EPA has agreed to update the federal regulations for permitting stormwater runoff by November 2016. The proposed rules are intended to strengthen existing regulations for communities with populations less than 100,000 people. The agreement by EPA is a result of a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) in December 2014 in which EPA was accused of essentially dragging its feet in regard to implementing a previous court order to update the stormwater runoff rules. The initial case was a 2003 lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) against the EPA. The exact deadlines as listed in the court order are December 15, 2015 for the proposed rule and November 17, 2016 for the final rule. 

 In addition to urban runoff, the EPA is also charged with making a science-based determination of whether polluted runoff from forest roads is so severe that national pollution control standards are necessary. I find the task of quantifying forest road runoff very intriguing, and I would expect that runoff from forest roads is highly dependent on the type of road, how it is used and maintained, and the slope of the surrounding terrain. According to EPA’s fact sheet for nonpoint source of pollution associated with forestry activities, road construction and road use contribute up to 90 percent of the total sediment from forestry operations.

If you have additional questions, please contact Daniel Hardin, P.E., at danielh@smithmanage.com.  Dan is Project Engineer with Smith Management Group.