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(2009-0009-DWQ) GENERAL CONSTRUCTION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Storm Water Program

ORDER 2009-0009-DWQ

CONSTRUCTION GENERAL PERMIT

EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2010

Disclaimer: Nothing herein constitutes official agency interpretation of State Water Resources Control Board Order 2009-0009-DWQ. The actual provisions of Order 2009-0009-DWQ should be consulted, as they will govern in all circumstances. The information contained in this FAQ is for general guidance purposes only, and the State Water Board does not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this information.

Construction General Permit Technical Bulletins

Construction General Permit - Frequently Asked Questions

List of Acronyms:
Legally Responsible Person (LRP)
Notice of Intent (NOI)
Permit Registration Documents (PRDs)
Qualified SWPPP Developer (QSD)
Qualified SWPPP Practitioner (QSP)
Rain Event Action Plan (REAP)
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP)

  1. How do I know if I need this permit?
  2. Are there other permits I should be aware of when applying for the Construction General Permit?
  3. Who should apply for the Construction General Permit?
  4. What are the fees associated with the Construction General Permit?
  5. Who do I contact for questions regarding an invoice?
  6. How do I apply for coverage?
  7. How do I submit a NOI for a project that crosses regional board boundaries?
  8. How do I get my WDID number after I submit my PRDs to SMARTS?
  9. How can I find out the status of my permit?
  10. Can I terminate or sell a portion of my project?
  11. What if I sell the property prior to completing the construction?
  12. Does a QSP or QSD need to maintain the certifications listed in Section VII of the Construction General Permit?
  13. Can we hire one QSP to train all of our company’s superintendents?
  14. Can a QSD or QSP be an independent contractor?
  15. Is the QSD and/or QSP responsible for project compliance, or the project owner?
  16. How can I become a QSD)/(QSP)?
  17. How much will it cost to take the State Sponsored QSD/QSP Training course?
  18. Where can I get information on QSD/QSP pre-requisite programs to see if I am eligible?
  19. What is the role of the local municipality in reviewing/enforcing the SWPPP?
  20. Who is responsible for preparing and implementing the REAP? Do you have to be a QSP?
  21. When do I need to develop a REAP?
  22. Where can I get copies of inspection forms?
  23. What is a Sediment Sensitive Watershed, and how is it determined?
  24. Where can I obtain guidance for pH and turbidity sampling?
  25. What is the meaning and use of the term “direct discharge”?
  26. Does my project need to do the post-construction requirements in the Construction General Permit or the standards in the local municipal storm water permit?
  27. Do all projects need to submit an Annual Report?
  28. Do I need to revise my risk re-calculation if my project extends past the original construction end date specified?
  29. Is effluent monitoring required at my site?
  30. When is a pre-storm event visual inspection required
  31. Assuming my project lasts at least one year, do I need to implement erosion and sediment controls year round, even though a small percentage of my RUSLE Rainfall-Runoff Erosivity Factor (R factor) occurs during the summer months?
  32. How should “total area to be disturbed” on the NOI form be calculated for linear construction activity?
  33. Since linear construction activities can transverse or enter into different Regional Boards jurisdictions, how many NOIs must be submitted?
  34. Attachment A requires that photographs of the site taken before, during, and after storm events are taken during inspections and submitted through the State Water Board's SMARTS website every three rain events. Are photographs required every rain event or every third rain event for linear construction activities?
  35. Do the visual inspection requirements in Attachment A, section M(3)(a)(iv)(2) and (3) apply to Linear Underground/Overhead - Risk Type 1 projects in rural (undeveloped/unpaved) settings?

  1. How do I know if I need coverage under the Construction General Permit?
    Construction activity resulting in a land disturbance of one acre or more, or less than one acre but part of a larger common plan of development or sale must obtain the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction and Land Disturbance Activities (Construction General Permit). Construction activity subject to this permit includes clearing, grading and disturbances to the ground such as stockpiling, or excavation, but does not include regular maintenance activities performed to restore the original line, grade, or capacity of the facility.

