West Virginia DEP seeks public comment to the draft Multi-Sector Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activity Permit Reissuance

On November 26, 2013 the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection published the draft re-issuance of the Multi-Sector General WV/NPDES  Permit for Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity Permit ( WV/NPDES Permit No. WV0111457).  This general permit covers multiple industrial activities, and it is proposed to be reissued for a five year term.

State and Federal law require that storm water discharges associated with industrial activity from point sources must be covered by an appropriate National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES).  Any particular point source discharge of storm water associated with industrial activity may be covered by an individual NPDES permit issued to a permittee.  Quite often, a permittee that has a NPDES permit for some other reason (such as a discharge from a wastewater treatment plant) will have their storm water discharge outlets covered under that individual permit.

However, in order to streamline the permitting process and allow for quicker permitting time, most permitting agencies (including the West Virginia DEP) established a “general” permit which contains the required terms and conditions for permitted storm water discharges.  Permittees can establish permit coverage for their storm water discharges by properly registering with the agency for general permit coverage.  Once a permittee has properly registered for general permit coverage, such permittee has, in essence, has agreed to be bound by the terms and conditions of the general permit, which often include requirements for sampling, effluent limits, and penalties for violation of the permit terms.  Accordingly, any permittee that is covered by the general permit should be very interested in whether its operations can reasonably meet the terms and conditions of the general permit.

Issuance (or reissuance) of an NPDES permit (both Individual Permits and General Permits) provide specific opportunities for a permittee to comment, suggest changes, and in some cases negotiate and/or appeal permits and their associated terms and conditions.  With this reissuance of the Multi Sector Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activity Permit, interested parties are given the opportunity to comment on the permit while it is still in “draft” form.  The comment period for this draft general permit is from December 5, 2013 to January 6, 2014.   After receiving comments to the draft permit, the WV DEP will consider whether to make any changes in the permit prior to issuing the permit in “final” form.  Once the permit is issued in final form, agency rules allow for an affected party to appeal the final permit to the Environmental Quality Board.   Given the time frames involved, if you or your operations may be affected by the terms and conditions of the Multi Sector Permit, we suggest you participate in the process of reissuance by providing relevant comment to the draft permit prior to the close of the comment period, and consider whether an appeal of the final permit is appropriate.

In substance, the draft permit has very few changes from the previous permit.  The permit includes a new section covering airports with over 1,000 jet departures yearly if urea deicers are used at the facility (See table H-1B), and includes a permit limitation for Ammonia of 4 mg/l maximum concentration on a daily basis, and requires sampling at least once per year.  Further, the draft permit has dropped from coverage discharges associated with Material Storage Piles at Cement Manufacturing Facilities (See table E-3 of the 2009 General Permit).  Accordingly, if your operations were previously covered by Section E-3 of the 2009 permit, you may need to seek coverage under an individual permit if another section of the 2014 General Permit does not provide adequate permit coverage.

Copies of the Draft Multi Sector permit are available from the WVDEP, or you can contact the author and we will be glad to send a copy.

Richard Lewis practices in the areas of domestic and international business law with a focus on environmental and energy-related legal matters. He represents clients general business negotiations and before federal, state and appellate courts and administrative agencies in civil, criminal, and penalty proceedings.
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