The Environmental Protection Agency’s intentions to expand its ability to regulate facility activities at buildings exposed to stormwater runoff could potentially affect trucking fleets with refueling, maintenance, or truck washing operations.
“The trucking sector is unique in that larger fleets may typically have facilities across the country, each of which must be familiar and comply with different state or federal stormwater requirements,” said American Trucking Associations. “As this requirement will complicate the development of properties near or on brownfields, it should be a sector-specific requirement and be eliminated for low-risk facilities.”
According to EPA’s draft proposal from this spring, stormwater runoff can cause certain pollutants to enter nearby storm sewer systems or bodies of water. In regards to public comments on the proposal, ATA was the only trucking association to comment. The proposal detailed huge updates to the agency’s five-year Multi-Sector General Permit plan for industrial stormwater runoff regulations.
EPA originally sought public comment on its 2020 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for industrial activity stormwater runoff for 60 days following the proposals’ publication in the Federal Register. Once finalized, this MSGP will replace the permit implemented in 2015.
States with EPA stormwater programs, like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or the District of Columbia, or those using permit requirements based on those of EPA, may have to drastically change their current regulations. Glen Kedzie, ATA’s energy and environmental affairs counsel, says they may even need to implement quarterly stormwater discharge sampling.
“Some fleets are not even aware they must have permits until they are reported,” explained Kedzie. “There’s been a lot of activity in California and other states where environmental groups get into public databases to figure out who is supposed to have a permit.”
EPA outlined its tiered approach to monitoring in the MSGP in order to improve stormwater data quality in its final proposal fact sheet, saying that the agency is proposing “a possible ‘inspection-only’ option in lieu of benchmark monitoring available at low-risk facilities of the proposed permit,” the requirement of new “universal benchmark monitor,” the continuation of current benchmark monitoring requirements in place from 2015’s MSGP, and the requirement of “continued benchmark monitoring as part of the proposed Additional Implementation Measures protocol for repeated benchmark exceedances.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, which commented on the proposal, recommended this monitoring approach, and suggested the effort focuses on “gathering high-quality data for future rule-makings rather than immediate, burdensome, regulatory requirements.” The organization said this would “ensure that the 2020 Multi-Sector General Permit will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”
Environmental Strategies & Management of Massachusetts also weighed in on the universal benchmark proposition, saying it is “rather onerous and burdensome” for small businesses in industry sectors which have stormwater runoff that has “very minor, if any, effect to surface water.”
In regards to the trucking industry in particular, companies like those within the ready-mix concrete business must have permits for the rinse water needed for washing their thousands of trucks and wide range of equipment, which would be extremely tedious. These requirements would bring an onslaught of paperwork for just the act of washing alone.
Land transportation and warehouse facility quarterly benchmark monitoring is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $12,500 per facility each year, if a facility plans to meet all of these requested parameters. These costs include lab analysis, equipment, materials, and staffing costs; however, costs will vary due to the number of permitted outfalls.
These EPA updates come from a 2016 settlement which required the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s National Research Council to make recommendations regarding improved ways to mitigate surface water pollution from industrial companies to EPA.
Although this permit will only be administered in a few states, other states with the ability to continue their own regulation systems will need major program revisions if their current oversight does not meet federal standards.
Additionally, the proposed MSGP would involve 29 different sectors of industrial activity and their stormwater discharges. The sectors include Land Transportation, Water Transportation, and Transportation Equipment (industrial or commercial machinery).