On December 24, 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's ("PADEP") Bureau of Clean Water reissued the PAG-03 NPDES General Permit for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity for a new, five-year term. This general permit will take effect March 24, 2023.

Entities currently authorized under the previous PAG-03 General Permit must submit a Notice of Intent ("NOI") to PADEP to maintain coverage under the reissued PAG-03 General Permit, and the deadline to do so is March 23, 2023. In other words, for entities currently operating a facility under the PAG-03, you must prepare and submit an NOI by this Thursday, March 23, 2023 to prevent a potential gap in coverage. Through the NOI, the permittee certifies that it remains eligible for and will comply with the reissued PAG-03 General Permit. The NOI form is available on PADEP's website here.

The PAG-03 General Permit is part of a regulatory program implementing both federal and state water quality statutes. As part of the overall goal of reducing pollution in the nation's waterways, the federal Clean Water Act requires permits for all discharges from a point source. This program is generally referred to as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES"). NPDES permits establish effluent limits on a discharge, specifying the quality and quantity of pollutants that may be discharged into surface water.

Pennsylvania has primacy over the NPDES program in the Commonwealth, and PADEP also derives authority for NPDES permits from Pennsylvania's own Clean Streams Law, which also prohibits the discharge of industrial waste to surface waters unless authorized by regulation or a permit.

NPDES permits for point sources may be sought on a site-specific basis, but some activities may instead be covered by a "general permit." General permits apply to a subset of facilities that meet certain criteria. Those facilities must submit an NOI to PADEP indicating its intent to be covered by the general permit and providing specific information to enable PADEP to confirm eligibility.

Some industrial activities may be exempt from the NPDES permit altogether. For example, those that certify their activities and materials are not exposed to stormwater (i.e., a No Exposure Certification or "NEC"). PADEP has confirmed to McNees that the NECs do not require resubmission at this time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.