The Rules are Changing
The original EPA stormwater regulations (referred to as Phase
I ) went into effect in 1990. These rules required certain types of industrial
facilities to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) permit for their stormwater discharge. Operators of one of those
types of facilities (category 11 - "light
industry") were exempted from the permit requirement provided their
industrial materials or activities were not "exposed" to stormwater. The
1990 stormwater regulations allowed painting facilities (and other
facilities categorized as "light industry") to make their own
determination of whether or not there was exposure of industrial materials
to stormwater. If not, there was no need to submit a permit application.
Those painters who do have "exposure" to stormwater should have applied for a
permit and should currently be abiding by its requirements. But many
-- probably most -- painters have either determined that they do
not have stormwater exposure, or have remained unaware of the regulation.
This situation is changing. Revised stormwater regulations, referred
to as Phase
II Stormwater rules, were published by EPA in 1999. The Phase II rules have changed the "no exposure"
option. Now, all painting facilities (except those located in
specified arid areas) must either:
- have an NPDES stormwater permit, or
- submit a written certification to their NPDES permitting authority
once every five years indicating that the facility meets the definition
of "no exposure".
In other words, if you determine that you have no exposure, it is no
longer sufficient simply to take no further action. You are now
required to document your determination in writing.
If you do not meet the definition of "no exposure", and if you do not
have a stormwater permit, you are currently out of compliance.
The purpose of this Paint Center feature is twofold:
- to alert painters about the Phase II requirements for written
- for companies that are currently out of compliance, to offer
guidance on how to get into compliance
Who is the NPDES Stormwater Regulatory Authority?
Throughout most of the nation, EPA has delegated the stormwater program
to the states to administer as they see fit, so long as minimum federal
requirements are met. Therefore, in most states you will submit your no
exposure certification or permit application to your state environmental
However, some states may not yet have the authority to administer
this program. For the following states, you may need to submit your
certification or permit application to your Regional EPA office: Alaska,
Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire Texas, Florida, Maine, and Arizona. If
your facility is in one of these states, we suggest contacting both your
Regional EPA office and state agency to find out where to submit your
You should also know that the administration of the Phase II rules and
in particular, the revised "no exposure" exemption, is still unsettled
within many states. For example, your state may or may not have set a due
date for submitting a Phase II certification. To help you find the latest
state information, the Paint Center maintains a Stormwater Resource Locator (SWRL).
Use the SWRL to find information, permit forms, resources, and state
agency contact information for your state.
What is the Regulatory Definition of "No Exposure"?
"No exposure" means all industrial materials and activities are protected
by a storm resistant shelter to prevent exposure to rain, snow, snowmelt,
"Industrial materials or activities" include, but are not
- material handling equipment or activities
- raw materials, intermediate products, by-products, final
products, or waste products.
EPA has prepared a useful document to explain
this rule: Storm Water
Phase II Final Rule, Conditional No Exposure Exclusion for Industrial
How to Determine if You Meet the "No Exposure" Definition
Your state environmental regulatory agency may provide guidance on
determining if you meet the "no exposure" definition. Use the Paint Center's Stormwater Resource Locator
(SWRL) to find information about your state program.
EPA published a four-page No Exposure
Certification form that uses a series of yes/no questions to aid
facility operators in determining whether they have a condition of no
exposure. In some states, this form has been adopted and it may also
serves as the necessary certification of no exposure (provided the
operator is able to answer all of the questions in the negative). Most
states have published their own "no exposure" form. Use the SWRL to find the form that should
be used in your state.
Submitting Your Written Certification of "No Exposure" --- Where and
The written certification of "no exposure" should be
submitted to your NPDES authority, which can be either your state agency or
the EPA Regional
office in your region, as discussed above.
recommend that you contact your NPDES authority to determine when
the certification is due. The Phase II rule did not specify a due date.
Some states have adopted a March 10, 2003 due date, which
correlates with other due dates found in the Phase II rules.
However, in some
states, the certification may already be past due. Use our SWRL feature to track down this
information for your state, and to find contact information.
How to Apply for a NPDES Industrial Stormwater Permit
If your facility does not meet the definition of "no exposure," then
you need a stormwater discharge permit. There are two types of NPDES
industrial storm water permits: general and individual permits. In either
case, you apply for coverage to your NPDES stormwater control authority.
As discussed above, for most states this is your environmental regulatory agency. For
certain states this is your Regional EPA office.
- General Permits. Most industrial facilities have permit
coverage under a statewide general permit that covers stormwater
discharges from industrial facilities within the state. To obtain
coverage under a statewide permit, you must submit a Notice of Intent
(NOI) to your state agency (or EPA Regional office if you are in an
unauthorized state). Most state general permits have similar
requirements, such as:
- You must develop and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention
Plan (SWPPP), which specifies Best Management Practices (BMPs) that
will prevent all pollutants from contacting stormwater.
- Perform regular inspections to insure your compliance with all BMPs.
- Individual Permits. There are certain circumstances where a
general permit is either not available or not applicable to a specific
facility. In this type of situation, a facility operator must obtain
coverage under an individual permit that the NPDES permitting authority
will develop with requirements specific to the facility. This is an
involved process and you should contact your state water pollution
control agency for advice.