EPA Signs and Issues 2021 Industrial Stormwater Permit; Status in New Administration Remains Unclear

Jan 27, 2021

(January 27, 2021) – Days before the start of the new Biden Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed and issued a pre-publication notice of the 2021 Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for industrial stormwater discharges on January 15.

NACWA previously submitted comments to EPA on several concerning elements in the draft permit that would not likely result in tangible water quality improvements. NACWA is pleased to see the final permit made significant and helpful revisions.

The draft MSGP initially proposed universal benchmark monitoring for pH, TSS, and COD for all sectors covered under the permit (including Sector T, Treatment Works). Traditionally, POTWs were not required to conduct benchmark monitoring because they are not significant contributors to water quality exceedances of industrial stormwater discharges. The final 2021 MGSP has eliminated this requirement, which is a positive development for POTWS covered under this permit.

NACWA also had concerns with a provision that required covered industries to implement control measures designed to minimize impacts from stormwater discharges from major storm events that trigger extreme flood conditions. EPA has removed this language in the final permit, which is also a positive development. While POTWs are often located on low-lying topography, the clean water community has long-standing experience dealing with building resilience from major storm events and serious flooding. The mandate to include control measures could impede or conflict with local efforts to improve and bolster resiliency.

The MSGP is set to go into effect on March 1, 2021. However, the final 2021 MSGP has not been published in the Federal Register, muddying the water as to whether this agency action is subject to the new Administration regulatory “freeze.” Because this permit is final and has been signed by EPA Regional Administrators, it is not likely to be withdrawn without a formal notice and comment period.

If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs at 202/533-1839.

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