    Storm water discharges in the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit are regulated by a separate construction permit(s) adopted by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, and may not seek coverage under the State Water Resources Control Board's General Permit. Storm water discharges associated with construction activity on Tribal lands will be regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. Are there other permits I should be aware of when applying for the Construction General Permit?
    There may be other permits or requirements in addition to the Construction General Permit. For example, you may also need a streambed alteration agreement from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, a Water Quality Certification (Clean Water Act Section 401) as administered by the State and Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and/or Clean Water Act Section 404 permit administered by the U. S. Army Corp. of Engineers. Contact the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board to determine if other permits are required for your construction activity.

  3. Who should apply for the Construction General Permit?
    The Legally Responsible Person (LRP). The LRP will typically be the project proponent. The categories of persons or entities that are eligible to serve as the LRP are set forth below. For any construction or land disturbance project where multiple persons or entities are eligible to serve as the LRP, those persons or entities shall select a single LRP. In exceptional circumstances, a person or entity that qualifies as the LRP may provide written authorization to another person or entity to serve as the LRP. In such a circumstance, the person or entity that provides the authorization retains all responsibility for compliance with the General Permit. Except as provided in category 2(d), a contractor who does not satisfy the requirements of any of the categories below is not qualified to be an LRP.

    The following persons or entities may serve as an LRP:
    1. A person, company, agency, or other entity that possesses a real property interest (including, but not limited to, fee simple ownership, easement, leasehold, or other rights of way) in the land upon which the construction or land disturbance activities will occur for the regulated site.
    2. In addition to the above, the following persons or entities may also serve as an LRP:
      1. For linear underground/overhead projects, the utility company, municipality, or other public or private company or agency that owns or operates the linear utility project (LUP);
      2. For land controlled by an estate or similar entity, the person who has day-to-day control over the land (including, but not limited to, a bankruptcy trustee, receiver, or conservator);
      3. For pollution investigation and remediation projects, any potentially responsible party that has received permission to conduct the project from the holder of a real property interest in the land; or d. For U.S. Army Corp of Engineers projects, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may provide written authorization to its bonded contractor to serve as the LRP, provided, however, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also responsible for compliance with the general permit, as authorized by the Clean Water Act or the Federal Facilities Compliance Act.

  4. What are the fees associated with the Construction General Permit?
    The annual fees are based on total disturbed area of the construction project in acres. The Storm Water fee schedule can be viewed here.  You will continue to receive an annual invoice until your project is complete and a Notice of Termination is electronically submitted via SMARTs and approved by each Regional Water Quality Control Board that your project resides in.

  5. Who do I contact for questions regarding an invoice?
    If you have questions regarding outstanding invoices or payments please contact our Fee Unit at (916) 341-5247 or FeeBranch@waterboards.ca.gov.

  6. How do I apply for coverage?
    The LRP must electronically submit Permit Registration Documents (PRDs) prior to commencement of construction activities in the Storm Water Multi- Application Report Tracking System (SMARTS). PRDs consist of the NOI, Risk Assessment, Post-Construction Calculations, a Site Map, the SWPPP, a signed certification statement by the LRP, and the first annual fee.

  7. How do I submit a permit application for a project that crosses regional board boundaries?
    If a single project traverses more than one Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) jurisdiction, a complete Notice of Intent package (Notice of Intent, site map, and fee) and Notice of Termination (upon completion of each section), must be filed for each Regional Water Board area. NOI documents are submitted into SMARTs.

  8. How do I get my WDID number after I submit my PRDs to SMARTS?
    PRDs consist of the Notice of Intent, Risk Assessment, Post-Construction Calculations, a Site Map, the SWPPP, a signed certification statement by the LRP, and the first annual fee. Once these components have been submitted to the SMARTs, a WDID number will automatically be emailed to the LRP.
  9. How can I find out the status of my permit?
    Anyone can access the State Water Board Storm Water Program Database (SMARTS) to obtain the status of a permit by either logging into SMARTS or by using the SMARTS public search tool.

