Stormwater Discharge Efforts Underway in NC
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the City of Charlotte Land Development Division, and the Mecklenburg County Water Quality Program coordinated compliance and enforcement actions to address violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) associated with the improper handling of stormwater discharge at construction sites near Charlotte, N.C.
Inspections were performed this summer at construction sites that exceeded five acres of disturbed land throughout Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Each site was evaluated based upon compliance with the DENR General Permit to Discharge Stormwater under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. EPA's role was to evaluate the facilities' impact on the receiving streams and their compliance with stormwater regulations and the CWA.
As a part of this effort, EPA, in cooperation with DENR, has issued Notices of Violation (NOVs), and Administrative Orders (AOs) and has requested that seven facilities attend show cause hearings to discuss their violations and the assessment of administrative penalties.
NOVs are warning letters which require the facility to remediate certain aspects of the site. The AOs require each facility to comply with the stormwater regulations by setting forth a schedule for compliance. Administrative Penalty Orders (APOs) which are administrative penalty assessments under the CWA may be developed for many of these facilities following their show cause hearing with EPA. The CWA allows for civil penalty assessments of up to $27,500 per day.
Stormwater runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality which contributes sediment and other pollutants exposed at construction sites. Polluted stormwater runoff is a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of surveyed U.S. water bodies which do not meet water quality standards.
Over land or via storm sewer systems, polluted runoff is discharged, often untreated, directly into local water bodies. When left uncontrolled, this water pollution can result in the destruction of fish, wildlife, and aquatic life habitats; a loss in aesthetic value; and threats to public health due to contaminated food, drinking water supplies, and recreational waterways.
Mandated by Congress under the Clean Water Act, the NPDES Stormwater Program is a comprehensive two-phased national program for addressing the non-agricultural sources of stormwater discharges which adversely affect the quality of our nation's waters.
The Program uses the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting mechanism to require the implementation of controls designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by stormwater runoff into local water bodies.