Hundreds of Stormwater Discharges Are Getting These Penalty Letters with Settlement Offers.
Background: From Y2015 to Y2020, the Industrial General Permit (IGP) had only Numeric Action Levels (NALs). If the NALs were exceeded, you will go into Level One or Level Two – depending on your previous compliance year. Then, you were required to submit a report explaining to the Water Board of what are you are going to do to correct these exceedances. If you have found success in having 4 consecutive samples below the NALs, your facility will go back to baseline. If you fail to do so, you moved to a higher Level 1 with each higher level having more paperwork. It was an iterative process forcing improvements, but no fines.
Now: The Water Board added provisions to the Industrial General Permit (IGP) adopted in 2018 and effective on July 1, 2020. These provision are imposing Numeric Effluent Limitations (NELs) to some facilities based on which body of water they discharge to. If NELs are violated, it can result in a mandatory monetary penalty of $3,000 for a serious violation. A serious violation occurs when the limit is exceeded by more than 20% for a certain list of pollutants or 40% for a second list of pollutant. For instance, if your NEL for copper is at 0.0166 ppm and your lab results show zinc at 0.0200 ppm, you had better plan to write a check! Then, you find out that your lab results show zinc at 0.145 ppm with your NEL for zinc being 0.120 ppm, now that check amount juts doubled.
These violations are based upon the information that must be reported as part of the monitoring requirements on the IGP and uploaded onto the Stormwater Multiple Application and Report Tracking System (SMARTS).
The party receiving the notice & offer can challenge it if there is a technical or legal basis to do so (unlikely, unless it was a mistake on the numbers reported on SMARTS).
These settlement offers give the discharger the amount of money $$$$ that they must pay (based on the number of exceedances) and requires the discharger to submit the Water Quality Based Corrective Action Report. This report must include the actions that the facility is going to take in order to meet the NELs.
Here is where Gullywasher can help! We can help you meet the NELs. Just give us a call!
It is way better to spend the money on a proper BMP system to reduce pollution than to pay these fines. Grant-it – these settlement offers are not as expensive as third party lawsuits. However, these types of lawsuits still can come, and those usually result in some serious money. And in the end, the discharges still install some treatment technology.
Why not to spend the money on reducing stormwater pollution by adding the necessary BMPs versus paying expensive lawyers’ fees plus the fines???
Let us clean your stormwater so you can take a sample and rest assure you are compliant.
Let us worry about your stormwater so you can run your business.