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Deadline Looming: The Public Comment Period on DEQ's New Industrial Stormwater Permits Ends Soon

June 3, 2011


After several years of negotiations and drafting, DEQ has released for public comment revised industrial stormwater permits, the 1200-COLS (for discharges to the Columbia Slough) and the 1200-Z (for all other industrial stormwater discharges throughout the state) permits. Examples of industrial activities that require a permit include manufacturing, transportation, mining, and steam electric power industries, as well as scrap yards, landfills, certain sewage treatment plants, and hazardous waste management facilities. DEQ is proposing several significant changes, which will impact a large number of industrial facilities state wide.

Important changes include:

• significantly lower benchmarks for metals;
• a greater number of pollutants for which facilities must conduct monitoring;
• changes in the method facilities must use to collect stormwater samples; and
• a requirement that the selection of control measures be certified by a professional engineer or registered geologist.

As currently drafted, the new permits will likely require many facilities to increase the amount of time and money they spend on stormwater monitoring and management. Many facilities will likely need to make capital improvements by installing control technologies in order to meet the drastically reduced metals benchmarks.

The draft permits also lack what is called a "permit shield." The inclusion of a "permit shield" would protect permit holders from being found in violation of the permit when they are complying with their DEQ-approved stormwater plan. Permit shields work as defense against both agency enforcement actions as well as citizen suits. DEQ is specifically requesting feedback on whether or not to include such a "permit shield."

The last day to submit public comments on the draft permits is Thursday, June 16, 2011. The draft permits can be found on DEQ's website. DEQ will consider all comments submitted during the public comment period and can make important changes to the permits based on the feedback it receives.

For further information or for assistance answering a particular question regarding DEQ's new draft industrial stormwater permits, contact the Schwabe attorney with whom you work or Samantha Lebeda Gamboa from Schwabe's Environmental Group at 503-796-3746, or