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Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Settles EPA Multi-Site Construction-Related Stormwater Case, Protecting Water Quality in Pennsylvania

09/05/2018
Contact Information: 
David Sternberg (sternberg.david@epa.gov)
215-814-5548

PHILADELPHIA (September 5, 2018) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) have agreed to settle a multi-site construction-related stormwater case.  The parties are resolving 209 alleged violations at PennDOT-owned construction sites arising from PennDOT’s construction contractors failing to fully implement best management practices (BMPs) as required by the Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.

In a consent agreement with EPA, PennDOT has agreed to implement a comprehensive compliance management program and complete multi-million dollar environmentally beneficial projects in several Pennsylvania watersheds, including Codorus Creek Watershed in York County.                              

“This case is part of EPA’s effort to protect local waters by vigorously enforcing the Clean Water Act.,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Without appropriate onsite pollution controls, sediment-laden runoff from construction activities can pollute our rivers, lakes and streams. This agreement institutes a comprehensive program that will enable PennDOT to better comply with discharge requirements, resulting in cleaner water for communities across Pennsylvania.” 

As part of the settlement, PennDOT has already begun to create a compliance management program to ensure that their construction activities meet the requirements of their Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permits.  The major elements of this program include:

  • Developing a compliance monitoring data system to track weekly visual self-inspections using mobile devices and improve monitoring of construction contractors’ NPDES compliance, including the status of actions to correct deficiencies;

  • Conducting stormwater inspection training – PennDOT will provide training to all current and newly hired staff on proper stormwater inspection methodology;

  • Implementing periodic self-audits of construction sites to determine the effectiveness of the compliance management program and its elements; and,

  • Creating a public information web page identifying PennDOT efforts to comply with NPDES requirements

PennDOT’s environmentally beneficial projects will restore the quality of streams within the Codorus Creek and other Watersheds.  PennDOT will also test an innovative procurement mechanism which requires contractors to compete for a project from a sediment-reduction standpoint, with the contract being awarded to the contractor whose project management plan will reduce the most sediment pollution for the available funds.  

Plans may include improvements like the construction of structural BMPs such as stormwater management ponds, vegetated swales and buffer strips, and stabilizing stream banks for reducing sediment loadings to surface waters.   This effort is a pilot project for coordination between PennDOT and local municipalities regarding stormwater management and will serve as a model for other communities.  

PennDOT will also pay a penalty of $100,000.

Under the Clean Water Act, the NPDES program requires construction sites to obtain discharge permits.  EPA has delegated the NPDES program to Pennsylvania.  In order meet these responsibilities, PADEP has developed a program that includes inspections by County Conservation Districts (CCDs) to ensure compliance with Pennsylvania’s NPDES construction program requirements. In this settlement, EPA has coordinated with the CCDs in Pennsylvania regarding inspections of PennDOT construction sites and the sharing of compliance information.  The CCDs in Pennsylvania were instrumental in contributing to the success of this settlement.

Uncontrolled storm water runoff from highway construction sites often contains sediment and other pollutants. The Clean Water Act requires owners of certain industrial and construction operations to obtain a permit before discharging storm water runoff into waterways.   These permits include pollution-reducing BMPs such as spill prevention safeguards, runoff reduction measures, and employee training.

For more information about EPAs storm water program: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/npdes-stormwater-program