Stormwater is rain and snow melt that runs off the land and enters streams, rivers, and lakes. Runoff from outdoor activities or material storage areas can contain pollutants that can degrade water quality and threaten human health. Proper stormwater management minimizes these threats for businesses in Cleveland, Ohio and throughout the USA.
Although some companies are either unaware of their obligations related to their industrial stormwater discharges (or choose to ignore them), many businesses are subject to Ohio EPA’s stormwater permitting program based on their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. This includes manufacturing, transportation, recycling businesses, wineries, compost/mulch sites, concrete producers, scrapyards and woodworking/lumber operations. Both site-specific and general industrial stormwater discharge permits outline the terms and conditions for sampling & analysis, monitoring outfalls, record keeping, discharge limits, and training which must be met. These can be costly and time-consuming to schedule and maintain properly which makes a No Exposure status so appealing. So, if my company is a regulated businesses which must either apply for an industrial stormwater discharge permit or submit a no-exposure certification (NOEC), what changes can be made that may make my company eligible for the NOEC? Due to the complexity of these EPA regulations, the best first recommendation is to contact an expert like CTI to help you sort out your stormwater runoff options. CTI will verify your operations are subject to Ohio’s stormwater rules and carefully review a no-exposure certification checklist covering your facility and all operations, including material deliveries and shipments, waste management, unused, in-stock materials stored onsite and operations that occur infrequently. For example, are bulk materials (not in a sealed container) stored, unloaded or loaded outdoors? Are there quick-connect pipes on the outside of your building? Is there a truck loading area under an elevated hopper that is not enclosed? Do you have a fueling area? These areas can disqualify your facility from the NOEC.
But, it’s not hopeless yet. Can facility modifications make your facility compliant? Often small changes can allow a facility to qualify for a NOEC. For example:
- Can unused legacy materials be removed?
- Can an unenclosed area be enclosed?
- Can exposed areas be roofed or containerized to keep them out of the rain?
However, also keep in mind that introducing processes or procedures at your facility may require that you reevaluate to see if the changes will cause industrial materials or activities to be exposed to stormwater. If conditions change and you can no longer claim the no exposure exemption, you will need to submit the appropriate permit application for stormwater discharge.
In summary, remember these fast facts:
- Qualifying for an industrial stormwater NOEC can save your business money.
- If your business has specific SIC codes that fall under the stormwater permitting program, you need a permit or a NOEC.
- Don’t forget to evaluate all outdoor activities, including infrequent operations like bulk material delivery or shipment and legacy materials.
- Small changes, such as roofing or enclosing some outdoor areas might make your facility eligible for the NOEC.
- Operational changes can invalidate your NOEC. If practices change, make sure to re-evaluate whether you still qualify for a no exposure exemption.
- U.S. EPA’s No Exposure Certification fact sheet and No Exposure Certification guidance document are helpful resources to help you determine if you can qualify for the exemption.