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Stormwater Rules for Metal Finishers
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Phase II Stormwater Regulations
The original EPA stormwater regulations (referred to as Phase I) went into
effect in 1990. These rules required certain types of industrial facilities to
obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for
their stormwater discharge. Operators of one of those types of facilities
(category 11 - “light industry”) were exempted from the permit requirement
provided their industrial materials or activities were not “exposed” to
stormwater. The 1990 stormwater regulations allowed metal finishing facilities
(and other facilities categorized as “light industry”) to make their own determination
of whether or not there was exposure of industrial materials to
stormwater. If not, there was no need to submit a permit application.Those metal finishers who do have “exposure” to stormwater should have
applied for a permit. But many -- probably most -- metal finishers have
either determined that they do not have stormwater exposure, or have remained
unaware of the regulation.The regulatory situation changed in 2003.Revised stormwater regulations, referred to as Phase
II Stormwater rules, were published by EPA.The Phase II rules eliminated the “no exposure” option and all
metal finishing facilities (except those located in specified arid areas) must
have an NPDES stormwater
submit a written
certification to their NPDES permitting authority once every
five years indicating that the facility meets the definition of “no
In other words, if you determine that you have no exposure, it is no longer
sufficient simply to take no further action. You are required to document
your determination in writing.If you do not meet the definition of “no exposure”, and if you do not have a
stormwater permit, you are out of compliance.The purpose of this NMFRC feature is twofold:
to alert metal finishers
about the Phase II requirements for written certification (recertification
in 2008 for most facilities), and
for companies that are
currently out of compliance, to offer guidance on how to get into
Who is the NPDES Stormwater Regulatory Authority?
Throughout most of the nation, EPA has delegated the stormwater program to
the states to administer as they see fit, so long as minimum federal
requirements are met. Therefore, in most states you will submit your no
exposure certification or permit application to your state environmental
agency.However, some states may not yet have the authority to administer this
program. For the following states, you may need to submit your certification or
permit application to your Regional EPA office: Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire Texas, Florida, Maine, and Arizona. If your facility is in one of
these states, we suggest contacting both your Regional EPA office and state
agency to find out where to submit your paperwork.
To help you find the latest state information, the NMFRC maintains a Stormwater Resource
Locator (SWRL). Use the SWRL to find information, permit forms, resources,
and state agency contact information for your state.
What is the Regulatory Definition of “No Exposure”?
“No exposure” means all industrial materials and activities are
protected by a storm resistant shelter to prevent exposure to
rain, snow, snowmelt, and/or runoff. “Industrial materials or activities” include, but are not limited
equipment or activities
intermediate products, by-products, final products, or waste products.
How to Determine if You Meet the “No Exposure” Definition
Your state environmental regulatory agency may provide guidance on
determining if you meet the “no exposure” definition. Use the NMFRC’s Stormwater
Resource Locator (SWRL) to find information about your state program. EPA published a four-page No Exposure
Certification form that uses a series of yes/no questions to aid
facility operators in determining whether they have a condition of no exposure.
In some states, this form has been adopted and it may also serves as the
necessary certification of no exposure (provided the operator is able to answer
all of the questions in the negative). Most states have published their own
“no exposure” form. Use the SWRL to find the
form that should be used in your state.
Submitting Your Written Certification of “No Exposure” -- Where and
The written certification of “no exposure” should be submitted to your NPDES
authority, which can be either your state agency or the EPA Regional office in
your region, as discussed above.We recommend that you contact your NPDES authority to determine when the
certification/recertification is due. The Phase II rule did not specify a due
date. Use our SWRL feature to track down this information for your state, and to find contact
How to Apply for a NPDES Industrial Stormwater Permit
If your facility does not meet the definition of “no exposure,”
then you need a stormwater discharge permit. There are two types of NPDES
industrial storm water permits: general and individual permits. In either case,
you apply for coverage to your NPDES stormwater control authority. As discussed
above, for most states this is your environmental regulatory agency. For
certain states this is your Regional EPA office.
General Permits. Most industrial facilities have permit coverage under a statewide general
permit that covers stormwater discharges from industrial facilities within
the state. To obtain coverage under a statewide permit, you must submit a
Notice of Intent (NOI) to your state agency (or EPA Regional office if you
are in an unauthorized state). Most state general permits have similar
requirements, such as:
You must develop
and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which
specifies Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will prevent all
pollutants from contacting stormwater.
inspections to insure your compliance with all BMPs.
Individual Permits. There are certain circumstances where a general permit is either not
available or not applicable to a specific facility. In this type of
situation, a facility operator must obtain coverage under an individual
permit that the NPDES permitting authority will develop with requirements
specific to the facility. This is an involved process and you should
contact your state water pollution control agency for advice.