MDE Responds to Legal Challenge To General Construction Permit For Stormwater

This new general permit would be the most progressive measure in Maryland to stop sediment from damaging waterways and eroding streambanks. We are disappointed that this challenge has been filed, despite new and improved conditions in the permit that include requirements for monitoring and plan review, critical elements of site design and erosion and sediment controls in plans, and increased public notification and participation.

The permit also incorporated numerous suggestions to improve sediment control practices to achieve water quality standards suggested through a series of stakeholder meetings, and MDE committed to comprehensively review and update the State’s erosion and sediment control technical standards in early 2009 and finalize changes by May 30, 2010.

After MDE issued its final determination for the general permit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposal that would require a numeric standard for stormwater runoff at sites over 30 acres in size. MDE will incorporate any aspects of that proposal in its update to the technical standards, and, if EPA adopts regulations requiring effluent limitations, MDE will reopen Maryland’s general permit to incorporate the effluent limitation requirements as soon as possible after federal adoption.

The draft permit, along with Montgomery County’s proposed municipal permit and revised stormwater management regulations, clearly demonstrates that Maryland is taking strong, comprehensive steps to further reduce polluted stormwater runoff.

Because the proposed general permit is being challenged, it will not become effective on January 1, 2009, as proposed. In addition, the interim general permit that was in effect expired on December 31, 2008. Therefore, developers of new construction projects disturbing one acre of land or greater shall be required to apply for an individual permit for the discharge of stormwater associated with construction activities. The process for doing so is:

1) Submit a completed application form for an individual permit for the discharge of stormwater associated with construction activities.
2) MDE publishes notice of the application and provides an opportunity for an informational meeting. Persons have 10 days following publication to request an informational meeting.
3) MDE reviews the information provided and develops appropriate permit requirements.
4) MDE publishes a notice of tentative determination. Persons have 30 days to submit written comments on the permit. Persons have 20 days to request a public hearing. If a hearing is requested, MDE publishes notice of the hearing at least 30 days before the scheduled hearing date. Persons also have 30 days from the publication of the tentative determination to submit written comments.
5) MDE issues the permit if adverse comments are not received within 30 days or a hearing is not requested.
6) If adverse comments are received, MDE prepares a final determination after the comments/hearing and publishes an additional notice providing 15 days for citizens to request a contested case hearing.
7) MDE issues the permit after 15 days if the final determination is not contested.
8) If contested, administrative procedure for the appeal process is followed.
9) Once approved, the individual permit remains in effect for a maximum of five years.
10) An application fee must be submitted with the application form before MDE will act on the request.