In several prior posts, I have discussed the intended regulation by EPA of stormwater runoff from construction sites through the use of a numeric effluent limitation of 280 NTUs. When we last visited the topic, the National Association of Home Builders had challenged the 280 NTUs limit and, when unable to provide scientific support for the draft rule, EPA withdrew the limit. Then, in December of 2010, EPA submitted a proposed rule to revise the turbidity limit to the Office of Management and Budget.
On August 17, 2011, EPA withdrew the proposal from OMB. EPA “has decided to seek additional treatment performance data from construction and development sites before proposing a revised numeric turbidity limit.” It will be publishing a Federal Register notice soliciting data sometime in the near future.
As part of the review, I would suggest that someone needs to ask a few questions: Is the stormwater program broken? Does it really need fixing? Is an industry that accounts for less than 1% of the water quality issues in the country really worth this kind of time and effort? Are we actually going to get an improvement in water quality commensurate with the $10 billion dollar annual price tag on new construction that the limit would bring?
I’m hoping that EPA doesn't feel like it must continue down this path just because it started down this path.