EPA Rules to Reduce Water Pollution from Construction Sites

New Protective Measure in Response to NRDC Legal Action

WASHINGTON (November 23, 2009) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a final rule that will help protect America’s waterways from pollution from construction sites. This rule was issued in response to a 2004 lawsuit against the EPA filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council. In 2006, a U.S. Federal District Court in Central California ordered the EPA to issue a final rule by December 2009.

Soil and sediment runoff is one of the leading causes of water quality problems nationwide. Sediment pollution from construction sites contaminates drinking water, impacts recreational waters, diminishes commercial fisheries and increases the risk of flood damage. Dirty runoff from construction sites can also carry other pollutants into waterways.

According to the EPA, the rule will take effect in February 2010 and will be phased in over four years. The 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 and comply with verifiable pollution limits.

Following is a statement by Jon Devine, a senior attorney for the water program at NRDC:

“This rule will help make the construction industry clean up its act when it comes to America’s waterways. This is an important step forward in reducing dirty runoff from construction sites, which is a major cause of pollution to our rivers and streams. For the first time, builders across the country will have to take steps to keep dirty soil and sediment from entering waterways in compliance with enforceable, measurable and objective standards.”