EPA Storm-Water Management's Unsettled Waterscomments (1) August 24th, 2011 in Blogs
Part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate is to curb pollution of the nation’s waterways. It is a big job, although until recently the agency focused mostly on reducing pollution from industrial facilities. Left untended were pollutants from so-called “nonpoint” sources – farms, parking lots, roads, and construction sites.
The problem is, nonpoint pollution problems have grown to a troubling scale and the EPA still hasn’t come up with a suitable remedy. In December 2009, the agency presented a proposal for addressing pollutant runoff from construction sites of 10 acres or more. The aim of the regulation was to create monitoring standards and establish limits on runoff “turbidity” – a measure of how much sediment or other particles are suspended in water. The National Association of Home Builders challenged the data the EPA used to set turbidity limits, and the agency, conceding a miscalculation, issued a revised set of rules in December 2010.
Amid further objections from NAHB, the December 2010 revision was withdrawn by the EPA earlier this month, and the agency is now revising the revision.
Maybe the third time will be the charm. As noted in a recent Greenwire article published by the New York Times, NAHB is urging the agency to gather turbidity data from a large sample of construction sites that are using “passive” runoff treatments methods using membranes and liners to trap sediment, a process the association favors over more-expensive alternatives that require pumps, filtration systems, and chemical treatment.
"In its calculations, the EPA relied on questionable data, including figures obtained from the vendors that would have supplied the expensive systems home builders would have been required to use. That's no way to come up with national policy," NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement.
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