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General Description

Unlike pollution from industry or sewage treatment facilities, which is caused by a discrete number of sources, stormwater pollution is caused by the daily activities of people everywhere. It includes stormwater runoff, snow melt runoff, and surface runoff and drainage over the surface of the facility whether the surface be dirt, asphalt, concrete, wood, etc. For a more comprehensive description, see EPA's overview of the Stormwater Program and EPA's customizable stormwater outreach materials.

If you think you may have a permit, but are unsure; or you have a permit and are unsure of the requirements, see the EPA database of NPDES permits.

To see state and EPA compliance and enforcement data that resides in Federal systems pertaining to the Clean Water Act (CWA), go to the Online Tracking Information System (OTIS) for Government Agencies.

(NOTE: Other websites/data systems which contain information about issues such as: your compliance record, the permits you have, the wastes generated by your facility and your neighbors, the status of your watersheds, air monitoring data, and population statistics can be found under My Community/My Facility.)

Summary of Federal Requirements

All stormwater discharges associated with industrial and construction activities that discharge to Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), or directly into waters of the United States are required to obtain either:

  • individual NPDES stormwater permit coverage, or
  • coverage under the state or EPA's general permit
Consult the Authorization Status for EPA's Stormwater Construction and Industrial Programs and the NPDES State Program Status for information on whether your state or the Federal EPA is the permitting authority.

Specifically, a facility must obtain permit coverage for industrial activities if the activity falls under:

  • one of the 11 categories of Industrial Stormwater Activities, including construction, that result in stormwater discharge to Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), or directly to waters of the United States, or
  • one of the 30 Industrial Sectors listed for the Multi-Sector General Permit.
These activities are defined by either the facilities certain Standard Industrialization Classification, or a general description of the facilities industrial activities.

Federal Facilities that often require stormwater permit coverage include:

  • General Services Administration (Federal Government construction)
  • Naval Facilities Command (transportation vehicles)
  • Army Corps of Engineers (DoD construction)
  • Bureau of Reclamation (transportation vehicles), and
  • other facilities that perform industrial activities, have vehicle fleets and frequently undergo building construction
To facilitate the stormwater permitting process, EPA's Electronic Notice of Intent (eNOI) system allows construction sites and industrial facilities seeking coverage under EPA's stormwater permits to file their forms electronically. Permittees can obtain and terminate permit coverage under EPA's Construction General Permit (CGP), modify and amend previously filed forms, calculate and file a low-erosivity waiver, and much more. This new system will be expanded to include the Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities (MSGP) when this permit is finalized. To use the new and improved eNOI system, please visit http://www.epa.gov/npdes/eNOI.

A critical component of every stormwater permit are the assigned Best Management Practices (BMPs). Which BMPs to include and which to exclude can be a part of the permit negotiation process. EPA's Urban Best Management Practice (BMP) Performance Tool provides access to summary information on studies that have been published in recognized journals or that have met detailed criteria established by EPA. Consulting this tool should simplify the selection of effective BMPs for a stormwater permit.

Consult the Window to my Environment web-based tool to identify environmental issues like air and water quality, watershed health, Superfund sites, fish advisories, impaired waters, as well as local services working to protect the environment in your area.

In December 2009, the EPA's Office of Water issued, in coordination with other Federal agencies, EPA document number 841-B-09-001. This document, titled "Technical Guidance on Implementing the Stormwater Runoff Requirements for Federal Projects under Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)" focuses on a step-by-step framework that will help federal agencies maintain pre-development site hydrology by retaining rainfall on-site through infiltration, evaporation/transpiration, and re-use to the same extent as occurred prior to development. This document was developed and issued in response to requirements in EISA and EO 13514.

Construction-related Stormwater Issues

Construction activities (including other land-disturbing activities) that disturb one to five acres are regulated under the NPDES stormwater program Phase II requirements. Activities that disturb more than 5 acres are regulated by Phase I requirements. The Phase II requirements also include smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development or sale. Sites less than 1 acre, if determined by local authorities to pose a significant risk to local watersheds, can also be required to get an NPDES permit.

Operators of regulated construction sites are required to obtain permit coverage from an authorized state or from EPA under the Construction General Permit if the state is not authorized by EPA to issue NPDES permits. The Construction General Permit or state permit outlines a set of provisions construction operators must follow to comply with the requirements of the NPDES storm water regulations. Operators of regulated construction sites are required to develop and implement Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) under the Construction General Permit.

On February 16, 2012, EPA issued the final 2012 Construction General Permit (CGP). The 2012 CGP replaces the 2008 CGP (which expired on February 15, 2012), and will provide coverage for eligible new and existing construction projects for a period of five years.

The 2012 CGP includes a number of modifications to the 2008 CGP, many of which are necessary to implement the new Effluent Limitations Guidelines and New Source Performance Standards for Construction and Development point sources, known as the C&D rule. The C&D rule requires construction site operators to meet restrictions on erosion and sediment control, pollution prevention, and stabilization. Coverage under the 2012 CGP will be available for eligible construction activities in the following areas:

Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Midway and Wake Islands, North Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico. Indian Country lands within Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Areas within Colorado, Delaware, Vermont, Washington subject to construction by Federal Operators. Limited areas of Oklahoma and Texas.

The following sites provide more detailed guidance on issues related to stormwater compliance at construction activities:

Non-Construction Related Stormwater

The NPDES Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities (MSGP) provides facility-specific requirements for many types of industrial facilities within one overall permit for states where EPA is the permitting authority. The permit outlines steps that facility operators must take prior to being eligible for permit coverage, including development and implementation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP).

Summary of State Requirements

Most states are authorized to implement the NPDES Stormwater permit program. In a few states, territories, and on most land in Indian Country where the state is not authorized to implement the program, EPA remains the permitting authority.

A state may have requirements that are more stringent than the federal requirements. To obtain permit overage, a facility will need to consider:

  • Submitting a Notice of Intent or permit application,
  • Developing and implementing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, and
  • Submitting a Notice of Termination.

State-by-state guidance concerning stormwater can be found at ENVCAP's Stormwater Resource Locator.

State-by-state guidance concerning industrial stormwater can be found at ENVCAP's Industrial Stormwater Resource Locator.

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Regulatory Sources
40 CFR 122.26
EPA Administered Permit Programs, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Stormwater Discharges.

40 CFR 122.41
EPA Administered Permit Programs, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Conditions Applicable to All Permits.

State Stormwater Guidance
State-by-State information on stormwater.

State Industrial Stormwater Guidance
State-by-State information on industrial stormwater.

Oil Spill Prevention Self-Audit Checklist for the Construction Industry

Related Topics
EPA Region 1 Seminar on Stormwater & Low Impact Development
Seminar was held on June 10, 2008 in Boston, MA. The related documents provide the seminar agenda and various presentations.

Clean Water Act Trends Map and Annual Noncompliance Report
This interactive site, a part of the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) system, provides basic information about Clean Water Act direct dischargers, such as: number of permits issued; how frequently sampling data is reviewed to determine if violations occurred; frequency of violations; and frequency of formal enforcement actions.

Last Updated: August 19, 2013