Construction Permit

General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity

Who Must Apply?

An owner or operator of construction activities disturbing one or more acres of soil must obtain coverage under the State Pollutant Discharges Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity prior to breaking ground. This permit coverage is required whether or not the construction takes place within a regulated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4).

What Counts As Soil Disturbance?

Clearing, grading, grubbing, excavating, or stockpiling fill material. Recently some developers have tried to claim that they are involved in forestry or agricultural activities to avoid obtaining a permit. Owners/Operators are advised that they must be able to demonstrate that they have a forestry management plan or are actively involved in farming activities. Some MS4s may have codes which prevent the development of farmland for several years following clearance.

Do I Need A Permit If I Phase A Project And Disturb Less Than One Acre At A Time?

The one acre of soil disturbance is a cumulative threshold; if construction activity disturbs less than an acre but is part of a common development plan that will cumulatively disturb one acre or more, a construction permit is required for the entire development. It should be noted that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) may also require a permit for construction activities disturbing less than one acre based upon the potential risk for the site to contribute to a violation of a water quality standard or for significant contribution of pollutants to the waters of the United States.

How Do I Obtain Coverage?

To obtain coverage, an owner or operator of a proposed construction activity that is subject to the requirements of a regulated MS4 must develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) in accordance with the construction permit requirements. The SWPPP must be submitted to the regulated MS4 for review. Once the MS4 approves the SWPPP, they will issue a SWPPP Acceptance Form. The owner or operator should submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) and the signed SWPPP Acceptance Form to DEC for permit coverage. If the proposed construction activity will occur outside of a regulated MS4, the owner or operator must submit a SWPPP and NOI directly to DEC for permit coverage.

What Is A Stormwater Management Pollution Prevention Plan?

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) are site specific plans that detail the structural and non-structural methods that will be used to prevent erosion and sediment runoff from the site. Depending upon the project, the owner or operator may be required to submit a more extensive “Full SWPPP ” which requires the identification of potential sources of pollutants which might reasonably affect the quality of stormwater discharges and the post-construction stormwater management practices (SMPs) that will be used and/or constructed to reduce those pollutants in stormwater discharges. SWPPPs must also address controls for water volume and peak rate of runoff. The New York State Design Manual provides the technical standards for the design of SMPs. Any project that has not received SWPPP acceptance prior to March 1, 2011 will be required to use the new design standards in the 2010 edition of the New York State Design Manual. The New York State Standards for Erosion and Sediment Control (The Blue Book) and the “NOI Instruction Manual” provide additional information on SWPPP requirements.

How Long Does It Take To Obtain Coverage?

Coverage may normally be obtained within 5 business days if the owner/operator indicates that it conforms to the Blue Book standards and the New York State Design Manual. SWPPPs which do not conform to the standards may take 60 business days. Owners/Operators are advised to start developing a SWPPP early in the design process to reduce delays.

Owner/Operator Responsibilities During Construction

Once the project commences, the owner/operator is required to follow the erosion and sediment control plan outlined in the SWPPP. The SWPPP may be adjusted if the plan proves ineffective at minimizing pollutants discharged from the site; the design of controls changes; or there is a change made after an inspection uncovers a deficiency.

Trained Contractor Requirements

At least one trained contractor must be on site on a daily basis when soil disturbance activities are being performed. To be a trained contractor, the individual must, at a minimum, attend a DEC endorsed 4 hour contractor training class in erosion and sediment control. Class graduates will receive a certification card. Training certificates are good for three years. The 1 day CPESC Exam Review Course may be substituted for the 4 hour E&SC course, but eligibility requirements may apply.

Site Inspections

The Owner/Operator must ensure that regular site inspections are performed by either a Licensed Professional Engineer (LPE), a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC), a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA), or someone with a DEC endorsed 4 hour Erosion and Sediment Control training who is under the supervision of a LPE or RLA. The frequency of inspections depends upon the project phase and the site size.