New NYSDEC Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Industrial Activity Takes Effect

By Sahana Rao

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has finalized the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Industrial Activity (MSGP), which will take effect on March 1, 2018. Coverage under the MSGP may be obtained by applicants whose facilities conduct any of the industrial activities listed in the permit, which activities result in the discharge of stormwater to State surface waters. While much of the permit’s prior iteration has been retained, the new MSGP implements several changes.

Changes in Scope

Ineligibility criteria under the State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA) have been removed from the final MSGP, based on a letter of “no impact” issued by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. MSGP facility activities that may disturb properties regulated under the SHPA are expected to receive SHPA review in the context of other applicable NYSDEC permits.

In addition, the updated non-numeric effluent limits in this MSGP now include requirements for minimizing exposure, good housekeeping, maintenance, spill prevention/response procedures, and employee training; associated SWPP documentation requirements have also been updated accordingly. These updates encompass several sector-specific changes adding or clarifying best management practices.

Sector-specific changes also include the removal of Sectors AD and AE from the general permit. NYSDEC previously used these generic sectors to provide general permit coverage to facilities that needed SPDES permit coverage for stormwater discharges, but were not engaged in any of the industrial activities to which the MSGP explicitly applies. However, NYSDEC will now require these facilities to obtain individual permits (if permit coverage is required), which is more consistent with the customized analysis that was inevitably required for these facilities under the MSGP.

Changes to Forms, Monitoring and Reporting Requirements

Discharge Monitoring Reports must now be reported electronically through EPA’s system, NetDMR. Electronic filing of the Notice of Intent (NOI) and Annual Certification Report is currently optional, but will become mandatory on December 21, 2020. However, changes or updates to facility information must now be made directly on the NOI rather than through the bygone Notice of Modification form. This should encourage electronic submission of NOIs, as changes can merely be inserted into the existing online form. If the initial NOI was submitted on paper, a new NOI (either paper or electronic) reflecting the changes must be submitted.

With respect to monitoring, if a facility’s coverage under the MSGP takes effect less than two months (previously just one month) before a monitoring period ends, monitoring for that facility will begin in the next period. Once the monitoring period kicks in, submission of Discharge Monitoring Reports must take place twice per year, instead of just once per year under the previous MSGP. In addition, owners and operators with at least one stormwater discharge from industrial activity to a small municipal stormwater sewer system (MS4) must submit an Annual Certification Report or Discharge Monitoring Report to the MS4 Operator if the MS4 requests it.

There are other changes as well, and how NYSDEC will administer this new version of the MSGP remains to be seen. For further information about this updated MSGP, or other stormwater-related questions, please contact Michael Bogin.