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PENNSYLVANIA BRACING FOR ANOTHER WAVE OF WET WEATHER MUNICIPAL PERMITS – THE PHASE II STORM WATER PERMITS

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Abstract:

The Department of Environmental Protection is still deciphering over 130 pages of the three-column, typeset Federal Register describing the new EPA Phase II Stormwater regulations for developing its Phase II Storm Water Permitting Strategy. This strategy would provide for a more sensible, practical and implementable approach to permitting of small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). In this paper, the author will provide general background and the state perspective and approach for municipal compliance with the regulatory requirements.

EPA's final Phase II regulations were published on December 8, 1999, in the Federal Register. The new regulations extend the NPDES Stormwater permitting requirements to sources and activities that were not previously subject to permitting under its Phase I Stormwater program. In Pennsylvania, the Phase II regulations require permitting of approximately 700 small MS4s and a case-by-case permitting need review of 17 potential small MS4s, lower the current permitting ceiling of five acres for construction activities to one acre, and provide for some changes to the current Phase I Stormwater program. The regulations establish a specific schedule for permitting authorities to complete permits and for MS4s to submit permit applications and obtain permits.

The Department of Environmental Protection is developing a Phase II MS4 Stormwater Permitting Strategy. This paper will summarize the essence of the proposed State Strategy and describe what the Phase II regulations require of the Department and the regulated communities, provide answers to the basic questions of who is affected, what is required, when permit applications are to be submitted, what permitting options are available, what types of permits may be available, what minimum information on permit applications may be necessary, and what, if any, funding assistance may be available to small MS4s. The paper will also highlight key regulatory provisions (flexibility, maximum extent practicable permits, permit waivers, pre-qualification of approvable or equivalent programs, etc.) that are of interest to the regulated MS4s.

The paper will describe the Department's systematic plan and schedule for developing necessary permit documents, carrying out public outreach⊘education activities, and working with the regulated communities in permitting and post permitting compliance efforts.

At the end, the paper will present major real and⊘or potential issues and attempt to provide answers or suggestions to several technical, policy, legal and institutional issues that face the Department and the regulated communities. Many of the issues have national significance and are not unique to Pennsylvania communities.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864701784835835

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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