Introduction: Ohio EPA allows most industries to manage stormwater (surface runoff) under the guidelines of a general permit. This basic approach was renewed in February 2006, with minor changes. The heart of the General Permit is the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan which an industry is expected to prepare, but is not required to submit to the OEPA. Industry permittee is responsible for self-monitoring, reporting, and actual stormwater control. Site verification by OEPA may or may not occur. About 2,500 facilities in Ohio fall under the General Industrial Stormwater Permit and about 500 file no permit under the “no exposure” exemption claim that materials are not exposed to stormwater. The Sierra Club calls for a stronger industrial stormwater program, and has suggestions for how this can be accomplished.


SIERRA CLUB COMMENTS

GENERAL PERMIT: STORM WATER DISCHARGES, INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY

Central Ohio Sierra Club
36 West Gay Street, Ste 314; Columbus OH 43215

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Division of Surface Water – Storm Water Section
122 South Front St, PO Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049

Thanks to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) for the opportunity to review the Draft General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (“the General Permit”).

This draft is a renewal of an existing industrial storm water general permit, with some modifications; both are based on the 1993 federal approach. The heart of the General Permit is the requirement for a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3). The system of regulating storm water runoff from industrial sites under this General Permit is based largely on trust. There is no requirement that the SWP3 actually be submitted to OEPA. Industry permittee is responsible for self-monitoring, reporting, and actual storm water control. Site verification by EPA may or may not occur.

We understand that about 2,500 facilities in the state fall under the General Permit and about 500 file no permit under the “no exposure” exemption claim that materials are not exposed to storm water. We hope that the agency will be able to strengthen the industrial storm water program. Following are suggestions that may help the process.

Applications and stormwater prevention plans should be submitted to OEPA and available to the public online.

The General Permit notes that the SWP3 is “available upon request to the Ohio EPA Director, or authorized representative.” The Plan should be required to be submitted to the agency. More information could be made available online for public review. (IV.B; page 10)

Stormwater prevention plans should include information about receiving waters.

The SWP3 is to include site information on stored materials, hazards, storm water outfalls, runoff controls, etc. but it requires little information about the offsite drainage system. (IV.D/pages 11-13). The Plan should contain information on receiving waters and their use designations, especially impaired waters near the industrial site. Further, the Plan should contain information on any municipal sewer facilities to which it connects: location of sewer pipes, manholes, overflows, storm drains – along with contact information for the municipal utility agency and emergency contacts.

Verify compliance through regular inspections.

Permittee is responsible for annual site evaluation. (IV.D.4/page 14-15). The resulting report is not required by OEPA. The report should be submitted to OEPA, publicly accessible online, and retained for longer than 3 years. It would seem advisable to require site inspections at least as frequently in mine areas.

List sources of information on preferred storm water controls in the Permit.

The General Permit will function as de facto rules or guidelines for industrial storm water management. It should include guidance on preferred methods for management of runoff and a source of information. (IV.3.D.i/page 14) – along with stricter controls.

The General Permit should include numeric limits or standards for all industries, not just those with coal pile runoff.

The only numeric limits in the Permit are for coal pile runoff, and that is only for Total Suspended Solids and pH. (V.A / page 19). Coal pile runoff should have added numeric limits. All industries should be subject to runoff limits for TSS, pH, and salts. The listed categories of industrial activity (page 20) should have numeric limits in the monitoring categories. All industries should be required to measure or model storm water runoff volumes and rates, ideally with some sort of control or limit. Monitoring should happen more often than once annually, and be reported to OEPA. (V.B. / page 19 – 23, 25)

Requirements should be stiffened for Section 313 water priority chemicals.

There are additional requirements when Section 313 water priority chemicals are present. (IV.D.7/pages 15 – 19). The General Permit suggests “minimizing discharges” of these substances. The bar should be higher. Records of discharges should be reported to OEPA and included in later SWP3 and any annual reports. (IV.D.3.i.5.d/page 17).

Major polluters should not be covered under the General Permit and must require an individual permit. (VII.M / page 29)

As written, the Permit expressly excludes bulk terminals, mineral mining operations, landfills, marinas, construction activity, and new discharges to Superior High Quality Waters, Outstanding State Waters, and Outstanding National Resource Waters. (I.C/ pages 2-3)

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on this General Permit,

Cyane Gresham; Water Quality Coordinator, Ohio Sierra Club