Department of Ecology's Construction Stormwater General Permit Appealed by Several Industry Organizations

Published Jan 22, 2016
Water Quality, Environmental Enforcement

The Department of Ecology issued a new Construction Stormwater General Permit, which became effective on January 1st of this year. The permit now faces an appeal by several construction-industry groups, including Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association, Associated General Contractors Inland Northwest, Building Industry Association of Washington and Associated Builders and Contractors. The appeal to the Pollution Control Hearings Board was filed by James Tupper of Tupper Mack Wells.

The basis for the appeal includes the issuance of conditions that are unreasonable and contrary to established construction practices. These new conditions are in several instances vague and contradictory and have been adopted by Ecology with insufficient information and basis. Compliance with these conditions will unreasonably add to the cost of construction and in some instances may not be reasonably attainable.

Among the problems with the permit cited in the appeal are:

  • It unreasonably adds application requirements for “contaminated” soils and groundwater. The permit requires a vague list of examples of the type of information that must be provided to the department regarding circumstances where the applicant is “aware” of contaminated soils and groundwater. The CSGP does not define the basis for such knowledge or the extent to which an applicant must conduct a site assessment to develop such information. The request for detailed information on how such contamination will be managed in an application conflicts with existing regulations for management of solid waste, hazardous waste and other regulations. It is unreasonable for the Ecology Water Quality Program to overlap these programs with vague and as yet undetermined obligations for compliance.
  • It restricts the washout of concrete trucks or concrete-handling equipment to offsite locations or dedicated washout areas, which is unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious. Concrete washout has been allowed by Ecology onto ground in areas that are formed and set to receive concrete paving within a short period of time, typically one to two days. This practice, which is specifically described in BMP C154 of the 2012 Western Washington Stormwater Management Manual, is a critical function on job sites that typically involves a small amount of water. The ability to use formed and contained areas set up for additional concrete pours is critical to construction activities and has no potential impact on water quality.
  • It unreasonably requires pH sampling if any amount of recycled concrete or engineered soils is used on a site of one acre or more in size. It is unreasonable to require such monitoring without a threshold for the volume of material that triggers sampling requirements. It sets a minimum threshold for “significant” concrete work of 1,000 cubic yards poured over the life of a project. There is no basis for requiring pH monitoring for recycled or engineered soils unless the use of materials is deemed significant.

For more information, contact James Tupper at