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EPA Schedules NACo Conference Call on Stormwater Run-off from Logging Roads

Posted Date: 
June 14, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently that is considering changes to current stormwater regulations so state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are not required for stormwater discharges from forest roads. At the same time, the EPA is requesting information on voluntary best management practices for addressing stormwater runoff from logging/forest roads. The EPA is accepting comments on their proposal until June 22.

To explain their proposal, the EPA agreed to have a conference call with NACo members. This is scheduled for June 18 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The call in information is as follows:

Dial-in:  877-290-8017
Conference ID:  89752665

The Notice of Intent published in the Federal Register states: "propose revisions to its Phase I stormwater regulations to specify that stormwater discharges from logging roads are not stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity." According to the Notice, Section 402(p) of the Clean Water Act allows the EPA to assess what forest roads (if any) should be regulated.

For the past couple of decades, forest and logging roads have been exempt from 402 permitting requirements under EPA's Silvicultural activities rule. However, this long-standing determination was thrown on its head after the Ninth Circuit court said in Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) v. Brown that logging road culverts and ditches that discharge to a "water of the U.S." are point sources "associated with industrial activity" and should be regulated under the NPDES permit program. Some of the roads in question in NEDC v. Brown were, in fact, county-owned roads, used for other purposes other than logging.