The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its final rule for controlling the discharge of pollutants from construction sites. The agency says the main goal of the rule is to improve the quality of water across the nation. The rule takes effect in February 2010 and will be phased in over a four-year period.
The EPA has made a fact sheet available on its website: Final Rule: Effluent Guidelines for Discharging from the Construction and Development Industry
. A link to a 251-page pre-publication version of the federal notice is also included – view here
Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby water bodies, according to the EPA.
The final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure that soil disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby water bodies.
In addition, owners and operators of sites that impact 10 or more acres of land at one time will be required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on discharges to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.
According to an EPA fact sheet, 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 across the U.S.
The rule requires all construction site owners and operators to implement a range of erosion and sediment control best management practices to reduce pollutants in stormwater discharges. Permittees are also required to implement a range of pollution prevention measures to control discharges from activities such as dewatering and concrete washout. The rule contains stringent requirements for soil stabilization as well.
The EPA maintains that soil and sediment runoff is one of the leading causes of water quality problems nationwide. The agency has found that soil runoff from construction has also reduced the depth of small streams, lakes and reservoirs, leading to the need for dredging.
For additional information, go to: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/guide/construction
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