Statewide Stormwater Permit Revisions Could Limit Citizen Suits Against Industry
April 22, 2011
San Francisco Daily Journal
The State Water Resources Control Board is on the verge of adopting revisions to the Industrial Stormwater General Permit that could have a major impact on the regulated community. The draft permit, versions of which have been under review for nearly a decade, will likely be adopted in late 2011 or early 2012. The State Board recently extended the comment period on the draft permit until April 29.
There are three key new elements to the draft permit. First, it adopts U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) benchmark levels as numeric effluent limits on contaminants in storm water discharges, requiring facilities with repeated discharges in excess of those limits to take corrective action, and – if exceedances persist – pay mandatory minimum penalities. Second, the draft permit will require industrial facilities operating under the permit to adopt significant – and potentially expensive – charges to their storm water management programs, including mandatory minimum best management practices, more frequent monitoring, and increased training for employees. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the draft permit may limit the circumstances in which plainitiffs can file Clean Water Act citizen suits based on detections of contaminants in stormwater discharge.