August Mack Newsletter | July, 2019

Are We There Yet? Chesapeake Bay Restoration Could Lead to More Stormwater Permit Changes in Pennsylvania
by Katie Childs

It all started in 1972.  The Clean Water Act was passed giving the EPA the ability to restore and maintain the waterways in the United States.  Fast forward a few years to 1983 when the US EPA signed the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement with Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia to begin the process of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.  Since that time, there have been multiple agreements which have included other states and timelines for developing initiatives to curb the pollution going to the bay.

Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River is the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay which means 43 counties would need to be a part of the corrective actions to rectify the pollutants being discharged to the watershed.  Some argue that implementation of restoration efforts have been too slow, others are asking where the money is going to come from to make all these changes.  The most recent notable change for industrial facilities was the rolling out of the 2016 General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity (PAG-03) adding sampling for all appendices and benchmark values for pollutants being discharged offsite through stormwater. 

Pennsylvania is required to clean up the bay just like the other states that are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  The EPA has assigned pollution reduction goals that must be obtained by 2025 or federal enforcement and compliance oversight will increase on Commonwealth entities.  This could include requiring Clean Water Act permits for industrial sources which could have stricter limits for discharges. These pollution reduction goals include a reduction in phosphorus, nitrogen and sediments. 

In April 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) released Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan as a draft for public comment.  Public comment for this draft has since closed (as of June 2019), but some of the items discussed in this document for industrial facilities included developing PADEP-preferred best management practices for industrial permittees to reduce pollutants being discharged.

So what does this mean for you at your facility?  The 2016 PAG-03 General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity is up for renewal in 2021 (this permit runs on a 5-year cycle).  This could mean new best management practices or more benchmark limits.    Possible best management practices EPA has recommended can be found on the EPA website under the Stormwater Discharges from Industrial Activities and Fact Sheets and Guidance.  For those industrial facilities within city limits, there may be stormwater taxes already implemented or soon to be implemented as they are trying to cover the cost of the improvements that need to be made to the stormwater sewer systems and treatment systems.

If you are finding that you are spinning your wheels with your stormwater sampling results or Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) under the 2016 permit, it may be time to take a fresh look at your outfalls.  Are the outfalls you noted in your permit 20 years ago truly outfalls? We have been finding that many companies did not previously put thought into their outfall locations prior to 2016 as many appendices only required inspections of the outfalls, not actual sampling.  The location and number of outfalls can become a big deal when you start sampling.  For instance, how and where you are sampling from may need to be investigated further.  August Mack has been recommending that facilities install outfall location signs up around their facilities so samples are taken from the same location.  Most importantly, watch for when the PADEP issues a draft of the new General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity.  This way you can provide comments to the PADEP or better prepare for when the new permit is rolled out.

Katie Childs is a Compliance Manager at August Mack Environmental, Inc. in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania office. She is experienced in environmental compliance assistance, including NPDES storm water and waste water permitting, auditing, Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency (PPC) Plans, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans, air permitting, hazardous waste and residual waste reporting, SARA 313 (Form R) reporting, SARA 312 (Tier II) reporting and industrial hygiene sampling and reporting. Katie earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Alfred University. Katie can be reached at 717.399.9587 ext. 231 or via email at

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