  10. Can I terminate or sell a portion of my project while permitted under the Construction General Permit?
    Yes, the Construction General Permit allows a discharger to terminate portions of a construction project if those portions have been sold to another owner. The permit is not transferable, so the responsibility to obtain permit coverage, update the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), and comply with permit requirements becomes that of the new owner. The seller must notify the new owner about his/her responsibilities concerning the permit, and must notify the State Water Board by submitting the new owner's name, address, and phone number on the Notice of Termination (NOT) form for the termination to be processed. The seller must also disclose the state of construction, primarily if construction activity is ongoing, or if the post-construction requirements are completed. See Construction General Permit, Section II.C Revising Permit Coverage for Change of Acreage or New Ownership for more clarification.

  11. What if I sell the property prior to completing the construction?
    The new owner must submit new PRDs. For ongoing construction activity involving a change of ownership, the new owner must review the existing Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), determine if it is appropriate for the construction activity being undertaken. If it is not in compliance, then the SWPPP must be amended, or a new SWPPP developed.

  12. Does a QSP or QSD need to maintain the certifications listed in Section VII of the Construction General Permit?
    Yes. The Construction General Permit requires a QSP or QSD to have one of the certifications listed in Section VII to maintain standing as a QSP or QSD.

  13. Can we hire one QSP to train all of our company’s superintendents?
    Yes, one QSP can train all company superintendents. However, the Regional Water Board inspectors may ask to meet and/or conduct an inspection with the QSP responsible for a particular project/site, and that individual should be accessible. The QSP is responsible for the implementation of BMPs and training construction site employees on the SWPPP implementation on each construction project, not the trained superintendents.

  14. Can a QSD or QSP be an independent contractor?
    Yes.

  15. Is the QSD and/or QSP responsible for project compliance, or the project owner?
    The LRP is always ultimately responsible for project compliance. This individual must certify the PRDs and will be the recipient of any Notices of Violations (NOVs), Administrative Civil Liabilities (ACLs), or other penalties accrued through enforcement for the project.

  16. How can I become a QSD/QSP?
    Section VII of the Construction General Permit lists required certifications that an individual must have to become a QSD and/or QSP. In addition to meeting one of the listed pre-qualifications, an individual must have attended a State Water Board sponsored or approved QSD/QSP training course. Get information on this training course.

  17. How much will it cost to take the State Sponsored QSD/QSP Training course?
    Costs will vary. Since private training vendors who have been selected/approved to work as “trainers of record” and “specialized trainer” (through a structured Request for Qualifications process) will offer their own training courses. Each course will be required to be a certain length (i.e., minimum training hours for each required module; likely 2-3 days per designation) and follow prescribed standards, but training courses will vary in specific content/approach and are expected to vary in cost.

  18. Where can I get information on QSD/QSP pre-requisite programs to see if I am eligible?

    Pre-Requisite QSD/QSP / Certifications Registrations

    Type

    Website

    California Registered Professional Civil Engineer

    QSD/QSP

    www.pels.ca.gov

    California Registered Professional Geologist or Engineering Geologist

    QSD/QSP

    www.geology.ca.gov

    California Registered Landscape Architect

    QSD/QSP

    www.latc.ca.gov

    Professional Hydrologist registered through the American Institute of Hydrology

    QSD/QSP

    www.aihydrology.org

    Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) registered through Enviro Cert International Inc.

    QSD/QSP

    www.envirocertintl.org

    Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality (CPSWQ) registered through Enviro Cert International Inc.

