NAHB and UWAG have been involved in EPA's efforts to develop controls for construction and development-industry stormwater discharge for more than 15 years. For the homebuilders, the focus was on the impracticality of meeting a federally mandated numeric limit across all construction sites nationwide.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Utility Water Act Group (UWAG) and Wisconsin Builders Association settled a longstanding lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the agency agreed to withdraw a numeric limit developed to control stormwater runoff from construction sites and to pursue additional improvements to the original 2009 rule.
The lawsuit noted that the EPA's numeric limit would have cost stakeholders up to $10 billion a year in attempts to comply -- and that coming up with a number that would work across all geographic areas and soil types would be impossible.
"[The NAHB is] relieved that the agency is taking a common-sense approach to this rulemaking," said NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg. "We will continue to work with state and federal regulators to keep our waterways clean."
In addition to withdrawing the numeric limits, EPA has agreed to clarify the non-numeric portion of the rule so that land developers, permit writers and inspectors better understand what measures are required to help protect the nation's waterways.
In December 2009, under court order, the agency finalized Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs) for the construction and development industry to establish the minimum technology required to control the impact of stormwater runoff. EPA established both numeric limits and best management practices, such as silt fences, for certain active construction sites.
NAHB, UWAG and the Wisconsin builders challenged the rule shortly after it was issued. Pursuant to the parties' settlement agreement, EPA has agreed to sign a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its 2009 rule by April 15 and agreed to take final action on the proposed rule by Feb. 28, 2014.