The Environmental Protection Agency issued a set of new rules this week aimed at reducing water pollution from construction sites around the country. The effluent limitations guidelines (ELG) and new source performance standards (NSPS) are intended to control the discharge of pollutants from construction sites. This is the first time the EPA has created national monitoring requirements and enforceable limitations on stormwater drainage from construction sites.
EPA estimates say that once fully implemented, the new rule will reduce sediment discharge from construction sites by approximately 4 billion pounds each year. The new rules require construction site owners and operators to implement erosion and sediment control measures aimed at preventing or controlling water pollution originating from construction sites.
As soil and sediment runoff is a top contributor to national water quality issues and a leading cause of nationwide water pollution, the new rules have the potential to significantly improve water quality. Beyond polluting the water, runoff from construction sites also adds soil and sediment to streams, lakes, and reservoirs, and over time can lead to dredging, another issue.
“The final rule is intended to work in concert with existing state and local programs, adding a technology-based ‘floor’ that establishes minimum requirements that apply nationally,” reads the EPA water guideline fact sheet.”
The rule applies to construction site owners and operators that disturb anything over 1 acre. According to the new rule, owners/ operators are required to use best management practices in an effort to keep any disturbed soil from polluting nearby water. Additionally, owners and operators of sites where the impact is on 10+ acres will be required to monitor discharges and ensure compliance with limits to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies.
The rule will come into effect in February 2010 and be phased in over 4 years.