    QSD/QSP

    www.envirocertintl.org

    Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control registered through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies – Level 3 (NICET)

    QSD/QSP

    www.nicet.org

    Certified erosion, sediment and storm water inspector through Enviro Cert International Inc. (CESSWI)*

    QSP

    www.envirocertintl.org

    Certified Inspector of Sediment and Erosion Control registered through Certified Inspector of Sediment and Erosion Control Inc. (CISEC)

    QSP

    www.cisecinc.org


  19. What is the role of the local municipality in reviewing/enforcing the SWPPP?
    The local municipal storm water programs and the Construction General Permit requirements intentionally have some overlap/redundancy. However, the local municipality has no authority to enforce the Construction General Permit requirements; this is done by the State and Regional Water Boards. Typically, the local agency is responsible for ensuring compliance with local storm water ordinance which prohibits sediment and other pollutants from entering the municipal separate storm sewer system, and with a local grading ordinance which typically requires an erosion and sediment control plan (typically a sheet in the construction plan set) for projects with a grading permit. In some cases, the local municipality may have a condition in its MS4 storm water permit requiring the agency to check that certain items are included in the SWPPP. This does not constitute approval of the SWPPP and the review is typically conducted prior to issuing a grading permit.

  20. Who is responsible for preparing and implementing the REAP? Do you have to be a QSP?
    The project QSP must develop and be in responsible charge of implementing the REAP.
    A new REAP must be prepared/revised specific to each forecasted rain event (any likely precipitation event forecast of 50% or greater probability). However, some of the REAPs for an individual project might look similar for each construction phase.

  21. When do I need to develop a REAP?
    A REAP must be developed 48 hours prior to any likely precipitation event (NOAA – 50 percent or greater probability of producing precipitation). This is determined by:
    1. Visit the NOAA Website
    2. Enter your zip code or city & state in the search box and click “go”
    3. Scroll down to the bottom right hand of the page under “Additional Forecasts & Information”
    4. Click on “Forecast Weather Table Interface” at the bottom of the section

  22. Where can I get copies of inspection forms?
    The Construction General Permit lists minimum requirements. Dischargers may develop their own inspection forms that satisfy the minimum criteria for their specific site.

  23. What is a Sediment Sensitive Watershed, and how is it determined?
    A sediment sensitive watershed drains into a receiving water body (1) listed on EPA’s approved CWA 303 (d) list for sedimentation/siltation, turbidity with an approved TMDL or (2) designated with beneficial uses of SPAWN, MIGRATORY and COLD. Dischargers may either use the State Water Board provided GIS guidance maps (in SMARTS and at https://ftp.waterboards.ca.gov/?u=GIS_Shared&p=GIS_Download&path=/swrcb/dwq/cgp/Risk/), or conduct a site specific analysis using the State Water Board 303(d) listings and the local Regional Board Basin Plans. Where a discharger disagrees with the State Board provided GIS guidance map, a site specific analysis should be conducted with supporting documentation submitted as an attachment in SMARTS.

  24. Where can I obtain guidance for pH and turbidity sampling?
    The Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) has a Guidance Compendium for Watershed Monitoring and Assessment. Sections 3.1.4 and 3.1.5 of this Compendium contain guidance for pH and turbidity sampling.

    A SWAMP Field Methods Course training CD is also available for the public. Please contact http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/swamp/ to request a copy.

  25. What is the meaning and use of the term “direct discharge”?
    The Construction General Permit glossary defines direct discharge as “a discharge that is routed directly to waters of the US by means of a pipe, channel, or ditch (including a municipal storm sewer system), or through surface runoff.”

  26. Does my project need to do the post-construction requirements in the Construction General Permit or the standards in the local municipal storm water permit?
    Projects located within an area subject to post-construction standards of an active Phase I or II MS4 permit that has an approved Standard Urban Stormwater Mitigation Plan (SUSMP) are exempt from the post-construction requirements in the Construction General Permit. Post-construction requirements should be considered during the project design phase to prevent the pollution of storm water runoff.  These requirements are achieved through implementation of Low Impact Development (LID) practices and the Construction General Permit and municipal storm water permits with post-construction requirements generally require that the amount of storm water runoff from the completed construction project site is similar to the amount of runoff from the site prior to construction.  In general, the post-construction requirements.

