After a long wait, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has finally renewed the NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (PAG-03). In order for existing sites to maintain their coverage under the renewed PAG-03 General Permit, you must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the PADEP on or before March 23, 2023. While this renewed permit is similar to the prior PAG-03 permit, there are significant changes that could affect your Facility’s operations. These changes should be discussed with your environmental laboratory and consultants.
As with the prior permit, discharges to High Quality (HQ) or Exceptional Value (EV) waters are excluded from coverage under the General Permit. Accordingly, facilities whose receiving streams have been redesignated as HQ or EV waters are no longer eligible for a General Permit, and must apply for an Individual Permit no later than March 23, 2023.
What’s Required with the NOI Submission?
- An updated Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency (PPC) Plan needs to be included with the NOI.
- Laboratory analytical results may be required for facilities that discharge to receiving waters with an already specified impairment. For example:
- For receiving waters already impaired by excess siltation, sediment and/or flow variability, the discharging facility should report Total Suspended Solids (TSS) with their NOI.
- For receiving waters already impaired by nutrients, the discharging facility should report Total Phosphorus and Total Nitrogen should be reported.
- For receiving waters with existing TMDLs for specific pollutants, the discharging facility may need to submit lab data for that specific pollutant.
For outfalls associated with stormwater basins that do not typically discharge, samples may be taken at the basin outflow.
If no samples were taken within the last two years, any samples taken over the previous permit term (since September 23, 2016) may be reported on the NOI.
Facilities should act quickly in order to obtain the required outfall sample results prior to the March 23rd submission deadline.
What New Monitoring & Reporting Requirements Are There?
The renewed PAG-03 requires increased levels of response for continual exceedances of the “Benchmark Values”. The first requirement is unchanged: two or more consecutive monitoring period exceedances of Benchmark Values triggers the requirement to develop and submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), implement additional controls, or apply for an individual permit if notified in writing by DEP. However, after four consecutive exceedances of the Benchmark Values, the renewed PAG-03 now requires permittees to submit the Stormwater BMP Checklist (3800-PM-BCW0083l) to certify that all applicable BMP controls have been considered for implementation. In addition,
- new benchmark values of 9.0 S.U. for pH, 120 mg/L COD and 3.0 mg/ for Nitrate and Nitrite-Nitrogen have been added to each appendix that contains monitoring for those parameters; and
- the new PAG-03 now requires monitoring for Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus in all covered industrial sectors.
New Laboratory Analytical Requirements
Permittees and their labs are now required to use an analytical method capable of meeting the Target Quantitation Limits (TQLs) for the parameters identified in the new PAG-03 General Permit. Failure to achieve the TQLs will be considered non-compliance by the PADEP, even though the TQL’s are an order of magnitude or less than the benchmark values. Based on our discussions with environmental laboratories, most of these TQL’s can typically be achieved, but some Method Detection Limits, for example, total aluminum and ammonia-nitrogen, are slightly below the laboratory’s method detection limit. Note that the environmental laboratory may need to use different analytical methods to achieve the TQL’s. This issue will need to be resolved with the PADEP in the coming months.
Brickhouse Environmental’s experienced staff of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Scientists are already working on several of our clients’ permit renewals, but we are happy and ready to assist you with your stormwater design, permitting and compliance implementation as well.
For more information, please contact Al Yates, P.E.