Permit Assistance at Ohio EPA

Ohio EPA’s mission is to protect the environment and public health by ensuring compliance with environmental laws. However, we also recognize the challenges we face as a state in attracting and retaining businesses to maintain a strong economy for Ohio. To help meet both of these goals we strive for timely permit application reviews that meet business timeframes whenever possible, while continuing our main mission of protecting the environment and public health.

Ohio EPA is working to continuously improve the accessibility, flexibility, responsiveness, and problem solving involved in our daily activities. As a result, we’ve made several changes to improve the efficiency of our permitting process and are currently reviewing our business practices for other areas of improvement.

Ohio EPA has developed this webpage to organize and identify information that can help businesses navigate through the environmental permitting process. If after reviewing this information you still need help, please feel free to contact us by email or phone at 1-800-329-7518.

The Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) is a non-regulatory, free and confidential program that provides information and resources to help businesses comply with environmental regulations. OCAPP also helps customers identify and implement pollution prevention measures that can save money, increase business performance and benefit the environment. Services of the office include a toll-free hotline, online chat feature, on-site compliance and pollution prevention assessments, workshops/training, plain-English publications and assistance in completing permit application forms.

How do I know if I need permits from Ohio EPA?

If your project/activity will discharge pollutants to the air, land, water or sewers, you probably need a permit. Sometimes, whether you need a permit depends on the type and quantity of your emissions or discharge. If your business involves storage, disposal or treatment of hazardous wastes, you may need a permit as well. See Ohio EPA’s Guide to Environmental Permitting or the Permit Wizard as a starting point to help you identify where you need permits.

I need to apply for an Ohio EPA permit. What should I do first?

Before actually submitting any permit applications to Ohio EPA, contact your local district office to discuss your project. Depending on where the project is located, you may need to contact the local air agency to discuss air permitting requirements.

Our permitting staff can help you determine what permits you’ll need for a project. For larger projects, we recommend a pre-application meeting to discuss the project. A pre-application is a good opportunity to discuss the scope of the project and identify the technical information that will be needed as part of the permit application process. This also provides you with an opportunity to discuss the permit review process and convey any important time considerations related to your proposed construction schedule.

A lot of time and effort can be saved by discussing our mutual needs before you fill out any forms. This will help ensure that you file a complete application - one that contains all of the data and information needed to prepare a permit.

My project requires multiple permits from Ohio EPA. Can someone at Ohio EPA help me keep track of everything?

Yes! Contact Ohio EPA’s Mark Johnson if you have a big project requiring multiple permits. The deputy director can help monitor the progress of your permit application reviews, help coordinate meetings with division staff to discuss permitting issues, and troubleshoot any problems that arise during the permit review process. We want to work with you to help ensure that your permits are all on track and moving forward.

How can I get copies of Ohio EPA’s permit application forms?

You can download permit application forms from Ohio EPA’s website. You may also contact your local Ohio EPA district office to get the appropriate application forms. Many applications can also be submitted electronically using Ohio EPA’s eBusiness Center.

How long does it take to get permits from Ohio EPA?

This depends on many factors. For some permits, such as air and water, Ohio law generally sets a maximum of 180 days to act on a permit after receiving a complete application, so we recommend that you submit your application six months before you want to start construction. The permit review process generally goes faster than 180 days and we can try to further expedite the review if you are facing significant scheduling/construction constraints.

It’s important to know, though, that Ohio’s permitting laws require mandatory public notice and hearing requirements for some types of permits. These are important steps that cannot be skipped or shortened. 

The best approach is to plan ahead and talk with us early, so that we understand your time tables for wanting to begin construction and can try to meet these needs.

How much does a permit cost?

It varies according to the type of permit. For a current listing of fees, refer to Ohio EPA’s Fee Schedule.

How long does a permit last?

It depends on the type of permit. For permits to construct sources, you usually have 18 months to initiate construction after you get your permit. For air and water permits, you can submit a request for a 12-month extension to this time period.

Operating and discharge permits typically last five years. If your operating permit is set to expire, you are required to get it renewed. Your issued permit and the regulations outline the time frames and when a renewal application is required. Your Ohio EPA local district office can also help you determine when renewal applications are due.

If you make changes to your process or operations, this may require that you modify any existing permits for these activities.

Can Ohio EPA help me with the permit application process?

You should definitely work with Ohio EPA staff during the permit application process to ensure that your application is complete. In a pre-application meeting, we’ll talk about what should be contained in the application, what other data may be needed, etc. The responsibility for actually filling out the forms, however, remains with the applicant.

If you operate a small business with fewer than 100 employees, you can also contact Ohio EPA’s Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) for help in filling out application forms at 1-800-329-7518. 

Should I hire a consultant to help me?

This depends on the technical skills of you and/or your staff. Some permits are fairly simple. For those that are complex, outside help can be beneficial. Ohio EPA cannot make recommendations on specific consulting firms to use. If you belong to a business or trade association, they may be able to help you locate consulting resources.

As a general rule, you should seek help from someone who specializes in the particular permitting area that you need assistance with (e.g., air permitting, air modeling, wastewater system design and installation). If you can get consulting help from someone with technical expertise in writing permits for operations similar to yours, this may also help save you time in getting permits. Ohio EPA’s fact sheet on environmental consultants also provides more information to help you make an informed decision.

