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Stormwater runoff regulations start July 1 for CA Businesses

Jun 08, 2015

Article Source: http://www.pe.com/articles/businesses-769175-water-stormwater.html

 

California businesses have less than a month to prepare for new stormwater runoff regulations.

Rules that kick in July 1 require more of businesses, including knowing what’s in the water that runs off their roofs or outside equipment and where it is headed after it reaches the gutter.

It also requires more companies to do such reporting.

“It is going to capture more businesses than in the past,” said Jason Pereira of California Watershed Engineering. “Folks that previously were not required to have coverage under this permit now will be.”

Pereira explained in a phone interview that in 2014 the state Water Resources Control Board updated both its requirements and procedures for its General Industrial General Permit.

People who study the requirements are in danger of sinking in an ocean of compliance terms. But there a few key points to grasp. Among them:

• Self-reporting has increased. Businesses are responsible for their own testing and developing remediation plans.

• Reporting will be done electronically, and results will be available for the public to view online.

“You do get these environmental groups looking at it, and if they have a bone to pick with somebody, they’re going to probably chase after somebody. But third-party lawsuits are nothing new,” Pereira said.

He works for a consulting firm that helps businesses with their stormwater management and has been crisscrossing Southern California to educate communities about the looming deadline.

So has David Renfrew of Alta Environmental, who explained to business owners last winter in a workshop at Riverside’s Main Library such concepts as the need to either train or hire a qualified industrial stormwater practitioner, or QISP, to create a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan, or SWPPP.

“The person doing the SWPPP needs to understand what they’re doing. There’s no special training required, but as you can see as you get into this water world of technical jargon … and figuring out where that information is, it really helps to have someone who has some knowledge,” Renfrew said.

If a property does not discharge stormwater to a U.S. waterway, the business can get a no exposure certification, or NEC. A lot of businesses will try this route, going so far as building “catch basins” so that no stormwater runoff makes it off the property to a common waterway.

But if the law does apply to a business, then beginning July 1, it will have to do certain things:

• Construct and file an SWPPP.

• Determine whether its business’ Standard Industrial Classification, or SIC, code requires it to get into compliance by July 1.

• If the business is large enough to employ a dedicated environmental officer, that person must train to become a QISP to certify its SWPPP. Smaller businesses will need to hire someone to perform those functions.

The body of water that most concerns Inland businesses is the Santa Ana River. It is the responsibility of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, based in Riverside.

Mirasol Gaslan, senior water resource control engineer, said the main impairments are pathogens, including bacteria, and nitrate. Some of the pollutants are naturally occurring.

In a phone interview, she pointed out that the number of samples businesses are required to take has increased from two to four.

Gaslan also noted that a tier strategy has been adopted for the new Industrial General Permit.

Tier I is baseline, in which according to Renfrew everyone will be in the first year.

“The bottom line goal is to keep your program in the lower baseline level,” he said.

 

Contact the writer: 951-368-9551 or [email protected]

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