Final Rule Targets Water Pollution from Construction Sites
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Nov. 23 issued a final rule to help reduce water pollution from construction sites. The agency believes this rule, which takes effect in February 2010 and will be phased in over four years, will significantly improve the quality of water nationwide.
Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby waterbodies.
The final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure that soil disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby waterbodies.
In addition, owners and operators of sites that impact 10 or more acres of land at one time will be required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on discharges to minimize the impact on nearby waterbodies. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.
Soil and sediment runoff is one of the leading causes of water quality problems nationwide. Soil runoff from construction has also reduced the depth of small streams, lakes and reservoirs, leading to the need for dredging.