Donna Switzer

Donna Switzer

What Is Up with This New Permit?

You have had a Pennsylvania NPDES General Permit to discharge stormwater associated with industrial activities (PAG-03) for years, and now you have to do what?

Changes to the Pennsylvania PAG-03 General Stormwater Permit.

On September 24, 2016 the PADEP issued a new PAG-03 permit. The effects were far-reaching and permit holders are still floundering to meet the new requirements. Instead of issuing new permits to all the permit holders, the PADEP simply sent a letter saying that the new permit is now in effect.

New Appendices. All industrial categories are organized into appendices attached to the permit. The appendices identify Best Management Practices (BMP) and monitoring requirements. PADEP rearranged the different appendices, added new ones, and changed the requirements. It is likely that your facility falls into a different Appendix since the permit was reissued or has new requirements.

Monitoring. All permit holders must perform stormwater monitoring. PADEP took away the ability to conduct an inspection in lieu of monitoring.

Inspections. Semi-annual inspections are now required, with one being conducted during a storm event. There is no specified form or report on which to record the inspections, however, the annual report (see below) lists specific items addressed during the inspections.

Annual Report. By May 1 annually, the permit holder must submit an annual report to the appropriate PADEP Regional Office. The report requires you to indicate that you want to continue coverage under the permit and summarizes activities conducted during the previous year. The annual report covers when training was conducted; whether the Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency (PPC) plan was reviewed; whether BMPs were implemented; and a summary of monitoring and inspections.

Annual Fee. The Permit holder is now required to submit an annual $500 fee prior to May 1. The PADEP mails invoices for this fee in about February, and the check must be mailed to Harrisburg.

What can you do?

  • Download and read the new permit. Because the PADEP did not mail the permit to you, you must access the permit requirements on the PADEP’s eLibrary. Complete a thorough review of the permit to ensure that you will meet all the new requirements.
  • Update your Compliance Calendar. Update your legal requirements list or compliance calendar to include the new requirements – inspections, monitoring, training, PPC plan review, and annual report and fee.
  • Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Ensure that your employees know what you expect of them during monitoring, inspections, and recordkeeping related to the stormwater permit. Developing an SOP and conducting training is one way to communicate your expectations. The SOP should include checklists to be used during sampling events and inspections.
  • Plan for monitoring events. Once the SOP is developed; plan how you will do the monitoring and train your employees. Planning requires figuring out where and how to collect stormwater samples, how to track weather to ensure samples are collected during a qualifying rain event, which laboratory you will use (and obtaining the correct sample containers), and how to keep records. US EPA has published a stormwater sampling guidance document that may be a good resource.
  • Keep good records. Remember that the annual report is due May 1 but covers activities conducted during the previous year. Review the annual report and ensure that your records document the information required on the annual report. April is too late to find out that you didn’t address a permit requirement during the previous year.
  • Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMR). Because all permit holders must now conduct monitoring, all permit holders must submit DMRs. The PADEP is moving toward electronic reporting through the GreenPort online database, so permit holders must submit “Trade Agreement” forms to obtain access to the electronic system. At this time, the PADEP is months behind in granting access to permit holders.

In conclusion…

As with any permit, reviewing and knowing the requirements of the permit will enable you to develop a plan. Having a workable plan now will help to ensure that you will meet all of your permit requirements (and address all the elements of the annual report).

If you would like more information about the permit requirements, how to conduct stormwater monitoring, developing an effective SOP, or conducting personnel training, please contact us.

Resources

Author:
Donna Switzer, CHMM, CPEA Beyond Compliance LLC Consulting of the Greater Philadelphia Area

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