The United States of Stormwater
Posted: June 14th, 2023Authors: Anna R.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) first published the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for Industrial Stormwater in 1995, with the most recent update becoming effective in September 2021. Authority has been granted by U.S. EPA to 47 of the 50 states to implement their own stormwater permitting programs, in lieu of strict adoption of the MSGP. Only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and U.S. territories are covered by the MSGP.
Because we have 48 (47 states plus the MSGP) versions of a stormwater permitting program across the country, it’s a monumental task to keep up with the nuances of each one. This can be especially onerous for corporations that operate similar facilities across multiple states. Even for two identical sites that sit across state lines, the stormwater management requirements can vary quite a bit. Below are five common differences across these permits; do you know how your state stacks up?
1. Is my permit multi-sector or multiple sectors?
No, this isn’t a trick question. Many states follow U.S. EPA’s MSGP formatting and maintain one general industrial stormwater permit. These multi-sector permits contain all the state-wide, cross-industry requirements in the main sections of the permit and list the sector-specific requirements in appendices. Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia all have permits with this layout.
Other states – including Alabama, New Jersey and North Carolina – maintain several general industrial stormwater permits. These permits will be applicable to a certain industry group, and all requirements in the permit are applicable to all sites claiming coverage under the industry-specific permit.
2. Do I have to post signage?
This may sound simplistic, but in the 2021 update of the U.S. EPA’s MSGP, a requirement was added to post notice of permit coverage at a publicly accessible location at or near your facility. Since this addition to the MSGP, states are slowly starting to incorporate the requirement into their permits, but not without some turmoil. Georgia proposed a signage requirement initially in a draft of their latest permit but removed it prior to the final issuance due to industry pushback. Texas is one of the few individual states to incorporate this requirement into their general permit so far.
3. Monitoring – wait, it’s not consistent?
Not even close! Not only do water quality standards vary from state to state, requirements for benchmark and indicator monitoring also vary greatly. Indicator monitoring, which is reported with no enforceable limits, for total suspended solids (TSS), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and pH were added for all sectors to the MSGP in 2021 – states are slowly starting to incorporate that requirement as well. Even sector-specific benchmark limits are not always consistent state to state. For example, the TSS benchmark monitoring concentration for the asphalt paving and roofing materials sector is 100 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in Georgia but is 150 mg/L just to the north in Tennessee.
4. Is there an annual reporting requirement?
Several states require permittees to submit an annual report that details exceedances, notes potential issues, and includes certification statements. States requiring these reports include, but are not limited to, California, Georgia, Minnesota, and Washington. Often, these reports will be submitted electronically via the state’s environmental reporting platform; it’s important to note that these reports are not the same as a discharge monitoring report (DMR).
5. Speaking of DMRs, am I required to submit them electronically?
More and more states are moving to using the U.S. EPA’s online DMR submittal platform, NetDMR. NetDMR is a program under the Central Data Exchange (CDX) and requires a CDX account to upload, review, and certify data. Again, this is in alignment with the 2021 MSGP. As general permits are renewed, most states are adding an electronic DMR requirement – Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas have recently implemented this newly issued permits. If a site does not already have NetDMR access from wastewater reporting, it will be a partnership between the site and the state agency to get accounts set up and the site’s requirements imported into the system.
Still not sure exactly where your site(s) stand with respect to industrial stormwater coverage? Do all these differences in a program that seems so simple at first glance have you seeing red or feeling blue? ALL4 tracks all of these requirements and is experienced in industrial stormwater permitting across the country. We are well suited to assist with stormwater program management for either a single facility or corporate-wide. If you have questions or want to discuss your site’s compliance please reach out to Anna Richardson at email@example.com or Matt Dabrowski firstname.lastname@example.org.