waiting patiently to obtain new PAG-03 coverage, your wait is finally over.

In March 2022, ALL4 outlined the changes identified between the previously published PAG-03, which included the following:

  • New and Revised Benchmark Values – a reminder to check your relevant Appendix for added or updated benchmark values for specific pollutants! Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus are now required to be analyzed under the new PAG-03. Appendices B, J, O, P, Q, R, T, and U now also have additional benchmark pollutants.
  • A facility must submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) after benchmark exceedances of the same pollutant in two consecutive monitoring periods. After benchmark exceedances of the same pollutant in four consecutive monitoring periods, a facility must submit a BMP Checklist (Form 3800-PM-BCW0083L). Additional exceedances may result in termination of the General Permit and the facility would need to apply for an Individual Permit.
  • Changes were made to Monitoring and Reporting Requirements for semi-annual inspections, BMPs, and the removal of requirements for bypasses.


In addition to the above identified changes, PADEP has updated the terms and conditions for PAG-03 coverage and renewals. In their renewal letter sent to PAG-03 permittees on December 23, 2022 (if you did not receive this letter, it may be time to update your facility permit contact!), PADEP communicated that current PAG-03 coverage in in effect until the March 23rd NOI submission deadline.

PADEP noted in their letter that if a facility discharges directly to a stream that has been redesignated as High Quality (HQ) or Exceptional Value (EV) under Chapter 93 of the department’s Rules and Regulations, that facility may no longer eligible for a PAG-03 and would need to apply for an Individual NPDES Permit (3800-PM-BCW0403). Facilities discharging to upstream waters prior to the redesignation would be eligible to be grandfathered for PAG-03 renewal.

In a change from previous NOI submissions, PADEP is now requiring that all outfalls at the facility – not only those associated with industrial activity – must be listed on the NOI. For the outfalls associated with industrial activity, stormwater sampling for the renewal is only required at representative outfalls if the facility is discharging to impaired waters. In that case, the parameter for which the stream is impaired must be sampled for the NOI.  Otherwise, stormwater data from previous years may be used in the NOI form submitted on or before March 23rd.

As noted in our previous blog post, the $2,500 fee for PAG-03 coverage has not changed, but it will now be collected annually in $500 increments. Under the updated General Permit renewals, the first $500 fee and the Annual Report are both due on May 1, 2023. Beginning in 2024, the incremental fee and Annual Report will be due March 23rd of each year.

PADEP has also listed circumstances under which a facility should submit an NOI to amend its current General Permit. These include changes to existing outfalls, adding outfalls, or changes to the facility that change the flow or characteristics of stormwater, including new run-on flow from offsite.


While minor, there are three additional changes to this version of the PAG-03 which may apply to facilities requiring General Permit Coverage:

  • While often included in PPC Plans required for stormwater permitting, the NOI now directly calls for a site map showing structures, impervious surfaces, control measures, receiving waters, stormwater conveyances, monitoring points, and non-stormwater discharge sites.
  • PADEP published requirements for valve-controlled stormwater retention structures related to discharges and self-monitoring sample collection (i.e., collect within the first five minutes of discharge as opposed to the first 30 minutes for free-flowing structures.)
  • The target quantification limits (TQLs) for fulfilling sampling requirements of self-monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping are now published in the General Permit. The inability to achieve these TQLs will be treated as non-compliance by PADEP. Check with your laboratory to be sure they are able to meet the published TQLs.


While developing this blog, ALL4 also came up with a list of questions, which may apply to your facility.

1. What can/should I do if I applied for and received an Individual Industrial Stormwater Permit during the period when PADEP was not issuing general permits for new discharges?

ALL4 recommends maintaining the Individual Permit until it expires, then re-evaluating your facility’s applicability. It may be advantageous to renew your Individual Permit, though in certain circumstances it may be better to apply for a new General Permit. This is site specific and depends on the characteristics of the operation and stormwater discharge.

2. What will happen if I do not submit an NOI prior to 3/23 to maintain coverage?

Your facility’s General Permit will be expired and you will no longer be authorized to discharge stormwater from your facility. This could lead to one or more Notices of Violation, fines, and additional corrective actions.

3. What if a benchmark value is added to my Appendix?

All sectors have total nitrogen and total phosphorus added. Any pollutants listed in an Appendix as impairing waters must also be sampled prior to renewal. PADEP has clarified that no additional sampling is required and sampling data from the previous two years may be used to complete the NOI form.

ALL4 is continuing to monitor developments related to PAG-03 and we will be providing timely updates as they become available. For more information regarding this or other topics related to stormwater and wastewater, please contact Michael Burfield of ALL4 at mburfield@all4inc.com. For information on how ALL4 may assist with your facility’s PAG-03 coverage, please contact Christine Chinofsky at cchinofsky@all4inc.com.


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