The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is currently accepting comments on a draft renewal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for storm water discharges associated with industrial activity. OEPA’s current general storm water permit for industrial activity expires on May 31, 2011. OEPA’s current and previous-generation industrial general permits have been based mostly upon the USEPA’s 1992 baseline industrial general permit. As a result, these general permits contained broad, non-industry-specific permit requirements. The current general permit consists of 36 pages; the new proposal consists of 171 pages. With this general permit renewal, OEPA decided to mirror USEPA’s current Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). OEPA provided the following reasons for voluntarily adopting the MSGP:

  • Consistency: Most states currently use the federal MSGP for their industrial storm water general permit. OEPA believes that Ohio is behind in this area.
  • More effective requirements: The federal MSGP provides more prescriptive requirements based on each industrial sector. OEPA believes that this provides facilities with an easier means of identifying Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3) requirements, reducing permittee confusion, and resulting in more effective best management practices.
  • Existing federal guidance: USEPA has developed, and included on its website, guidance and factsheets for each industrial sector. OEPA believes that this guidance will provide additional clarity to the regulations in this area.

Among other changes, the draft permit:

  • Adds effluent limits for six (6) industrial sectors: 1) timber products; 2) chemicals and allied products manufacturing; 3) asphalt paving and roofing materials and lubricant manufacturing; 4) glass, clay, cement, concrete, and gypsum products; 5) mineral mining and dressing; and 6) steam electric generating facilities.
  • Requires covered facilities to issue an annual report.
  • Adds quarterly benchmark monitoring requirements for nineteen (19) industrial sectors during the first year of the general permit, specifying pollutants each industry must monitor to determine whether those pollutants exceed benchmark values set to be consistent with Ohio’s water-quality criteria.
  • Requires continued monitoring and control-measure modifications for facilities not meeting the industry-specific pollutant level until the benchmark is met.  

For impacted industrial sectors and facilities, OEPA’s proposal will add effluent limitations and monitoring, both of which will increase costs for compliance and increase exposure to enforcement for noncompliance. Monitoring of storm water discharges may also present some challenges for certain industrial sectors because of a lack of a definitive monitoring point and process.

OEPA has scheduled a public hearing to accept comments on the draft general permit for 2:30 p.m. on December 16, 2010, at OEPA Central Office, Conference Room A, 50 West Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43216. In lieu of attending the public hearing, written comments may be submitted in person or by mail no later than December 23, 2010.