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NAHB, EPA Differ on Best Storm Water Compliance Approach








Judging from a June meeting of representatives from NAHB and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the two groups have a long way to go to reach a consensus on the best way to increase compliance with storm water permitting regulations and make the program an easier, more comprehensible process for the nation's home builders.

So far, EPA has rejected ideas submitted by NAHB to streamline the permitting program and improve enforcement and compliance, according to association staff members who have been working on this issue. Fortunately, a storm water permit reform bill continues to gain traction on Capitol Hill.

And in the meantime, the federal agency has reported that it is not getting much cooperation from its regional offices on launching its own pilot programs.

Participating in last month's NAHB-hosted meeting were representatives from home builders associations in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia; Region 3 EPA officials; state environmental agencies; and EPA headquarters staff.

EPA invited speakers to the meeting to present several pilot possibilities modeled on successful partnerships in other areas of the country. One, Wisconsin's Green Tier project, provides incentives for builders -- including reduced enforcement and additional promotional opportunities -- who go beyond what storm water permitting regulations require.

NAHB also presented its new Model Environmental Management System, an Excel-based CD tool that allows builders to target voluntary training programs and compliance procedures for storm water management and other environmental issues.

The federal regulators had other ideas, including the introduction of a "sustainability" aspect into the compliance program, which rankled Maryland State Builders Association executive officer Kathleen Maloney.

EPA would look at sustainability to set limits on the amount of home building that should be allowed in a particular geographic area, she said. "EPA's goal is to address how much development the environment can sustain, and we are not interested in having that sort of debate with them. It's not appropriate. Local jurisdictions already have a mandate to talk about sustainability through zoning and building codes."


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December 7, 2019, 4:13 am PDT

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