The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed revisions to guidelines and work practice standards applicable to stormwater discharges in the construction and development sector under the Clean Water Act. 78 Fed. Reg. 19,434 (4/1/13). According to EPA, the proposed changes would, among other matters, withdraw the numeric discharge standards for turbidity in stormwater discharges from construction and development activities and remove monitoring requirements associated with those standards.
EPA also said that the changes would clarify how certain work practice standards are applied at construction and development sites. For example, the agency has proposed changes to the provision that currently requires operators to “Minimize soil compaction and, unless infeasible, preserve topsoil,” splitting this into two provisions—one about compaction and another about topsoil preservation. It clarifies that permittees need not minimize soil compaction “where the intended function of a specific area of the site dictates that it be compacted.” Similarly, it eliminates the requirement to preserve topsoil if the intended function of the location “dictates that the topsoil be disturbed or removed.” The revisions also include a definition of “infeasible,” stating that it means “not technologically possible, or not economically practicable and achievable in light of best industry practices.” EPA will accept comments on the revisions until May 31, 2013.