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The United States
Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, issued final rules to help reduce
water pollution from construction sites. The new regulation, which takes effect
in February 2010, and will be phased in over four years, will significantly
improve the quality of water across the United States.
Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly
disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily
be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby bodies.
Pollutants discharged from construction sites include sediment, turbidity and
nutrients. All of these pollutants are important contributors to water quality
impairment. Sediment, turbidity, and nutrients degrade aquatic ecosystem
health, drinking water supplies, and surface water clarity. Sediment deposition
reduces water depth in lakes, reservoirs, and navigational channels, increasing
the need for dredging.
The EPA final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb
one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure that soil
disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby water bodies. In
addition, owners and operators of sites that impact ten or more acres will be
required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on
discharges to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies. This is the first
time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable
numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.
Soil and sediment runoff is one the leading causes of water quality problems in
the United States and is a problem in many other countries, especially in the
For its part, the United States is committed to taking action to reduce water
pollution and improving water quality.