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August 17, 2015
Winter is Coming: an industrial stormwater compliance roadmap
By Emily Remmel, JD, Legal Editor

The dog days of summer are dissipating and the seasonal transition towards fall is nearing. Like the Stark family in the Game of Thrones, one could uneasily say, “Winter is coming.”

Having a compliance roadmap will be advantageous as many industrial facilities bid adieu to summer and start preparations for more significant fall and winter precipitation events. Facilities that are not subject to the federal 2015 MSGP for industrial stormwater can still benefit from this same compliance roadmap, because many of the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) requirements and best management practices (BMPs) are similar for states.

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Determining permit applicability

The 2015 MSGP for industrial stormwater will only impact areas of the country where the EPA remains the permitting authority over states. Industrial facilities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho, and Washington, D.C., will be impacted, as well as those entities in most U.S. territories, Indian Country lands, and a few federally operated facilities in Colorado, Delaware, Vermont and Washington. Certain oil and gas activities in Oklahoma and Texas must also abide by the federal industrial stormwater permit.

Consider certifying no exposure

Certain facilities can certify a “no exposure” condition and be excluded from the industrial stormwater permit requirements. To meet the “no exposure” requirements, facilities must certify that their industrial materials andoperations are not exposed to stormwater.

This means that all industrial materials and activities at your facility are protected by a storm resistant shelter to prevent any exposure to rain, snow, snowmelt, and runoff. Industrial materials and activities include material handling equipment and materials (loading and unloading product), industrial machinery, raw materials, intermediate and final products, and by-products.

Identifying your site’s pollutants

Facilities must identify pollutants and describe areas where industrial materials or activities are exposed to stormwater. To do this, facilities should develop a list of all industrial activities in the area (e.g., material storage, equipment fueling, maintenance, and cleaning) and list all pollutants or constituents associated with each identified activity.

Also, identify locations where spills and leaks could occur or have occurred over the last 3 years, as well as the corresponding stormwater outfalls. Facilities must describe sampling data collected from the previous permit term, and identify any unauthorized nonstormwater discharges and location of salt storage piles.

Creating a SWPPP and choosing your BMPs

The SWPPP implements multi-sector general permit (MSGP) provisions by documenting your site’s selected, designed, and installed stormwater control measures. Note: the SWPPP must be prepared before submitting the NOI.

First, put together a stormwater pollution prevention team. Then, identify a “qualified person” to develop and certify your site’s SWPPP. The qualified person must be knowledgeable in the principles and practices of industrial stormwater, controls and pollution prevention, and must possess the education to assess the effectiveness of said controls.

Second, choose the appropriate BMPs or control measures. Facilities have to select, design, install, and implement BMPs or control measures for their sites to minimize pollutant discharges. The following are typical BMPs:

  • Minimize exposure of manufacturing, processing, and material storage areas;
  • Establish good housekeeping by cleaning all exposed areas;
  • Maintain all industrial equipment and control measures;
  • Develop plans for effective spill prevention and response;
  • Stabilize exposed soil and minimize erosion;
  • Divert, infiltrate, reuse, or contain stormwater runoff;
  • Enclose or cover salt storage piles;
  • Evaluate nonstormwater discharges; and
  • Reduce dust generation and vehicle tracking of raw, final, or waste materials.

Document the control measures in your SWPPP, as well as the schedule for housekeeping and routine inspections. Provide procedures for preventative maintenance, testing and repair, and spill prevention and response.

Submitting the NOI

The EPA has streamlined the submission process for all notification forms and monitoring reports. The NOI can be filled out entirely online through EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX) eReporting program, NeT-MSGP.

Training employees

Employees must be trained if they work in areas where industrial materials are exposed to stormwater or are responsible for meeting conditions of the industrial stormwater permit. All members of the stormwater pollution prevention team must be trained.

Owners and operators must document the content of employee training, the frequency of the training, and the dates on which each employee received the training.

Conducting routine inspections

Routine inspections must be conducted quarterly, or even monthly in some cases. In addition to quarterly, an inspection must occur at least once each year during a stormwater discharge. Inspections are to be conducted during normal facility hours and the following should be inspected at your site:

  • Areas with exposed industrial materials or activities,
  • Areas identified in the SWPPP,
  • Areas of potential pollutant sources,
  • Areas where spills and leaks have occurred in the past 3 years,
  • Discharge points, and
  • Implemented control measures.

Qualified personnel and at least one member of your stormwater pollution prevention team must complete and document routine inspections. Examine the above areas for industrial materials, residue, trash, leaks, or spills, as well as offsite tracking of sediment. Also, look out for control measures that need replacement or repair. All documentation should be kept on-site with the SWPPP.

Conducting quarterly visual assessments

Each quarter, a stormwater sample must be collected from each outfall along with a visual assessment. Samples must be collected within the first 30 minutes of the discharge using a clean, colorless glass or plastic container. When examining the sample in a well-lit area, look for color, odor, diminished clarity, foam, oil sheen, and floating, settled, or suspended solids. All documentation should be kept on-site with the SWPPP.

Submitting the annual report

The first annual report is due January 30, 2017. The annual report should contain a summary of the past year’s routine facility inspections, quarterly visual assessments, any average benchmark monitoring exceedance, a summary of corrective actions taken or outstanding, and any incidents of noncompliance. The annual report must include a signed certified statement and be uploaded electronically to EPA’s CDX.

In sum, industrial facilities that follow the above roadmap will have a simpler time complying with EPA’s updated 2015 MSGP. Facilities that have an organized SWPPP, trained employees, and are prepared to inspect and collect samples should not dread that winter is indeed coming.

For more information on the industrial stormwater permit, watch this comprehensive webinar.

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