Georgia NPDES Storm Water Permits Are Expiring

The Georgia 2006-2011 NPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity, Permit No. GAR000000, will expire on July 31, 2011.   A draft of this permit is not yet available so we are not able to comment on any changes that might be in the works.   

When the previous permit expired, there was considerable lag time before a new permit was issued.  Don’t look for this to happen again.  A new permit is expected sometime in August.  As always, when a permit expires, permit holders continue to be covered until a new permit is issued.  Permit holders should keep up to date on the issuance of the new permit as there is generally only a 30 to 90 day period in which a new permit can be obtained and still remain in compliance.

If you have too much on your plate, DES can handle the process for you including filing a new Notice of Intent, reviewing your Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan to see if changes must be made to comply with the new permit conditions, and assessing your site.   If certain conditions are met, a facility can apply for the “No Exposure” certification which exempts the facility from certain sampling or reporting requirements.

Don’t wait until the deadline is upon you.  Call or e-mail Jeret Elwell, our storm water expert at DES Consultants, to find out how DES can help you.  He is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) and a Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality (CPSWQ).  Jeret also teaches storm water and erosion control training classes at our DES Training Center or at your location.  His contact information and class schedule is posted on the training section of this website.

Benefits of Staying Environmentally Compliant

Environmental compliance is in the news every day.  Which kind of publicity would you prefer for your business?

The following company received one of the EPA Environmental Quality Awards in 2009.

Toyota Motor Sales/Ryan McMullan
Torrance, California

The associates of Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, Calif. have focused their efforts on eliminating waste. Through these efforts, Toyota’s vehicle distribution centers send less than four ounces of waste to the landfill for each vehicle processed, and its parts operations saved 17.6 million pounds of wood and cardboard in 2008. This work has had regional and national impacts — with the company’s headquarters and nine facilities achieving zero waste to landfill, ten plants achieving 95 percent waste reduction, and 12 distribution centers achieving over 90 percent recycling rates. These efforts have saved more than 110,000 trees and conserved the equivalent of 1.6 million gallons of gas through recycling materials. Ryan McMullan, an Environmental Resource Specialist with Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, has led Toyota’s efforts to eliminate waste. He is a key regional environmental leader who has played a critical role in Toyota’s efforts to improve the environment, set aggressive goals, and educate the public and others in the business community.

Last week this company was fined for environmental violations.  It was one of many over the last year.

Usibelli Coal Mine, near Healy, Alaska, agrees to pay $60,000 EPA penalty for Clean Water Act violations

According to documents associated with the case, the Mine had 11 unpermitted discharges into the Nenana River, Hoseanna Creek, Sanderson Creek, and Francis Creek between April 2007 and July 2010. During that time, they also had 10 violations of their discharge permit limits.

According to Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Regional Office of Compliance and Enforcement, mining responsibly means paying attention and looking ahead to prevent future problems.

“Many of these discharges could have been minimized or avoided,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “By simply using and maintaining best management practices, we believe this penalty could have been avoided. Mining responsibly means making water quality protection a top priority.”

Sanderson Creek, Hoseanna Creek, Francis Creek, and nearby gravel ponds are all classified by the State of Alaska as suitable for use as water supply, water recreation, and growth and propagation of fish, shellfish, other aquatic life, and wildlife.

Usibelli has 30 days from the signature date to pay the fine and settle the case.

Noncompliance is usually more likely to receive publicity than compliance.  Staying environmentally compliant may not get you publicity, but lack of publicity is better than bad publicity. If you don’t know the environmental rules that govern your business, hiring an environmental consultant is the best and most cost effective way to avoid bad publicity.  Don’t wait till you’re in the bad news section of the paper to ask for help!

The Long Reach of the EPA

I continue to be amazed at the things EPA gets involved in.  The Mission Statement of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment.  It further contains seven bullet points that expand on this statement and a list of six things  that the EPA does to accomplish this including regulation, grants, research and education.  To see exactly how long the EPA’s reach is, one only has to enter the EPA web site on the internet.

The EPA web site went through a major redesign in 2005 when it was changed from an office based organization to a subject based organization.  According to Rebecca Hedreen, who attended a workshop on the redesign and posted a blog on the subject; at that time the EPA web site contained over 1 million HTML and PDF files, all fully searchable.  I could not find current statistics but I would not be surprised to find that there are ten times that many files today.  It is also interesting to note that there are links on the EPA home page for versions in Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Of course there are mobile apps and social media links as well.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has her own Facebook page and her own web site within the EPA website which detail her extensive travels.  She made a trip to China in October “to strengthen US-China relations and explore new avenues of cooperation in environmental protection. On Sunday, October 10, she met with the head of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, Minister Zhou Shengxian. The meeting came as China and the U.S. celebrate 30 years of partnership under their first environmental protocol. During their meeting, Administrator Jackson and Minister Zhou signed a Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming their historic alliance.”  See the EPA web page Strengthening US-China Relations to Better Protect the Global Environment for more information.

Another example of EPA’s long reach is the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves This public-private alliance was announced in September by EPA Administrator Jackson and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It “addresses one of the greatest threats facing developing countries and their populations — extraordinarily high exposures to toxic smoke from indoor fires and inefficient cookstoves that lead to nearly 2 million deaths each year, primarily in young children and women. The U.S. government pledged $53.32 million over the next five years to support the initiative, with EPA contributing $6 million.  “The alliance’s goal is to create the market and distribution conditions necessary for 100 million households to adopt clean cookstoves by 2020.”  This is in countries where people rely on indoor fires and inefficient cookstoves to prepare daily meals, causing severe health, economic, and environmental consequences.

The last example I will give would be laughable if it were not developing into such a serious problem in the northeast region of the United States.  To help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem, the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup is convening a second national summit set for February 1-2, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The summit is open to the public and will focus on ways the federal government and others can continue to work together on management and control of these pests. The first federal bed bug summit was held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2009. Since then, EPA has helped organize the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup, which consists of EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.  Information on how to prevent bedbugs can be found on EPA’s website.

If you would like to know more about the long reach of the EPA, start at the EPA Home Page and wind your way through the millions of files available for public perusal.  You will quickly see where a portion of your tax dollars are spent.  Please comment on what you find.

Clean Water Continues to Be a Focus Point at EPA

The folks at the EPA are serious about enacting new legislation and enforcement relating to water pollution.  They are asking for input from water professionals around the country.  This is a chance for those who want things done right to have an impact on future regulation.  Clean water is an important issue, but it can be achieved without adding to the level of bureaucracy already in place.  See the link in the article below to join the discussion.

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