Final 2018 Construction Stormwater Permit Released

 Silt fencing at a construction site in Cottage Grove, Minn.

Silt fencing at a construction site in Cottage Grove, Minn.

 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released the final 2018 Construction Stormwater Permit on July 25, 2018. The 2018 Permit, which goes into effect on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, includes changes requested by Housing First Minnesota.

In May, Housing First Minnesota sent a letter to the MPCA seeking changes to five items, including several provisions that would have expanded enforcement actions under the new Permit, with MPCA making each of the requested changes.

One difference between the earlier draft and the final permit, however, concerns industry experts. In April 2017, Housing First Minnesota requested the repair time frame be increased, a change that was included in the draft version of the permit released in April 2018. Instead of increasing the repair time frame to “BMPs prior to the next anticipated rain event or within three (3) calendar days whichever comes first” as planned, the MPCA revered to the existing language of “by the end of the next business day after discovery” in the final 2018 Permit. According to the MPCA, while there was a consensus that the repair time frame should increase, concern over the term “next anticipated rain event” caused the improved repair time frame to be excluded from the final draft.

David Siegel, executive director of Housing First Minnesota, in a letter to the MPCA sent on July 31, asked the agency to increase the repair time frame should the MPCA modify the new permit.

What’s New In 2018
The most notable change in the 2018 permit is the format, which has been completely rewritten.

Permit coverage effective dates have also changed. Under the final 2018 Permit, the mandatory seven-day waiting period for the permit to go into effect has changed to once the permit payment has processed, typically one business day. For projects currently requiring a 30-day waiting period, the waiting period has changed to upon the completion of the application and payment process and after the MPCA has determined that the permit plan meets all the requirements.

The process to amend the stormwater plan for projects when making cost effective substitutions has been improved.

While most changes are viewed as an improvement, the 2018 Permit does include a change that will increase construction costs. One change, which comes from the EPA, requires construction materials to be covered and protected from stormwater runoff.

What’s The Same
Other than the reformatting, changes noted above and several other minor tweaks, the 2018 Permit is essentially the same as it is today.

A permit is still required for projects disturbing one or more acres of soil, less than one acre of soil if that activity is part of a “larger common plan of development or sale” that is greater than one acre, or for less than one acre of soil, but the MPCA determines that the activity poses a risk to water resources.

Although the 2018 Permit goes into effect on August 1, sites operating under the current Construction Stormwater Permit (2013), have 18 months to completed before falling under the 2018 Permit. There will be no additional permit fees for existing projects transferring to the 2018 Permit after the 18-month window expires.

Learn more at HousingFirstMN.org/stormwater.