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RULES AND REGULATIONS

Title 25—ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BOARD

[ 25 PA. CODE CH. 102 ]

Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management

[40 Pa.B. 4861]
[Saturday, August 21, 2010]

 The Environmental Quality Board (Board) amends Chapter 102 (relating to erosion and sediment control and stormwater management). The final-form rulemaking incorporates the Federal Clean Water Act ''Phase II'' National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities, codifies post construction stormwater management (PCSM) requirements, including long-term operation and maintenance requirements of PCSM best management practices (BMPs), include specific antidegradation implementation provisions, updates agricultural planning and implementation requirements, update erosion and sediment (E&S) control requirements, and establishes riparian buffer and riparian forest buffer provisions.

 The significant revisions to the final-form rulemaking in response to comments include the following: the removal of the proposed permit-by-rule, which was opposed as drafted by most commentators, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the addition of exemptions and waivers from the mandatory riparian buffer requirements, as requested by various sectors of the regulated community; and the addition of grandfathering provision for NPDES permit renewals regarding PCSM as requested by the builders.

 This order was adopted by the Board at its meeting of May 17, 2010.

A. Effective Date

 This final-form rulemaking will go into effect November 19, 2010.

B. Contact Persons

 For further information, contact Kenneth F. Murin, Chief, Division of Waterways, Wetlands, and Stormwater Management, P. O. Box 8775, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8775, (717) 787-6827; or Margaret O. Murphy, Assistant Counsel, Bureau of Regulatory Counsel, P. O. Box 8464, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8464, (717) 787-7060. Persons with a disability may use the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service, (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users). This final-form rulemaking is available on the Department of Environmental Protection's (Department) web site at http://www.depweb.state. pa.us.

C. Statutory Authority

 The final-form rulemaking is being made under the authority of sections 5 and 402 of The Clean Streams Law (act) (35 P. S. §§ 691.5 and 691.402), which authorize the Department and the Board to formulate, adopt and promulgate rules and regulations that are necessary to implement the provisions of the act; section 1917-A of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. § 510-17), which authorizes the Department to prevent the occurrence of a nuisance and requires the Department to protect the people of this Commonwealth from unsanitary conditions and other nuisances, including any condition declared to be a nuisance by any law administered by the Department; section 1920-A of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. § 510-20), which authorizes the Board to promulgate rules and regulations that may be determined by the Board to be for the proper performance of the work of the Department; and section 11(2) of the Conservation District Law (3 P. S. § 859(2)). Specifically, under these authorities, the Department and the Board are authorized to adopt regulations that will protect, maintain, reclaim and restore waters of this Commonwealth. Under these authorities, Chapter 102 regulates accelerated erosion, sedimentation and stormwater runoff regarding earth disturbance activities. Specifically, accelerated erosion and sedimentation must be minimized during earth disturbance activities and the associated change in the volume, rate and quality of post construction stormwater runoff must be controlled to prevent pollution and protect, maintain, reclaim and restore waters of this Commonwealth.

D. Background and Purpose of the Final-Form Rulemaking

 The purpose of this final-form rulemaking is to amend the existing E&S control regulations in Chapter 102. Since 1972, earth disturbance activities regarding agricultural plowing and tilling, as well as nonagricultural earth disturbance activities have been regulated under Chapter 102 by requiring persons to develop, implement and maintain BMPs. These regulations were last amended in 2000. The major amendments incorporate the Federal Clean Water Act ''Phase II'' NPDES permit requirements for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities, codify PCSM requirements, including long-term operation and maintenance requirements of PCSM BMPs, include specific antidegradation implementation provisions, update agricultural planning and implementation requirements, update E&S control requirements and establish riparian buffer and riparian forest buffer provisions. Additional revisions were made to clarify requirements and address identified gaps in regulatory authority important to protecting the waters of this Commonwealth.

 Public and advisory committee participation played a substantial role in shaping the final form of this final-form rulemaking. During the 90-day public comment period, the Board heard from over 1,300 commentators. This includes citizens (86%), environmental groups, nongovernmental groups and academia (3%), industry (8%), government (Federal, State agencies, municipalities and conservation districts (CD)) (3%), State legislators (31 legislators from the House and Senate) and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).

