1/22/21
PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, (614) 644-2160
MEDIA CONTACT: Heidi Griesmer
CITIZEN CONTACT: Mary McCarron

Ohio EPA Proposes Water Quality Certification for Nationwide Permits

Ohio EPA is holding a virtual hearing revising its water quality certifications that regulate several categories of similar dredge and fill-type activities that can be covered under a single, nationwide permit.

During the virtual hearing, which will begin at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, the Agency will present information and the public can submit written comments on the record about the proposed certification to the nationwide permits. Citizens who want to participate must preregister in advance of the meeting.

Nationwide permits are federal actions issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) designed to reduce the regulatory and administrative burdens for projects that will result in minimal water quality impacts. Each state must certify each nationwide permit and may include terms specific to the needs of each state. Examples of these types of permits that Ohio certifies include temporary construction, access and dewatering, utility line activities, maintenance activities, bank stabilization, linear transportation projects, aquatic habitat restoration, residential development, and commercial and institutional developments. Ohio EPA water quality certifications remain in place for five years.

The Corps proposed nationwide permits published in September 2020 included all 56 activities. The draft state certification was based on this original proposal. The Corps recently finalized the nationwide permits and chose to only issue 16 nationwide permits while the remaining 40 nationwide permits will remain under the conditions finalized in 2017. The state water quality certification will be adjusted to only certify those 16 nationwide permits. Details of these changes will be presented during the virtual public hearing.

Proposed changes to the draft certification for Ohio include:

  • updating mitigation requirements for stream impacts to be more consistent with the Corps’ new requirements;
  • clarified requirements for a Director’s Authorization application and an Ohio Rapid Assessment Method verification; and 
  • the original permit for utility activities is being separated into three separate nationwide permits for oil and gas, electric utilities, and water and other substances utilities. Ohio’s water quality certification conditions are the same for all three permits.

Approved activities would result in lowering of water quality and surface waters of the state, including lakes, wetlands and streams. In order to receive a nationwide permit, the applicant must demonstrate activities will not violate Ohio’s water quality standards or create adverse impacts to water quality as required in the federal Clean Water Act. Anyone who discharges dredged or fill material into Ohio waters is required to obtain a water quality certification from Ohio EPA and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ohio EPA will accept written comments on the draft water quality certifications through close of business Feb. 11. Comments may be sent to Ohio EPA-DSW, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049., or emailed to epa.dswcomments@epa.ohio.gov.

The Draft Nationwide Water Quality Certification that authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permits is available online.

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The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.

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