Monday, July 1, 2013 At 3:56PM
Last week the MPCA Citizens’ Board voted to approve the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order approving the reissuance of the Minnesota Stormwater General Permit for the discharge of stormwater associated with construction activity. This is the third iteration of the permit, which substantially changed our industry back in 2003 by requiring all sites over an acre, and those under an acre but part of a larger development, to comply with the stormwater permit requirements.
Given the importance of this issue for BATC’s membership, the Public Policy Committee sought assistance for technical review and development of public comment from a team of volunteer industry experts to assist our professional staff and consultants. Team members included: Jason McCarty & Aaron Mlynek, Westwood Professional Services; Larry Frank, Arcon Development; Ian Peterson Pulte Group; and Kris Ronning, Lennar. Our thanks to this group! Their expertise contributed to the many positive outcomes in this permit.
Overall the 2013 permit update contained relatively moderate changes to the existing permit, with a couple of key exceptions. BATC’s outreach in meeting with the MPCA leadership and our public comments were effective in communicating our position to the MPCA, resulting in several industry wins described below:
Issue: The MPCA proposed to double the amount of required inspections by lowering the triggering rain event from .5” to .25”. BATC strongly objected given the minimal resource protection and cost increases for all homes under construction.
Outcome: In a big win for BATC members, the MPCA agreed with BATC and removed their proposal, leaving the rain event trigger at its current .5”.
Site Requirements: Rain Gauge
Issue: The MPCA proposed that each site have its own rain gauge to officially measure rain events on site.
Outcome: Another win for BATC, the rain gauge requirement was relaxed and official gauges within one mile of the development are suitable for compliance. On custody requirements.
Issue: BATC expressed concern that the draft permit proposed to invalidate a SWPPP automatically if an accuracy error was present.
Outcome: In another win for BATC, the language was softened, replacing the invalidation language with process language to better deal with inaccuracies.
Chain of Responsibility:
Issue: BATC contended that it’s unreasonable to require an owner to include a full chain or responsibility at the time of SWPPP application. In many cases, the owner cannot know the identities of all the operators who will be on the site and will have responsibilities under the provisions of the SWPPP.
Outcome: The MPCA agreed and added flexibility to the permit which requires to SWPPP to be amended as operators are known, not at the time of application.
DNR Water Restrictions
Issue: As proposed, the stabilization requirements near DNR restricted waters for fish spawning could be interpreted to apply to an entire development.
Outcome: As suggested by BATC, the language was amended to state that stabilization must occur in all exposed soils within 200 feet of DNR water restricted areas, not the entire development.
Inlet Protection Safety Risk
Issue: BATC contended that it is unreasonable and unrealistic to require the permittee to ask for permission to remove inlet protection when the public safety is at risk for issues such as street flooding, freezing, etc.
Outcome: The MPCA agreed with BATC, if a public safety risk is identified by the permittee protection may be removed by the developer.
Issue: BATC contended that minimizing soil compaction should not be required where the intended function of a specific area of the site dictates that it be compacted (such as under slabs, sidewalks, paving and other site structures that require a compacted subgrade)
Outcome: The MPCA agreed and included language clarifying that soil compaction is not required in specific areas.
Repair of BMPs
Issue: BATC submitted that repair requirement within 24 hours of discovery was too restrictive.
Outcome: MPCA agreed and included language allowing for repair by the close of the next business day following discotry
Infiltration – Permanent Treatment Requirements
Issue: The MIDS (minimal impact design standards) process that BATC has been participating in for the past three years has influenced the policy around permanent treatment of stormwater on-site. BATC argued that a 1” permanent treatment required is onerous for regional developments with challenging soil and site conditions
Outcome: The MPCA decided to maintain the 1” permanent treatment requirement for new residential developments.
IMPORTANT: Enforcement – BATC has recently received feedback from the MPCA regarding compliance with the existing Stormwater Permit requirements. There are concerns that gaps in compliance throughout the metro are at an elevated level. Be aware that MPCA enforcement staff are visiting job sites to ensure compliance with the Stormwater Permit. Non-compliance may result in warnings and/or fines to the responsible parties.
Member Education – Given the permit update and questions about gaps in compliance, BATC University is considering an education event to highlight the permit update changes. Stay tuned to the Voice for details.