 After review of the comments, the Department met with the legislative committees, numerous stakeholder representatives, the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and various technical experts. The Department met with the Agricultural Advisory Board on February 17, 2010, to summarize the revisions being considered for final-form rulemaking. The Department also met with the Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) on February 19, 2010, and again on March 17, 2010, to present the draft final-form rulemaking. After extensive discussion, WRAC voted to approve the final-form rulemaking subject to the Department clarifying several provisions of the final-form rulemaking.

 In response to comments, the input from advisories committees and IRRC, the changes to the final-form rulemaking include revisions to the following area: 1) definitions; 2) agriculture; 3) permit fees; 4) PCSM operation and maintenance; 5) antidegradation implementation; 6) riparian buffer requirements; and 7) permit-by-rule. Specifically, in § 102.1 (relating to definitions), several definitions were revised or deleted; the agricultural provisions in § 102.4(a) (relating to erosion and sediment control requirements) were revised and clarified; the permit fee was restructured to include a administrative fee and a fee based on acreage was added to § 102.6 (relating to permit applications and fees); PCSM provisions in § 102.8 (relating to PCSM requirements) regarding long-term operation and maintenance were consolidated into subsection (m) and clarified; § 102.14 (relating to riparian buffer requirements) was reorganized and refined, subsection (d) was added to address exemptions, subsection (e) was added to address antidegradation presumption and offset and trading; and proposed § 102.15 regarding permit-by-rule was withdrawn.

E. Summary of Comments and Responses on the Proposed Rulemaking and Changes to the Proposed Rulemaking

 In response to recommendations from commentators, several changes were made in the final-form rulemaking. A summary of the comments received and the changes made are listed by section and described as follows.

§ 102.1. Definitions.

 The following definitions were added to § 102.1 in the proposed rulemaking and retained in the final-form rulemaking: ''Act 167,'' ''Agricultural operation,'' ''Along,'' ''Intermittent stream,'' ''Normal pool elevation,'' ''Oil and gas activities,'' ''Perennial stream,'' ''Pollutant,'' ''Post construction stormwater,'' ''PCSM,'' ''Stormwater,'' ''Surface waters'' and ''Top of streambank.'' The definition of ''Riparian buffer,'' not included in the proposed rulemaking, was added to the final-form rulemaking.

 The following existing definitions in § 102.1 were amended in the proposed rulemaking and retained in the final-form rulemaking: ''Agricultural plowing or tilling activity,'' ''BMPs—Best management practices,'' ''County conservation district'' was changed to ''Conservation district,'' ''Conservation Plan,'' ''Earth disturbance activity,'' ''Erosion and Sediment Control Permit'' was changed to ''E&S Permit—Erosion and Sediment Control Permit,'' ''Erosion and Sediment Control Plan'' was changed to ''E&S Plan—Erosion and Sediment Control Plan,'' ''Municipality,'' ''NOI—Notice of Intent,'' ''NPDES—National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System,'' ''NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities,'' ''Operator,'' ''Person,'' ''Project site,'' ''Road maintenance activities,'' ''Sediment'' and ''Stabilization.''

 The following existing definitions were added or modified in proposed rulemaking and were further amended in the final-form rulemaking: ''ABACT—Antidegradation best available combination of technologies,'' ''Animal heavy use area,'' ''Nondischarge alternative,'' ''Notice of termination,'' ''PCSM Plan,'' ''PPC Plan—Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan,'' ''Riparian forest buffer,'' and ''Soil loss tolerance (T).''

 The following existing definitions in § 102.1 were deleted in the proposed rulemaking and in the final-form rulemaking: ''Collector,'' ''Dewatering zone'' and ''Diversion.''

