The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 USC 1251) (also known as the “Clean Water Act”) authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states to regulate point sources that discharge pollutants through a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, via federal regulations 40 CFR 122. The NPDES program regulates discharges from sewer systems, construction activities, industrial activities, and activities designated by the EPA because of water quality impacts. In Vermont, EPA has delegated ANR’s Water Quality Division to administer the program.
Vermont state law 10 VSA 47 (Water Pollution Control) also regulates the discharge of stormwater into wetlands and waterways. The law is administered by ANR’s Department of Environmental Conservation, Stormwater Management Program.
When It Is Required
Under the state law, a State Stormwater Permit is required when individuals intend to discharge waste into waters of the state, injection wells, or treatment works. Waters of the state include “all rivers, streams, creeks, brooks, reservoirs, ponds, lakes, springs and all bodies of surface waters, artificial or natural…” Waste, as used in the law, means “effluent, sewage or any substance or material, liquid, gaseous, solid or radioactive, including heated liquids, whether or not harmful or deleterious to waters”. The NPDES program requires permits for the discharge of pollutants from any point source and from stormwater runoff into waters of the United States (40 CFR 122.1 (b)). NPDES also regulates industrial and municipal sewer discharges, but these programs are not discussed here.
Vermont has two Administrative Rules that apply to stormwater management: Chapter 18 of ANR’s Environmental Protection Rule, the “Stormwater Management Rule”, and Chapter 22, the “Stormwater Management Rule for Stormwater Impaired Waters”. “Impairment” is determined under standards developed and mandated by the EPA. A list of Vermont’s impaired waters (“303(d) List of Waters”) can be found on the ANR website.
Under Chapter 18 a permit is required for discharges of stormwater from a development that creates impervious surfaces (including gravel and paved roads) larger than one acre. Stormwater runoff from bridge decks is exempt, as long as the deck doesn’t collect water from the bridge approaches. ANR has issued two general permits for permanent discharges to non-impaired waters: GP-9015 for new stormwater discharges, and GP 3-9010 to renew existing discharge permits. Under GP-9015, for new construction, applicants must file a Notice of Intent (NOI) with ANR, that includes plans, soils maps, USGS topo maps, and worksheets demonstrating that standards in the Vermont Stormwater Management Manual, Volume I, Stormwater Treatment Standards and Volume II, Technical Guidance are being met. The submission also includes runoff modeling that demonstrates the pre- and post-development conditions for the proposed development.
Discharges to impaired waters are covered under Chapter 22 of the Vermont Environmental Protection Rules, “Stormwater Management Rule for Stormwater Impaired Waters”. There are no General Permits for discharges to impaired waters. Applicants must file an individual permit application with ANR. Applications must include a “Sediment off-set”; essentially, improvement of water quality in the same watershed by another means, such as stream bank restoration, conversion of land use to reduce sediment load, or other measures, as listed in Chapter 22-402.
Temporary Construction Discharges
The federal NPDES program regulates stormwater runoff from construction activities. As noted earlier, EPA has designated ANR to administer the NPDES program. To facilitate NPDES compliance, ANR has issued a general permit for stormwater runoff from construction sites, GP 3-9020, which categorizes construction projects as low risk, moderate risk, or an activity requiring an individual permit based on completion of a risk evaluation that is included as an Appendix to GP 3-9020. GP 3-9020 also authorizes temporary construction discharges under NPDES. VTrans has developed a protocol for the processing of each of the different risk types.
Projects that disturb less than one acre are exempted from the need for a permit. However, VTrans policy requires that the Project Manager must also submit a site specific Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Plan (EPSC plan) VTrans Designer Checklist if the project has potential to impact water resources VTrans EPSC Protocol. VTrans Environmental Section should be consulted to see if an EPSC plan is required. If it will not be required, VTrans Environmental Specialist will draft an EPSC Plan Protocol Waiver Memo. If an EPSC plan is required, the project manager will submit an EPSC plan to the VTrans Environmental Specialist based on the guidance listed on the EPSC Plan Designer Checklist (Non-Jurisdictional and Low Risk) and the Example EPSC Plan Narrative. Upon acceptance, the Environmental Specialist will draft the EPSC Plan – Less Than One Acre Acceptance Memo, which is included with the Contract Plans.
Low risk activities must submit an NOI and apply DEC’s “Low Risk Handbook for Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control” during construction. VTrans projects must also submit an EPSC plan based on the guidance listed on the EPSC Plan Designer Checklist (Non-Jurisdictional and Low Risk) and the Example EPSC Plan Narrative.
Moderate risk activities must submit an NOI, an EPSC plan, a Risk Evaluation, and EPSC Summary Forms.
Individual permit applicants file an NOI, an EPSC plan, a Risk Evaluation, and EPSC Summary Forms. Consultation with ANR is mandatory.
For low-risk, moderate risk, and Individual Permits, VTrans submits the NOI and attached materials to ANR. Moderate risk activity permits have a 10 day comment period, and individual permits have a 30-day comment period with an additional 30-day appeals period.
Regulatory programs with overlapping jurisdiction with Vermont Stormwater Management Program include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
Section 401 Water Quality Certification: is required for projects requiring a Federal permit which involve discharges to water bodies or wetlands. Section 401 is administered by ANR, and requires a separate permit application with plans and details. Certification is usually issued in conjunction with either a State Wetlands Permit or a Stream Alteration Permit (Title 19).
For More Information
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources DEC
Watershed Management Division
1 National Life Drive, Main 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3522
VTrans has technical staff within its Operations Division that manages stormwater compliance for transportation projects.
Operations Stormwater Coordinator
Stormwater Compliance and Management Program
One National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05633-5001
See the ANR Stormwater website at http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/stormwater.htm for information on the following:
ANR Stormwater Reviewer Districts
List of impaired waters
Stormwater Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)
Vermont Stormwater Manual
Interactive Stormwater Permit Database
NPDES Construction Site Stormwater Permits
Multi-Sector General Permit