Changing Stormwater Regulations in Montana

Stormwater runoff is rainfall or snowmelt that flows over the ground surface that does not infiltrate into the soil. Stormwater runoff may carry pollutants that are found on the surface and discharge them into our state waters. The Montana Clean Water Act states that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is to regulate water pollution. These regulations have the potential to affect your project.

DEQ requires that if your construction project has a disturbance area greater than or equal to one acre, you need to obtain a General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activity. This permit requires you to prepare and develop a Notice of Intent (NOI) and a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan or more commonly known as a SWPPP. The SWPPP will outline how you plan on removing pollutants from stormwater before discharging it from your site.

A certified SWPPP Administrator must be identified in the SWPPP. This SWPPP Administrator will develop, implement, maintain, revise, and update the SWPPP. The SWPPP Administrator must also make on-site inspections to ensure that no pollutants get discharged from the site. DEQ outlines the SWPPP Administrator training requirements in their permit.

There are associated application fees, depending on the size of your disturbance area, when submitting your SWPPP to DEQ.  There are also annual fees if your project continues through the beginning of a new year. DEQ is releasing a new General Permit on January 1, 2018. If you have a project that continues through this date and you have an existing permit, you must resubmit it to DEQ under the new permit. The resubmittal fee is $500. That means you will need to pay $500 plus an annual fee for your project.

A new and noteworthy item that will affect the eastern and southwestern parts of Montana is that the 2018 General Permit will require you to submit a consolation letter from the DNRC Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program if your project is in sage grouse habitat. The consolation letter must be included when you submit your NOI and SWPPP. The consolation process takes approximately 45-60 days. More information on the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program can be found HERE.

It is important to understand what permits are required for your project. The General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activity has fees associated and takes preparation time and time for agency review. Plan ahead, so you don’t experience delays in your project and budget for the associated application and annual fees.

by Dominic Goble, E.I., Engineering Technician, SWPPP Administrator