Can I do any work on site prior to getting an air permit?

In 2006, Senate Bill 265 expanded Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rule 3745-31-33 to identify activities that are permissible prior to obtaining an air permit-to-install. Under the previous version of this rule, you were allowed to clear a site of vegetation and old buildings, dig holes for building or equipment footers, but you could not pour concrete or perform other activities of a permanent nature. These activities were allowed for all types of air projects (from large to small sites).

OAC rule 3745-31-33 now allows for additional activities prior to receiving an air permit. These activities can occur, provided that the owner or operator of the source has filed a complete application for a permit-to-install, the director or the director’s designee has determined that the application is complete, and the owner or operator of the source has notified the director that this activity will be undertaken prior to the issuance of a permit-to install. Activities undertaken by the source under this rule are at the risk of the owner or operator and are not a guarantee of final permit issuance. The rules do not authorize these activities if they are associated with a major source (Title V) or a synthetic minor air permit.

It’s important that you contact the permit writer at Ohio EPA to have them review pre-construction activities to help you decide what can and cannot be done before a final permit is obtained. You may need other Ohio EPA permits before beginning site activities, such as a construction storm water permit or 401 Water Quality Certification/404 permit.

I’m just a small business, but I need Ohio EPA permits too. Can I get help?

Yes!  If you operate a small business, contact Ohio EPA’s Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) for help.

OCAPP is an independent office within Ohio EPA that was established with a goal of providing information and resources to help businesses achieve compliance with environmental regulations. OCAPP can also help you identify and implement pollution prevention (P2) measures that can save money, increase business performance and benefit the environment.

OCAPP is a not a regulatory program at Ohio EPA. This means that information obtained by the office is not shared with Ohio EPA inspection or enforcement staff. Services of the office include:

  • Toll-free hotline (1-800-329-7518) open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for your questions
  • On-site compliance and P2 assessments
  • Compliance and P2 workshops/training
  • Library of publications that explain regulatory requirements in plain English
  • Assistance in completing permit application forms

What are the top things I can do to help ensure that my permit application review process goes smoothly?

See our “Keys to Successful Permitting,” for tips to help you navigate Ohio EPA’s permitting processes and obtain the proper permits for your project.

How can I give Ohio EPA my feedback on my permitting experience?

We are continuously looking for ways to improve our permitting processes and strive to be responsive to our customers, while also meeting our important mission of environmental protection. If you have a positive experience that you would like to share, or suggestions on ways to improve our permitting processes, we invite you to provide us with your feedback.

Select your business site carefully.

If you’re planning to locate in an area where you do not have access to city water and sewer, you could need several additional permits related to construction, installation and discharges. Locating in a sewered area with access to a treatment facility that has adequate capacity to handle your discharges can help reduce your permitting requirements. Also, when configuring your site, plan to avoid impacts to wetlands and streams. This could eliminate the need for state water quality certification and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Plan ahead and talk with Ohio EPA early. Be sure to convey any significant scheduling or construction time frames.

Meet with your Ohio EPA district office or local air agency (LAA) before you submit your permit applications. This pre-application meeting is very helpful to give you an idea of what permits and information will be needed by Ohio EPA and to discuss the permit review process. When you talk with the district office (or local air agency) about your project, convey any significant scheduling or construction time frames. Ohio EPA does its best to process permits as quickly as possible, but if you have a need to expedite your review because of significant business/economic considerations, it is very helpful for us to be aware of this early on.

File complete permit applications.

Include all the information needed on application forms and any additional materials such as design drawings, process information, equipment specifications, etc., required as part of the application. Make sure you have all the proper signatures needed on your forms and, if required, items like a professional engineer (P.E.) certification, etc. Forgetting even small items can add time to the review process.

Make sure you’ve submitted all the permit applications needed for the project.

Your project may need permits for various areas including air, waste, water, construction storm water and water quality certification. It is best to identify all the permits your project needs as soon as possible to ensure that all required reviews and time frames can be accounted for in your project timeline.

Submit all your permit applications at the same time to help avoid delays.

Failing to submit one permit application may delay your entire project. When multiple permits are needed for a project, Ohio EPA works to coordinate the issuance, so all permits will be ready at the same time. If there are multiple permits that require a public hearing or information session, Ohio EPA can sometimes schedule a single hearing or session on all permits to save time.

Respond promptly to information requests from the district office or local air agency.

The faster you respond, the faster we can continue to process your permits.

Monitor the progress of your permit application review.

After submitting your applications, talk directly with your district office or LAA to monitor the progress of your permit application review.

Once an application is submitted, try to avoid making significant changes.

You should not make changes to the application during the permit review process unless being advised to do this by Ohio EPA or the LAA. Major changes may cause the need to re-review some or all of the permit.

Talk with the district office (or LAA) about what may be allowed before you begin any site activity.

Some pre-construction activities may be authorized before you actually get your permit, but it’s important to talk with the district office (or LAA) about what may be allowed before you begin any site activity. See our Commonly Asked Questions for more detail.

Plan ahead and get permits early.

Again, planning ahead and working on getting permits early is the best strategy to help avoid delays when you need to start construction.

Know your permit.

Once you get your permits, read and make sure you understand them. If you have questions about the terms and conditions of your permits, contact your local Ohio EPA district office or LAA for clarification.

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