  27. Do all projects need to submit an Annual Report?
    Annual Reports must be submitted by projects that are enrolled under the Construction General Permit. The Annual Reports will be submitted electronically in SMARTS. Annual Reports are due to the State Water Board on September 1 of each year with a July 1 through June 30 compliance year.

  28. Do I need to revise my risk re-calculation if my project extends past the original construction end date specified?
    Projects that extend past their original construction end date need to re-calculate their risk level to determine if the information in SMARTS is correct. Use the original start of construction date and a realistic end date when submitting your COI.

  29. Is effluent monitoring required at my site?
    Effluent monitoring is required for Risk Level 2 & 3 (LUP Type 2 & 3) project sites and Risk Level 1 (LUP Type 1) where there are non-visible pollutants. The Construction General Permit requires effluent monitoring of discharges resulting from a qualifying rain event (defined as one half inch or greater). A rain event can only conclude when there is a minimum of 48 hours of dry weather. There will be some instances where a rain event may not reach on half inch until days 2 or 3 (or later). Dischargers should take grab samples any time there is a discharge observed, and then check the rain event size at the conclusion. There will be some instances where rain events larger than one half inch will not produce discharge.
    Effluent Monitoring Results must be submitted electronically through SMARTS.

  30. When is a pre-storm event visual inspection required?
    The Construction General Permit requires visual monitoring for Qualifying Rain Events of 0.5 inch or more. The size of a rain event cannot be predicted so an adequate trigger for a pre-storm event visual inspection would be same trigger for the Rain Event Action Plan (REAP): 50 percent or greater probability of producing precipitation based on the National Weather Service Forecast Office (NOAA). Visit the NOAA Website

  31. Assuming my project lasts at least one year, do I need to implement erosion and sediment controls year round, even though a small percentage of my RUSLE Rainfall-Runoff Erosivity Factor (R factor) occurs during the summer months?
    An effective combination of erosion and sediment controls, as defined in the permit, must be deployed year round.

  32. How should “total area to be disturbed” on the NOI form be calculated for linear construction activity?
    All disturbances to the ground must be accounted for and considered additive (see the Construction General Permit’s Attachment A.2. section on “Calculation Land Disturbance Areas of LUPs”). The following formula attempts to account for all disturbances from the construction activity, not just the trenching activity itself:

    [Width of disturbance (including trench width) + Immediate access width] * Length of Project pipe

    + Areas where project-related activity occur (i.e, equipment and material storage, staging, and preparation areas, ancillary facility areas)

    + (Bore hole diameter * Immediate access width) * number of bore holes

    + New road construction width * road length

    = Total area to be disturbed

    This formula illustrates how to account for disturbances to the ground resulting from the construction activity. Although dischargers are not required to use this exact formula, they must include all disturbances to the ground in their total calculation.


  33. Since linear construction activities can transverse or enter into different Regional Boards jurisdictions, how many NOIs must be submitted?
    Regardless of the project scheduling, separate PRDs must be submitted electronically in SMARTS for each Regional Board area prior to the commencement of construction activities (see the Construction General Permit’s Attachment A, section 4).

  34. Attachment A requires that photographs of the site taken before, during, and after storm events are taken during inspections, and submitted through the State Water Board's SMARTS website every three rain events. Are photographs required every rain event or every third rain event for linear construction activities?
    Photographs must be taken and submitted in SMARTS every third rain event regardless of rain event size. No action pertaining to photo documentation is necessary for rain events one and two.

  35. Do the visual inspection requirements in Attachment A, section M(3)(a)(iv)(2) and (3) apply to Linear Underground/Overhead - Risk Type 1 projects in rural (undeveloped/unpaved) settings?
    The specific, daily closure requirements will vary from project-to-project. The discharger must specify suitable daily closure requirements in the SWPPP that reflect the characteristics of the project and the necessary water quality protections associated with the project.  Office of Chief Counsel Memo, dated January 31, 2012

Please email any questions you may have about the Construction General Permit at stormwater@waterboards.ca.gov.