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02.16.2016 Legal News

EPA Simplifies SWPPPs for Small Residential Construction Projects

Developing a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) for a construction project can take a lot of time and effort, and the requirements for a small project usually don’t differ from those for a large project.  EPA wants to change that.  As of December, 2015, builders of small residential projects in the four states where EPA issues stormwater permits may use a new SWPPP template.  The template significantly streamlines what has to be done to be able to use EPA’s 2012 construction general permit (CGP).  If your project is in one of the 46 states that issue their own permits, you’re out of luck, at least for the time being.  However, EPA’s intention is that your state agency will see the value in the template and then incorporate it into the state’s general permit program. 

According to the National Association of Home Builders, EPA’s new template is one-fifth the size of many SWPPPs and greatly simplifies the drafting process.  For a project to qualify to use the template, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The project consists only of the construction of residential single family or duplex dwellings;
  • The area of disturbance is less than one acre;
  • Five or more single family dwellings or duplexes are not being built within the same common plan of development; and
  • The builder is not responsible for construction and/or maintenance of roads (not including driveways) or storm sewer or ditch networks.

Other necessary requirements include that the project must be eligible for CGP coverage, it may not be located in a sensitive area, and it may not impact historic properties.  Use of the template is optional, and CGP conditions such as submission of a Notice of Intent to obtain permit coverage and submission of a Notice of Termination to terminate permit coverage remain applicable. 

To comply with the CGP, a builder may complete all sections of the template which then serves as a project’s SWPPP.  The document must be retained on-site and available in accordance with permit requirements.

If you’d like to use the template but can’t because it’s not applicable in your state, bring it to the attention of your state regulators and suggest that they consider adopting it into the state’s construction stormwater permit program.

Small Residential Lot Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Template, 2012 EPA Construction General Permit, EPA 830-K-15-001 (December 2015).