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What is NPDES?

NPDES is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. It is a nationally mandated program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the amount of polluted discharges from various sources, including construction activity. The program was designed in the spirit of the Clean Water Act of 1972, and consists of permitting, inspections, SWPPPs (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans), and Best Management Practices designed to reduce and eliminate polluted discharges from construction sites.

How does NPDES affect me?

As it relates to Large (more than 5 acres) and Small (1 to 5 acres) construction activity, the NPDES is a set of regulations that work to eliminate polluted stormwater discharge from construction sites into waters of the state. While NPDES is administered by the EPA on a national level, since October of 2000 the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has been delegated with the responsibility for carrying out and enforcing the NPDES program in Florida.

All large and small construction sites in Florida are required to submit a Notice of Intent (permit) to the NPDES Stormwater division of the FDEP. This would include builders that are disturbing soil that may be less than an acre if that area is part of a common plan that is greater than an acre. As a condition of the permit, the Owner or Operator of the site must develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.

The plan must include the Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will be used on site to prevent polluted Stormwater from either leaving the site, or provide methods for filtering and cleaning the water before any off-site discharge. The site and plan must also be inspected weekly and after all rain events 0.5 inches or greater to ensure the BMPs employed on site are in good working condition, properly located and effective for that site.

The inspections must identify areas that need to be repaired, replaced or in anyway altered to ensure compliance to the permit. As soon as possible, but always within seven days of the inspection, the deficiencies noted in the inspection should be addressed. They can then be noted in the following inspection as completed items, ensuring that the site is up to date and in compliance with the NPDES rules.

At the completion of the construction site (final stabilization) or a change in ownership, the Owner or Operator must file a Notice of Termination (NOT) with the state, effectively removing themselves from the responsibility for the site.