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EPA Rule To Reduce Water Pollution From Construction Sites

November 23, 2009
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This is the first time EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule to help reduce water pollution from construction sites. The rule takes effect February 2010 and will be phased in over four years. EPA hopes it will significantly improve the quality of water nationwide.

Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby water bodies, EPA says.

The final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure the soil disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby water bodies.

In addition, owners and operators of sites that impact 10 or more acres of land at one time will be required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on discharges to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.

According to EPA research, soil and sediment runoff is one of the leading causes of water quality problems nationwide. Soil runoff from construction has also reduced the depth of small streams, lakes and reservoirs, leading to the need for dredging.

More information can be found at www.epa.gov/waterscience/guide/construction.

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