 IRRC questioned the need, reasonableness and clarity of the following definitions: ''Agricultural plowing or tilling activity,'' ''Animal heavy use area,'' BMPs—Best management practices,'' ''Diversion,'' ''E&S Plan—Erosion and Sediment Control Plan,'' ''Intermittent stream,'' ''Licensed professional,'' ''Nondischarge alternative,'' ''Perennial stream,'' ''Point source,'' ''PPC Plan—Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan,'' ''Riparian forest buffer,'' ''Road maintenance activities'' and ''Surface waters.''

 The rationale for changes to definitions, as included in the final form rulemaking, is as follows.

 The definition of ''ABACT—Antidegradation best available combination of technologies'' was modified as follows: 1) to include the terms ''environmentally sound and cost effective'' as used in Chapter 93 (relating to water quality standards); and 2) to more clearly state the comparison of pre- to post earth disturbance activities regarding differences in the stormwater runoff rate, volume and quality. The changes were made based on comments received during the public comment period. The effect of the changes provides more clarity to the antidegradation requirements that apply under this chapter.

 The definition of ''Agricultural plowing or tilling activity'' was modified to clarify that the term ''no-till cropping methods'' is the practice of planting crops with minimal mechanical tillage. The changes were made based on comments received during the public comment period. The effect of the change is to provide clarity on no-till cropping methods.

 The definition of ''Animal heavy use area'' was modified to clarify that the term does not include entrances, pathways and walkways where animals are housed. The changes were made based on comments received during the public comment period. The effect of the change is to provide clarity on animal heavy use areas.

 The definition of ''Forest stewardship plan'' was deleted in this final-form rulemaking due to public comments.

 The definition of ''Intermittent stream'' was added to the proposed rulemaking and is consistent with the definition currently used in Chapter 92 (relating to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, monitoring and compliance). The PA Homebuilders were concerned that drainage ditches or swales that transport water during storm events may be interpreted as intermittent streams. It is not the intent of the Department to treat these storm conveyances as intermittent streams. The definition as written applies to those channels with substrate associated with flowing water. The word ''substrate'' used in the definition means the area of the stream base on which an aquatic organism lives and is a commonly used term. The language in the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking.

 The definition of ''K factor'' is not used in the final-form rulemaking and has been deleted from Annex A.

 A definition of ''Long-term operation and maintenance'' has been added in response to comments. The inclusion of this term and definition is necessary because it clarifies that long-term operation is the routine inspection, maintenance, repair or replacement of a BMP to ensure proper function for the duration of time that the BMP is needed.

 The definition of ''NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities'' been modified based on public comments. The amount of disturbed acreage has been changed to 1 acre or more of earth disturbance activities to be consistent with Federal requirements and the permit requirement section of this chapter.

 The definition of ''Nondischarge alternative'' has been modified to more clearly state the comparison of pre- to post earth disturbance activities regarding differences in the stormwater runoff rate, volume and quality, and to be consistent with the ''ABACT'' definition. The changes were made in response to public comments. The effect of the changes provides more clarity to the antidegradation requirements that apply under this chapter.

 The definition of ''Road maintenance activities'' has been modified in response to comments to include references to railroad right of way maintenance activities and in response to comments requesting clarity regarding what actions and procedures constitute road maintenance activities.

 The definition of ''Riparian buffer'' has been added and the term is defined as a BMP that includes an area of permanent vegetation along surface waters. The Board added the definition of ''Riparian buffer'' as it relates to amendments made to § 102.14, which provides an alternative to riparian forest buffer implementation in response to public comments.

 The definition of ''Riparian forest buffer'' has been modified to state that it is a type of riparian buffer. This change is in response to amendments made to § 102.14, which now provides an additional alternative to riparian forest buffer implementation in response to public comments.

§ 102.2. Scope and purpose.

 The proposed rulemaking expanded this section to reflect the inclusion of PCSM requirements. The language in the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking. IRRC suggested revisions to this section to clarify the scope of PCSM when the project is restored to preconstruction conditions. Section 102.2 (relating to scope and purpose) in the final-form rulemaking was not revised; however, § 102.8 regarding PCSM was revised in the final-form rulemaking to provide the clarity that IRRC and other commentators suggested.

