Stormwater Rules Have Changed and Metal Finishers Must Take Action
The Rules are Changing
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 and should currently be abiding by its requirements. But
many -- probably most -- metal finishers have either determined that
they do not have stormwater exposure, or have remained unaware of the
This situation is changing. Revised stormwater regulations,
referred to as Phase
II Stormwater rules, were published by EPA in 1999. The Phase
II rules have changed the "no exposure" option. Now, all metal finishing
facilities (except those located in specified arid areas) must either:
- have an NPDES stormwater permit, or
- submit a written certification to their NPDES permitting
authority once every five years indicating that the facility meets
the definition of "no exposure".
In other words, if you determine that you have no exposure, it is
no longer sufficient simply to take no further action. You are
now 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 currently out of compliance.
The purpose of this NMFRC feature is twofold:
- to alert metal finishers about the Phase II requirements for written
- for companies that are currently out of compliance, to offer
guidance on how to get into compliance
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
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
You should also know that the administration of the Phase II rules
and in particular, the revised "no exposure" exemption, is
still unsettled within many states. For example, your state may or
may not have set a due date for submitting a Phase II certification.
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
- material handling equipment or activities
- industrial machinery
- raw materials, intermediate products, by-products, final products,
or waste products.
EPA has prepared a useful document to explain this rule: Storm
Water Phase II Final Rule, Conditional No Exposure Exclusion for
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 NMFRCâ€™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
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 is due. The Phase II rule did not specify a due date. Some
states have adopted a March 10, 2003 due date, which correlates with
other due dates found in the Phase II rules. However, in some
states, the certification may already be past due. Use our SWRL feature to track down this
information for your state, and to find contact information.
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,
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.
Perform regular inspections to insure your compliance with
- 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.