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PA EPA PROPOSES STORM WATER RULES FOR SMALLER CITIES AND CONSTRUCTION SITES

Release Date: 12/19/97
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1997

EPA PROPOSES STORM WATER RULES FOR SMALLER CITIES
AND CONSTRUCTION SITES


EPA this week proposed that municipalities in urbanized areas of less than 100,000 population regulate storm water from their storm sewers and that all construction sites of between one to five acres of disturbed land be controlled to prevent runoff into waterways (referred to as storm water Phase II rules). The proposal is similar to but more flexible and less costly than rules currently in effect that control storm water from larger municipalities with populations greater than 100,000 (called Phase I rules). The current storm water program, in effect since 1990, has significantly improved the nation’s surface waters by reducing polluted runoff from urban storm sewers and numerous industrial activities, including construction sites larger than five acres. Estimates by states in l992 indicated that prior to the implementation of the storm water program, roughly 46 percent of the nation’s water quality impairments were attributable to urban storm water runoff. On Oct. 18, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Vice President Gore directed EPA to issue final storm water Phase II rules by March 1, l999, as part of a new federal government Clean Water Action Plan currently being developed. The proposed rules for smaller cities would continue the controls on urban storm waters, which can be polluted by sediments, illegal toxic discharges, oils and grease and other pollutants going directly into waterways through storm sewers. The new rules would affect approximately 3,500 municipalities nationwide and 110,000 construction sites a year. The proposal provides flexibility by recommending the use of general permits which avoids individual application requirements and allows municipalities to determine the nature of storm water controls. In addition, it suggests a “best management practices approach;” encourages the use of alternative programs and controls; provides for pollution prevention; and recognizes and includes existing storm water control programs. To help cities and small construction sites implement the program, EPA will provide technical assistance and support. Final permits for small municipalities and construction sites would be required by May 31, 2002. The Phase II proposal also contains a provision to conditionally exclude from the existing Phase I storm water program those facilities that have “no exposure” of industrial activities to stormwater, including industrial products, processes, or raw materials, reducing its application to about 70,000 industrial facilities, without any increase in the amount of pollutants discharged to the nation’s surface waters. EPA believes the proposed rule will cost significantly less than an existing l995 interim rule, estimating the annual mean costs at $511 million nationwide, and mean annual quantifiable benefits at $310 million. Although not as easily quantifiable, EPA has also taken into consideration numerous public health and environmental benefits, including the public health, economic, recreational and aesthetic benefits of cleaner water as well as healthier fish and wildlife. EPA developed the proposal over a number of years incorporating extensive outreach with a wide cross-section of the American public, including states, municipalities, businesses and citizens. EPA is providing a 90-day public comment period and will hold six public hearings, one in Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, Ga.; Dallas, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; and San Francisco, Calif., through March 6, l998. The general public can get additional information by calling EPA at 202-260-5816 or on the Internet at: http://www.epa.gov/owm/new.htm.



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