§ 102.4. Erosion and sediment control requirements.

Subsection (a)—Earth disturbance activities regarding agricultural activities

 In the proposed rulemaking, this section was modified to require written E&S Plans for animal heavy use areas that disturb 5,000 square feet (464.5 meters) or more of land, in addition to agricultural plowing or tilling activities of that same size. The final-form rulemaking was modified to clarify that agricultural plowing or tilling activities and animal heavy use areas should be examined as two separate activities in calculating the threshold for the E&S Plan requirement under § 102.4, rather than combining them to determine whether they disturb 5,000 square feet (464.5 meters) or more of land. The Board received comments requesting clarification. IRRC asked the Board to explain the need to regulate animal heavy use areas and the reasonableness of this requirement. The final-form rulemaking was modified to clarify that written E&S Plans are required for both agricultural plowing and tilling activities and animal heavy use areas.

 The Board included these provisions to address sediment discharges from animal heavy use areas which are not currently regulated by other existing Department regulations. It is important to retain the animal heavy use area provisions to protect waters of this Commonwealth from continued sediment pollution from these activities. These provisions will also assist the Commonwealth in achieving Chesapeake Bay goals regarding sediment reductions through the requirements imposed in § 102.4.

 The Department's 2010 Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report lists agriculture as the second leading cause of impairment of streams in this Commonwealth. Agricultural animal heavy use areas are a significant source of this sediment and can negatively affect downstream uses. The agricultural E&S Plan is the most appropriate mechanism to address the control of accelerated erosion from these areas.

 Comments were received from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau concerning possible duplicative provisions in Chapter 102 regarding animal heavy use areas and Chapter 83 (relating to State Conservation Commission), regarding animal concentration areas. The Board believes that this final-form rulemaking is complimentary rather than duplicative to the current Chapter 83 nutrient management regulations in that reducing accelerated erosion (sediment) from animal heavy use areas under this chapter will also help to reduce nutrients attached to that sediment which is the focus of the Chapter 83 regulations. Also, the Chapter 83 and Chapter 102 regulations are implemented by the same local agency CDs.

 In § 102.4(a)(4), language was added to the proposed rulemaking to include cost-effective and reasonable BMPs in the E&S Plan to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation from agricultural plowing or tilling or animal heavy use areas. Also, language was added to the proposed rulemaking to state that the E&S Plan must limit soil loss from accelerated erosion to the soil loss tolerance (T) over the planned crop rotation. The Board received comments that supported implementing BMPs that minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation for agricultural plowing or tilling activities or animal heavy use areas. The language in the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking.

 The proposed rulemaking also stated in § 102.4(a)(4)(i) that additional BMPs are required when located within 100 feet of a river or perennial or intermittent stream on fields with less than 25% cover. Several commentators requested clarification on the type of cover. Therefore, in response to comments, the type of crop cover for fields with less than 25% cover was clarified in the final-form rulemaking as ''plant cover or crop residue'' cover.

 The proposed rulemaking stated in § 102.4(a)(5) that the E&S Plan must show the location of surface waters, field and property boundaries, structures, animal heavy use areas, roads and crossroads, BMPs and soil maps. The final-form rulemaking was revised to clarify that the E&S Plan must address ''surface waters of this Commonwealth.'' ''Waters of this Commonwealth'' had been proposed to be deleted; however, the Board received comments that supported using this wording. The existing reference to ''waters of this Commonwealth'' was retained in the final-form rulemaking as modified by the addition of the word ''surface'' so that it is clear that the E&S Plan must identify all surface waters of this Commonwealth rather than the more narrow list provided in the definition of ''Surface waters.'' Also, in § 102.4(a)(6) and (7) in the proposed rulemaking, an implementation schedule was added as well as the ability to utilize a conservation plan that identifies BMPs that minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation in the place of an E&S Plan. This language was retained in the final-form rulemaking.

