On July 1, 2010, the current General Construction Permit (GCP) requirements went into affect, and they affect all of us design professionals along with our clients and contractors.  On September 2, 2009 the State Water Resources Control Board established Order No. 2009-0009-DWQ where if you have grading, street, utility, or vertical construction disturbing more than one acre, then you must obtain a GCP.

GCP requirements were first adopted in 1990 by the California State Water Board (SWB) with regulations that established one statewide GCP.  Now we all need to be aware of the required electronic filing documentation, levels of exceedence, covered projects, risk levels, onsite measurements, and potential fines. In order to quickly understand what’s new, the following GENERAL CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FAQs have been developed:

Q: What significant changes have been made to the GCP?

A: There are now three construction site Risk Levels which are determined by two main parts: 1) project sediment risk and 2) receiving water risk;

Discharge of any debris is prohibited;

Effluent monitoring and reporting for pH and turbidity in storm water discharges is required;

It includes Numerical Action Levels (NALs) for pH and turbidity;

It includes daily average Numeric Effluent Limitations (NELs) for pH during any construction phase where there is a high risk of pH discharge and for turbidity for all discharges in Risk Level 3;

Certain sites need to develop and to implement a Rain Event Action Plan (REAP) designed to protect all exposed portions of the site within 48 hours prior to any likely precipitation event;

It includes requirements for all Linear Underground/Overhead projects (LUPs) (e.g., utility lines);

Key personnel (e.g., Qualified SWPPP developers (QSD) and Qualified SWPPP practitioner (QSP)) must have specific training by August 1, 2012.

Q: What type of construction activity is subject to this GCP?

A:  Any construction or demolition activity including clearing, grubbing, grading, or excavation, or any other activity that results in a land disturbance of one acre or more.

Construction activities for LUPs including trenching, boring and drilling, access roads, pole and tower installations, stockpile/borrow locations, etc. resulting in land disturbances greater than one acre.

“Common plan of development or sale” projects are included to ensure that acreage within a common project does not artificially escape the permit requirements because construction activities are split among small parcels, phased, or completed by different owners/developers.

Q: What type of construction activity is not subject to this GCP?

A:  Routine maintenance to maintain original purpose of facility, hydraulic capacity, and line and grade;

Land surface disturbances solely caused by agricultural operations;

Tribal land construction (regulated by federal permit);

Lake Tahoe storm water discharges (has its own permit);

Construction activity disturbing less than one acre of land, unless part of a larger common development plan;

Landfill construction activity (regulated by Industrial General Permit);

LUP construction activity for routine maintenance projects within existing right-of-way or easements.  These projects include repairing leaks, updates to comply with applicable regulations, or those that maintain the original purpose or capacity.

Q: Who obtains the GCP?

A:  The Legally Responsible Person (LRP) must obtain GCP coverage, except in two limited circumstances.  First, where there is utility line construction across several properties, then the utility purveyor that owns or operates this LUP is responsible.  Second, when there is a lease of a mineral estate, then the lessee is the responsible party.

Q: How is the GCP obtained?

A:  The LRP must electronically file the Permit Registration Documents (PRDs), which includes a Notice of Intent (NOI), Risk Assessment, Site Map, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), and signed Certification Statement, and mail the appropriate permit fee to the SWB.  Please note that this information is publically available via the Internet;

Any information provided to the Regional Water Board shall comply with Homeland Security;

Responsible parties, locations, and scope of discharger’s operations must be clearly identified;

LRPs must file a Notice of Termination (NOT) with the Regional Water Board when construction is complete and final ground stabilization has been reached or ownership has been transferred.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with the proper development of a General Construction Permit, then please feel free to email or give me a call.

John M. Cruikshank, PE

jcruikshank@jmc-2.com

310-241-6550 (x228)

www.jmc-2.com

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