With the new state stormwater regulations now in place, construction industry leaders see a prime upcoming opportunity to let the California legislature personally know about the painful costs associated with its implementation.

Emily Cohen, director of government affairs for the union-affiliated Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, Pleasanton, says the association sent out an alert to members that during a comment period at an Oct. 6 hearing of the senate select committee on California Job Creation and Retention, construction company representatives can cover their specific additional costs in complying with the new State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) rules, such as employee training fees and potential hefty fines assessed for noncompliance.

As I mentioned in a recent blog, construction companies whose projects disturb one or more acres of soil are required to obtain coverage under a general permit for discharges of stormwater associated with the construction.

Firms need to either employ or pay consultants to monitor the sites after rainfall. You have to have a Qualified Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Practitioner (QSP) and, on any new project, a Qualified Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Developer (QSD) to prepare the new SWPPP for the project. Basically, if it rains more than a half-inch, the QSP will have to take samples of any runoff from Level 2 or 3 sites and report the results to a public database. If it is a Caltrans project, as little as 1/10th inch of rain can trigger sampling.

The EUCA alert says that the new regulations go above and beyond what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandates, and “will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs with no proven environmental benefits. This is a major burden being placed upon the construction industry.”

With the alert, Cohen says EUCA is encouraging members to send a letter to Senator Roderick Wright, chairman of the committee, and let him know specifically how these new regulations will affect their businesses.

In a sample letter, EUCA writes: “We strongly encourage the senate select committee on California Job Creation and Retention to tell the SWRCB to go back to the drawing board and engage stakeholders to conduct the required analysis of benefits, costs and alternatives before proceeding any further with such drastic permit changes.”

To address the committee’s purpose, the alert says “Lack of transparency in the regulatory process, especially when it comes to the cost impact of a major permit change, discourages investment and job creation in California.  This topic is a prime example of our state’s overreaching regulatory climate that results in excessive costs and questionable environmental gain.”

The deadline for comment letters is Oct. 3. Cohen says EUCA also encourages industry representatives to appear in person at the Oct. 6 committee hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Room 112.