News Feature | March 20, 2014

EPA Finalizes Effluent Limits For Construction Sector

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

constructionreg

A new EPA rule attempts to mitigate nutrient pollution from the construction, utility, and housing sectors.

"After years of delay, EPA is finalizing changes to the 'Effluent limitations guidelines and standards for the Construction and Development (C&D) point source category' — also known as the C&D rule. The final rule removes numeric discharge standards — which have been on hold — and changes several of the non-numeric provisions of the existing rule," the law firm J.J. Keller Associates said in an analysis piece. 

The backdrop: Back in 2009, the EPA proposed the C&D Rule with "a numeric limitation on the allowable level of turbidity in discharges from certain construction sites," according to an analysis published by Taft Law.  

But industry pushed back against that effort. "Led by the National Home Builders Association, several groups challenged the proposed C&D Rule and filed petitions for review in the Seventh Circuit. In particular, these groups contested EPA’s data gathering and analysis used to support the numeric turbidity limit," the analysis said. 

The latest version of the rules represents a compromise. 

The EPA's "changes to the C&D Rule include the withdrawal of the numeric turbidity effluent limitation and monitoring requirements found at 40 CFR § 450.22(a) and (b)," the analysis said. 

The EPA had said it would stay the implementation of the numeric turbidity limit "while it collected additional comment and data," the analysis said. However, the final rule indicates that numeric limits are not going to be imposed, the analysis said. 

The new effluent limitations attempt to avoid previous disputes.

They codify best practices agreed upon by the Wisconsin Builders Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the Utility Water Act Group (UWAG) and the EPA, Bloomberg BNA reported.

The new rule was established under the EPA's Clean Water Act authority, according to a notice in the Federal Register. It finalizes "changes to the effluent limitations guidelines and standards for the Construction and Development point source category," the summary said. 

"EPA is promulgating these changes pursuant to a settlement agreement to resolve litigation," it continued. 

Image credit: "Construction on Incirlik Air Base," USACE HQ © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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