Industrial Stormwater Permit Guide

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Lesson 2: Permitting Options and Requirements

Industrial and commercial stormwater is covered under one of two types of NPDES permits: individual permits or general permits. EPA's industrial stormwater general permit is known as the multi-sector general permit (MSGP). The MSGP is EPA's alternative to issuing individual permits to each of the thousands of industrial stormwater dischargers. Unlike individual permits, which require facilities to submit detailed application forms on which the permitting authority develops a facility-specific NPDES permit, the MSGP provides a permit that is written to cover a wide range of industrial and commercial activities and includes requirements that apply more broadly to this universe of dischargers. To obtain coverage under the MSGP, facilities submit a simple "Notice of Intent" (NOI) form in lieu of the more detailed application. In general, it is faster to obtain permit coverage under the MSGP than under a site-specific individual permit.

EPA's MSGP is organized to include requirements that apply to all permittees. It also includes requirements that apply to specific industrial categories, requirements that apply in specific states, territories or Indian Country lands, and requirements that apply in certain other instances (e.g. where a permittee discharges to an impaired water body). A copy of the current MSGP is available at

NPDES permits, such as the MSGP, are to be issued for no more than 5 years. At times, however, issues may arise that prevent EPA or a state from reissuing that permit until some time after the 5 year period has elapsed. In certain circumstances, permittees may continue to be covered under those "administratively extended" permits until such time as a new permit is issued or reissued. For EPA's MSGP, typically facilities that are covered under the permit remain covered until either coverage is terminated by the permitee or EPA or a new or reissued permit becomes available in which case the permittee is to follow the directions of that new permit. EPA regulations, however, do not allow the Agency to cover new facilities under an administratively extended general permit. In those instances, permittees should either apply for coverage under an individual permit (more detailed application forms and process), or if stated by EPA may follow the requirements described in the administratively extended general permit and rely on EPA’s enforcement discretion to not take action against facilities trying to comply. Facilities should be aware that this second option does not protect them from citizen suits, an option that is available under the NPDES program.

To obtain coverage under the MSGP, facility operators must first develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). After a SWPPP is in place, facility operators can then submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to EPA to obtain permit coverage. These procedures apply if you are located within one of the states or territories who are NOT authorized to administer the NPDES permit program although similar procedures exist in most other areas where states ARE the NPDES permitting authority.

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