TDEC Announces Open Enrollment for Qualifying Local Program’s Construction Stormwater Permitting
Program Designed to Build Permitting Efficiencies, Improve Water Quality
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced today that the pilot period for the Qualifying Local Program has concluded and the department is now accepting new applications through an open, year-round enrollment. The QLP program is designed to build efficiencies in how construction stormwater permits are issued, while satisfying the permit requirements at both the state and local levels and improving overall water quality.
During last summer’s legislative session, Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) and Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) sponsored and passed legislation through Public Chapter 1019 in the Tennessee General Assembly, allowing any eligible Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems to apply through TDEC to become a Qualifying Local Program. The legislation became effective July 1, 2013, following the conclusion of the pilot period.
“Last October, TDEC leadership joined Rep. Williams and local community officials in Knoxville for a ceremony formally announcing the first five communities to take part in the new stormwater permitting program,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Those five pilot participants were the cities of Bristol, Cookeville and Knoxville, in addition to Knox and Washington counties. We are pleased to be in a position to open up the program to other Tennessee communities.”
The Qualifying Local Program’s main intent is to eliminate the duplicative efforts of the current permitting process. Some of the most significant benefits of a QLP include:
- A more streamlined and efficient process for managing construction stormwater by eliminating permit and review duplication at the local and state levels;
- Eliminating additional effort at the state level for construction site operators by providing only one set of requirements to follow; and
- A more effective construction stormwater program resulting in greater water quality protection.
In order to achieve QLP status, the MS4 must demonstrate that its construction stormwater program meets or exceeds the provisions of the state’s Construction General Permit. After being selected to participate in the QLP program, an MS4 would be able to administer its own stormwater construction permitting program at the local level without duplicating the review and approval process at the state level.
In turn, the site owners or operators of new construction activities within the jurisdiction of the qualifying MS4 will be required to submit paperwork and any fees only at the local level, potentially saving up to $7,500 in state fees and taking less time by eliminating the additional effort at the state level. Permit coverage through the QLP program will authorize the operator of the construction activity to discharge stormwater associated with construction activity under both the state’s Construction General Permit and the QLP’s construction stormwater program. Other required permits, such as Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits, will still be handled by TDEC.
“TDEC recognizes there are many local jurisdictions throughout Tennessee that have developed an effective construction stormwater program of their own and have a solid regulatory program in place,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Dr. Shari Meghreblian. “These cities are already designated as MS4s and are generally comprised of fast-growing urban communities. This program builds much needed efficiencies into the permitting process, improving customer service at the state and local level, while targeting resources where they are needed most.”
Critical to the creation of this program was the establishment of a diverse stakeholder committee representing a variety of groups, including MS4s, professional associations, universities and members of government, development and environmental communities. The advisory committee worked to develop the criteria and program incentives designed to encourage MS4s to achieve QLP status.
For more information about TDEC’s pilot Qualifying Local Program or to submit an application for participation, please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/wpc/stormh2o/qlp.shtml. Municipalities interested in the QLP program may also contact Robert Karesh at (615) 253-5402 or Robert.Karesh@tn.gov; and Jennifer Watson at (615) 532-0359 or Jennifer.Watson@tn.gov.
Additional information about Stormwater Construction General Permit requirements is available at http://www.tn.gov/environment/permits/conststrm.shtml.