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Stormwater program improvements streamline permitting process

Monday, August 1, 2016 - 12:00am

You spoke and we listened. Following an 18-month process that brought a diverse group of stakeholders to the table, the state environmental agency now offers stormwater management design options that will simplify the permitting process for development projects statewide.

The new Minimum Design Criteria were developed as part of the overall stormwater rules review process that was required by legislation passed in 2013. As part of the review process, state environmental regulators eliminated unnecessary requirements with a goal of easing the permitting burden for homeowners, builders and developers. The changes also eliminate repetition from rule-to-rule, incorporate current technology and design standards, and improve consistency between the various stormwater programs.

The new design criteria include only requirements that are necessary for the long-term effectiveness of stormwater control measures. Other design standards that are not absolutely necessary are now only recommendations, not requirements. Compared to the existing way of designing stormwater control measures, the new criteria state objectives rather than laying out arbitrary design standards. This allows developers more flexibility to customize stormwater designs for specific projects. 

The Minimum Design Criteria also update specifications for vegetation and other components of stormwater control measures based on current research and science. These updates will make the control measures more effective and durable without increasing costs, and in many cases, may actually lower costs.

The new stormwater design options will provide more flexibility to developers and builders statewide. (Photo courtesy of NCSU-BAE)

The rules package, which included the Minimum Design Criteria, was adopted by the state Environmental Management Commission at their July 14 meeting. The proposed changes and revisions will go before the Rules Review Commission next month and are expected to go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

In the meantime, developers submitting applications to the state’s stormwater program may begin using the new Minimum Design Criteria right now. Specifications and information on the new criteria are available in Chapter 26 of the current state stormwater manual. State engineers are currently working on re-drafting the manual to reflect the new design options.

Local government stormwater programs have a choice about whether to allow the Minimum Design Criteria within their jurisdictions. Designers seeking a stormwater permit from a local government program should check to see if stormwater control measures designed in accordance with the Minimum Design Criteria will be accepted before applying.