Subsection (b)—Earth disturbance activities other than agricultural plowing or tilling or animal heavy use areas

 Minor revisions to § 102.4(b)(3) were made from the proposed rulemaking to the final-form rulemaking. The Board received comments stating that many E&S Plans are submitted to the Department and CDs that are administratively incomplete and that time and expense are wasted while permit review staff wait for additional information. The final-form rulemaking has been revised to add language regarding the training and experience of the person preparing the E&S Plan to the size and scope of the project being designed.

 Section 102.4(b)(4) in the proposed rulemaking included general guidelines for the planning and implementation of E&S control measures. IRRC and several commentators expressed concern about the ''protect, maintain, reclaim and restore'' language and recommended amending § 102.4(b)(4)(v). In response to comments, the Board removed this subparagraph from the final-form rulemaking. Amending this section does not relieve a person's responsibility to utilize BMPs that will ''protect, maintain, reclaim and restore,'' as this provision is also in the existing definition of ''BMPs—Best management practices'' in §§ 102.1 and 102.2(b) and § 102.11(a)(1) (relating to general requirements).

 In § 102.4(b)(5)(x), the Board revised the requirement from the current regulation to the proposed in response to industry concerns of the term ''measurable rainfall.'' The revision was made to replace ''measurable rainfall event'' with ''stormwater event.'' IRRC and other commentators stated that ''measurable rainfall'' is more easily understood and requested an explanation for the amendment. The Board utilized the term ''stormwater event'' because it provides clarity for situations where there is minimal precipitation or rainfall that does not result in runoff. The key word in the definition of ''Stormwater'' is runoff. The intent of the Board is to capture any event that generates runoff. The term ''measurable rainfall'' failed to include situations when there was no immediate or recent precipitation, but warmer temperatures caused melting of snow which results in a runoff condition.

 Identification of potential thermal impacts that may be created or result from earth disturbance activity was added to § 102.4(b)(5)(xiii) in the proposed rulemaking. IRRC recommended that the regulation clearly state what type of evaluation of thermal impacts would be acceptable. Commentators requested additional guidance regarding this evaluation. In response to comments, this subparagraph has been revised and clarified in the final-form rulemaking. The Department will also provide additional guidance through outreach, trainings and the Erosion and Sediment Control Manual Document Number 363-2134-008. Because each site is different, the design professional needs to have some flexibility to develop an appropriate response to thermal impact concerns. In addition to identifying the potential for thermal impacts, appropriate BMPs should be designed to avoid, minimize or mitigate those impacts.

 A requirement for the E&S Plan to be consistent with a PCSM Plan was added to § 102.4(b)(5)(xiv) in the proposed rulemaking. The language in the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking. The intent of this requirement is for the BMPs implemented as part of the E&S Plan during the temporary construction phase to easily transition with minimal disturbance into the BMPs that will be part of the PCSM Plan. Likewise, the E&S Plan should reflect consideration of the PCSM Plan. For example, areas to be utilized for infiltration should be protected from compaction during construction, which should be noted in the E&S Plan.

 A provision for identifying existing and proposed riparian forest buffers in the E&S Plan was added to § 102.4(b)(5)(xv) in the proposed rulemaking. The Board has made minor modifications in response to comments.

 Section 102.4(b)(6) of the proposed rulemaking included antidegradation implementation provisions. This final-form rulemaking specifically incorporates antidegradation implementation requirements as a result of several Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) cases. The antidegradation provisions primarily in revised §§ 102.4(b)(6) and 102.8(h) and in the definitions of ''ABACT'' and ''Nondischarge alternative'' in § 102.1.

 By way of background regarding inclusion of antidegradation implementation requirements, the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C.A. §§ 1251—1376) requires states to develop and implement ''antidegradation'' requirements, which are found in Chapter 93. In the EHB decisions in Zlomsowitch v. DEP, 2004 EHB 756, Blue Mountain Preservation Association v. DEP and Alpine Rose Resorts, 2006 EHB 589, and Crum Creek Neighbors v. DEP and Pulte Homes of PA, LP, EHB Docket No. 2007-287-L, October 22, 2009 Adjudication, the EHB overturned the Department's current implementation of antidegradation requirements in the NPDES permits issued under this chapter. The cases confirm that Chapter 102 did not currently provide an adequate regulatory framework for the compliance with Chapter 93.

