CONNstruction - Summer 2014 - (Page 9)

newsandviews Measuring Mud on Construction Sites By John W. Butts Executive Director, AGC of Connecticut As long as there are construction sites, there will be mud. It's pretty much unavoidable. Yet for nearly 15 years, the construction industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been at odds about how to control the amount of mud leaving a construction site during stormwater runoffs. In March of this year, the EPA published its long-awaited final stormwater rule amendments, which contain some reasonable control measures and practices on what contractors need to do to manage stormwater runoff, but which also eliminate the so-called numeric turbidity limits that AGC of America has contested since they were first raised by the agency. In March of this year, the EPA published its long-awaited final stormwater rule amendments, which contain some reasonable control measures and practices on what contractors need to do to manage stormwater runoff. The dictionary definition of turbidity means "muddy." In 2008, after having been sued by environmental groups, the EPA released a proposal that would have required certain large construction sites to meet a nationwide numeric turbidity limit, meaning they would have had to employ certain expensive treatment systems to filter out the amount of mud leaving the site during stormwater runoffs. In 2009, EPA finalized the rule, concluding that a strict numeric limit on turbidity and was feasible for larger construction sites. The numeric limit was immediately challenged by the construction industry and also by another federal agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration. In late 2010, the EPA admitted that it had established the limit based on faulty data it had obtained by technology vendors and several months later, the agency agreed to defer the limit indefinitely. It has been more than four years since then, but in its recent rule, the agency finally withdrew the numeric turbidity limit once and for all. While not a named part in the 2009 lawsuit, AGC has been integrally involved in EPA's effort to shift the focus of the federal stormwater rule from numeric turbidity limits to implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) that contractors can apply on-site to control soil erosion and sedimentation. AGC argued that EPA's numeric limit would have cost industry stakeholders up to $10 billion a year in attempts to comply, and that it's impossible for the agency to come up with a one-sizefits-all turbidity limit that will work across all geographic areas and soil types. In his comments at the time, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr was particularly blunt and to the point: "... this administration remains committed to the idea that protecting the Earth from dirt is more important than protecting the economy from costly, prescriptive and questionable new regulatory measures." If faced with a numeric limit, contractors in every state would have been required to monitor the turbidity levels in stormwater running off the construction sites, implement extremely costly advanced treatment systems (ATS) to try to meet EPA's potentially unachievable legal limit, and publicly report any cases of the limit being exceeded. In most cases, ATS are the only technology capable of filtering dirt out of rainwater in order to meet a numeric turbidity limit. However, ATS are neither cost effective nor practical options for most construction sites. Conservative estimates put the costs of ATS between $15,000 and $45,000 per acre. ATS also require specialized operators and inspectors to be available at all times, particularly during and after rain events. So having fought a successful fight against costly numeric turbidity limits, attention now turns to the EPA's new stormwater amendments and how they will affect the various states' regulatory efforts. Connecticut's DEEP modified its stormwater General Permit in October, 2013, and anticipating the EPA's stormwater changes, did not include a numeric turbidity limit. That does not mean, however, that the department chose to ignore turbidity in its General Permit. The department's rules require that contractors are still obligated to monitor the turbidity level from stormwater on a construction site and report those levels back to the department. This monitoring requirement would appear to go beyond what is called for in the new EPA rules; however, it's too soon to tell how onerous such monitoring requirements will be on the industry. CONNstruction / SUMMER 2014 / 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2014

Standardizing OQ
Measuring Mud on Construction Sites
2014 General Assembly Concludes
Transition to Natural Gas Holds Promise of Construction Jobs
CEFIA: Banking on Energy
The Public Policy Behind Energy in Connecticut
Call Before You Dig
The 2014 AGC/CT Build CT Awards and 67th Annual Meeting
The Second Annual Construction Industry Joint Forces Luncheon
Travelers Congratulates CCIA for 15 Years of Insurance Excellence
Agc of Connecticut Honored Nationally
CCIA | AGC of CT Young Contractors Forum - Membership Meeting
Index to Advertisers /

CONNstruction - Summer 2014