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Florida DEP demonstrates steps for proper pollution prevention
When it comes to storm water permitting for construction activities, the requirements can be complex. In Florida, two storm water permitting programs regulate construction activities: the state program under Part IV, Chapter 373, F.S.—most commonly referred to as Environmental Resource Permit—and the federal storm water program. Many local governments also have storm water permitting requirements.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authorizes state agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permitting program, which regulates point source discharges of storm water runoff from certain construction sites that disturb one or more acres of land, and that discharge to surface waters of the state or into separate municipal storm sewer systems. Disturbances include clearing, grading and excavating large construction sites (disturbing five or more acres of land), and small construction sites (disturbing between one and five acres of land). When there is a common plan of development or sale that cumulatively disturbs one or more acres—such as a subdivision or office park—construction sites less than one acre also must obtain permits.
The operator—the entity that owns or operates the project and has authority to control erosion, sediment and storm water to ensure permit compliance—of regulated construction sites must obtain an NPDES storm water permit and implement appropriate pollution prevention techniques to minimize erosion and sedimentation and properly manage storm water. To simplify obtaining a permit, the Florida DEP adopted under Rule 62-621.300(4), F.A.C., the Generic Permit for Storm Water Discharge From Large and Small Construction Activities (CGP), which is available on the Florida DEP’s website.
To obtain coverage under the CGP, the operator must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the DEP, along with the $250 permit fee for small sites or $400 for large sites. The NOI also is available via the Florida DEP’s website.
When the construction activities at the site are completed as specified in the CGP, a Notice of Termination (NOT) must be submitted to the DEP to discontinue permit coverage. The CGP requires the development and implementation of a storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP). In part, the plan must include the following:
Comprehensive Pollution Prevention
The SWPPP must ensure that sediment does not leave the site and discharges do not cause or contribute to violations of state water quality standards.
A comprehensive SWPPP includes both structural and non-structural controls for erosion and sediment as well as storm water management. Some commonly used structural controls for erosion and sediment can include the following:
Non-structural controls can include the following:
To successfully obtain coverage under the NPDES Construction Generic Permit, the following steps must be completed:
Permit coverage is granted 48 hours after the date that a completed NOI and permit fee is received by the Notices Center. Applicants will receive an acknowledgement letter granting permit coverage that includes a permit identification number. It is advisable to apply for coverage every five years if the construction activity extends beyond a five-year period, or submit a NOT to terminate coverage.
An Interactive Notice of Intent (iNOI) is available online to allow applicants to submit information electronically. Applicants who use iNOIs can complete, save, edit, pay for and submit NPDES storm water applications online. The use of iNOI is voluntary, but it will save applicants time and money.
Florida DEP’s website also provides more information on program coverage and requirements; useful links; and electronic versions of the rules, CGP, NOI, NOT and SWPPP guidance.