Alert: EPA Terminated Joint National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permitting Agreement

As you may have heard or, as a permit holder, have been notified, per the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), “The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unilaterally terminated the longstanding joint National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting agreement between EPA and MassDEP through a written 10-day notice to MassDEP on June 10, 2020. The agencies’ joint permitting arrangement will end effective June 20, 2020.”

What this means is that where certain activities previously required coverage under a NPDES permit from both the MassDEP and EPA, going forward, these permits will be issued by EPA alone. This includes individual NPDES, Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs), Potable Water Treatment Facilities (PWTFs), hydroelectric, non-Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP)-related remediation, and specific dewatering permits.

For clarification purposes, per the MassDEP, this change does NOT impact the Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) (expected to be finalized in November 2020), as this was already solely administered by EPA. Therefore, if you hold an MSGP and expect to re-apply for coverage under the 2020 MSGP upon finalization, there is no further action needed at this time.

On a related note, for anyone seeking to apply for a NEW discharge under the 2020 MSGP to an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW), the MassDEP, through its 401 water quality certificate, will be putting in a new requirement to apply to MassDEP for approval, in addition to EPA. Again, anyone with existing discharges with MSGP coverage will not be affected by this new requirement.

The MassDEP further stated that more instructions on how to (re)apply for permits impacted by the joint permitting agreement termination will be posted soon. CAPACCIO is available to assist you in the determination of whether/how this change applies to you and assist you in your permitting needs. Please contact Dawn Horter, PG, LSP at for additional information.