EPA Requires BMPs in Lieu of Turbidity Limits at Construction Sites

On March 6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final rule on effluent limitations for construction and development, which will go into effect May 5. The rule necessitates the use of best management practices (BMPs) to control stormwater and minimize erosion rather than setting numeric turbidity effluent limits. BMPs include common erosion control practices, such as preserving top soil and natural vegetative cover, low gradients, and maintaining buffers. These BMPs are required to reduce the volume and velocity of stormwater flows from construction sites, including peak flow rates and total storm volume.

The rule is the result of a Dec 2012 settlement between EPA and the Wisconsin Builders Association, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Utility Water Act Group. However, EPA reserves the right to revisit discharge limits in the future.

The rule clarifies the term infeasible, used when protective actions are not technologically possible or economically practical. The rule also discusses when stabilization should be utilized based on the length of time since construction activities have ceased or ended temporarily.

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