Consensus Report

Improving the EPA Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Stormwater Discharges (2019)

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As part of its work under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees a permit program -- the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) -- that requires industries to manage onsite stormwater to minimize discharges of pollutants to the environment. Concerns about the effectiveness of efforts to date resulted in a settlement agreement between EPA, industry organizations, and environmental groups to review and improve certain aspects of the program, with a focus on monitoring and retention standards. This report offers guidance to inform the next revision of the MSGP, expected in 2020.

The report concludes that, in general, EPA has been slow to adopt new knowledge into its MSGP permit revisions. The industrial facilities and the nation's waters would be best served by an MSGP that is continuously improving based on analyses of new data and focused data gathering efforts, advances in industrial stormwater science and technology, and structured learning to develop and evaluate permit improvements. The report recommends that EPA periodically review and update sector-specific benchmark monitoring requirements to incorporate new scientific information. The report also recommends a tiered approach to monitoring that would improve the overall quality of monitoring data while balancing the overall burden to industry and permitting agencies.