Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Ecology seeks comments on draft general permit for industrial stormwater

Attend one of the six workshops around the state

When rain or snow melt run off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots, we call it stormwater. Stormwater can pick up pollutants that contaminate local water bodies and potentially harm fish and other aquatic life. We use stormwater permits to protect the water quality of Washington’s lakes, rivers, and marine waters.

Industrial buildings with containers around and clean cement.
An example of one of the 1,200 industrial sites in Washington
that fall under the general permit.
Stormwater can also pick up pollutants from factories and businesses. The Industrial Stormwater General Permit helps ensure industrial facilities meet federal and state regulations to protect Washington’s water quality. Industrial facilities that are similar in their processes and types of stormwater runoff fall under this general permit. We require many types of industrial sites in Washington to monitor, measure, and reduce stormwater pollution leaving their facilities.

We update the Industrial Stormwater General Permit every five years. As part of this process, we invite the public to give feedback on the proposed draft permit from May 1 until June 29, 2019.

What are the proposed changes?

We are proposing to add two new business sectors, based on public input during the last permit update and our experience with facilities in these categories. Businesses in these new sectors would need to apply for coverage under the industrial permit. We expect this will add about 50 new permitees.
  • Heavy machinery rental yards that handle large earthmoving equipment, heavy trucks, log loaders, etc. This excludes businesses that provide equipment rental for home use. This category is of concern as it involves machinery stored and repaired outside and has the potential to cause oil, metals, and other pollution from the equipment and maintenance activities to go into the stormwater system. 
  • Marine Construction storage facilities where construction materials and machinery are stored and maintained. This would not cover construction that occurs in marine waters, but does cover land-based storage yards. Pollutants of concern are metals, oil, solids, and other pollutants based on location and type of construction.

Other permit changes include:

Stacked bunches of logs with equipment for moving the logs, mud free of any bark or debris.
An example of a clean log yard using good bark management.
  • Changing the timing of First Fall Storm Event sampling– this is the first precipitation event leading to discharge of stormwater after the dry season. Pollutants generally accumulate over the dry season and are washed out during the first fall storms, making it important data to catch. Based on climate data for the state, we propose to move the timing of when to begin monitoring for the First Fall Storm Event from October 1, to September 1.
  • Revising requirements for Consistent Attainment – If businesses consistently meet their benchmarks over two years, they may be able to reduce monitoring to once a year for three years. We are proposing to require one fourth quarter sample to verify that permittees are still meeting the requirements for reduced monitoring.

A full list of changes between the last permit and the new draft permit can be found in the permit factsheet.

Listening to stakeholders throughout the process

We received feedback from many stakeholders during early engagement on this update process. From June to November 2018, we held several listening sessions in eastern and western Washington and gathered email and online comments with specific input. We considered these comments as we developed the draft permit.

How to comment

An example of a clean site using source control over equipment.
See the overhang on the building on the right that prevents stormwater
contact with outdoor equipment
We have now opened our formal comment period, and we invite comments on the draft documents from May 1 through June 29, 2019. You can find the draft permit and supporting documents, as well as other information on our webpage. You can submit comments using our online comment system.

We will also hold a series of workshops and public hearings, during which you can learn about the proposed changes to the permit and provide formal comment. Information on workshops and public hearings can be found on our public events page.

Once we close the comment period, we will review and respond to comments. Our response to comments will be included in the final permit documents. We intend to make a final decision on updating the permit in Fall 2019.

Preventing runoff pollution

When we cover the land with hardened surfaces like roads, parking lots, sub-divisions and shopping malls, we restrict its ability to soak up water and naturally filter out pollution. To allow for businesses to grow we provide tools to help people, businesses, and local governments manage their runoff pollution.  Learn more about stormwater runoff and what you can do about it.

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