MPCA permit governing runoff from construction sites has new benefits for permittees

Contact: Mary Connor, 651-757-2629

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has released its proposed new general permit for construction stormwater. The existing permit is set to expire in August, and the proposed permit features some added flexibility and reduced waiting periods that will benefit permitted contractors.

When rain and snow-melt drain off a construction site, they carry sediment and other pollutants that can harm lakes, streams, and wetlands. To protect Minnesota waters, the MPCA issues permits to construction-site owners and operators to prevent stormwater pollution during and after construction. A general permit covers multiple entities with similar operations and types of water-quality protection concerns. When general permits are a feasible option, issuing them allows for faster and more efficient permitting compared to issuing individual permits.

The MPCA’s proposed new general construction stormwater permit varies from the current permit is several ways. For example:

  • Shorter waiting periods for permit coverage — The new general permit eliminates a mandatory seven-day waiting period before issuing coverage. Construction projects get permit coverage sooner and avoid delays.
  • New flexibility in stormwater-control practices — Construction managers will have more options for stabilizing soil in ditches and swales, and fewer constraints on how quickly they must replace non-functional stormwater control measures.
  • New organization and streamlining — The new permit has been reorganized to be more user-friendly, requirements have been clarified, and the permit has been streamlined.

“In the past five years, our use of online and electronic services has expanded allowing us to shorten waiting periods for construction stormwater permits and give construction projects the go-ahead faster,” says MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine. “We want to make it easier for site owners and managers to follow the rules; that’s better for clean water and efficient government.”

The proposed general permit is now available on the MPCA's Stormwater Manual website and open for public comment until 4:30 p.m. on May 23, 2018. A public informational meeting was held on April 17, 2018 where MPCA staff presented the proposed changes to the permit.