 Under the current regulations, the Department and regulated community have unsuccessfully tried to reconcile the Chapter 102 regulatory program with antidegradation implementation requirements and specifically the alternatives analysis process in § 93.4c(b) (relating to implementation of antidegradation requirements). Section 93.4c(b) utilizes language and approaches based upon NPDES programs that regulate continuous flow such as traditional industrial discharges flowing out of pipes, whereas the discharges regulated under Chapter 102 involve wet weather driven, primarily overland diffuse runoff that is controlled with BMPs rather than numeric effluent limitations. Further, the § 93.4c(b) stated preference for ''nondischarge'' alternatives is confusing and when applied literally in the stormwater context is problematic. A literal read of this section could require no discharge from a site which would in fact be inimical to the health of waters of this Commonwealth. Simply put, there are existing stormwater discharges that occur at sites before any earth disturbance activity occurs that are the basis of the hydrologic cycle on which stream baseflow and quality is dependent. To protect and maintain waters of this Commonwealth, this preexisting stormwater discharge will be maintained. The cornerstone of antidegradation then in this program is the preservation of that existing stormwater regime. The Department has therefore included specific antidegradation implementation provisions in the proposed rulemaking to provide the missing regulatory framework that is needed for appropriate evaluation of compliance with the antidegradation requirements for this program.

 A number of members of the regulated community specifically requested that the Board clarify the antidegradation implementation provisions in the final-form rulemaking to more definitively link the antidegradation implementation requirements included in this final-form rulemaking with Chapter 93 and to provide a framework that can be relied upon to demonstrate compliance with antidegradation requirements therein. The revisions in the final-form rulemaking to these sections have provided this additional clarification.

 An important aspect of the antidegradation provisions included in this final-form rulemaking and regarding § 102.4(b)(6) are the definitions of ''ABACT'' and ''Nondischarge alternative.'' These terms were defined in response to suggestions of the members of WRAC during the development of the regulation prior to the proposed rulemaking. These terms are defined specifically for the purposes of this chapter and articulate the performance standards to be used for purposes of the comparison of preconstruction stormwater discharges to post construction stormwater discharges. Importantly, the nondischarge alternative in this program does not equal to discharge, but rather equals no net change from preconstruction discharge volume, rate and water quality, and recognizes the need to preserve the preexisting stormwater discharges to protect and maintain waters of this Commonwealth. The 2-year/24-hour storm event is the storm event to be utilized to demonstrate antidegradation compliance. See the discussion regarding this storm event in response to § 102.8.

 The new Federal effluent limitation guidelines (ELG) also references the 2-year/24-hour event as the design storm. In addition, the key components of the EPA's ELG are non-numeric effluent limitations in the form of BMPs that require persons engaged in construction activities to minimize discharges of pollutants in stormwater discharges using appropriate E&S controls and stormwater control measures that reflect best engineering practices.

 A requirement was added in § 102.4(b)(8) in the proposed rulemaking that stated that the E&S Plan, inspection reports and monitoring reports should be available for review at the project site. IRRC asked for an explanation of why records are needed onsite and to consider allowing electronic records offsite. The language in the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking. Further clarification has been provided in the comment and response document that inspection reports and monitoring records may be maintained electronically as long as a copy can be produced when requested by the Department or the CD. Records are needed onsite to implement Federal requirements of routine monitoring and reporting. Also, the Department must be able to determine that the permittee is in compliance.

§ 102.5. Permit requirements.

 In the proposed rulemaking, § 102.5(a)(1) (relating to permit requirements) included language requiring an NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities for certain earth disturbance activities between 1 acre and 5 acres with a point source discharge to a surface water of this Commonwealth. Section 102.5(a)(2) of the proposed rulemaking included language that retained the requirement for an NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities for certain earth disturbance activities 5 acres or greater. EPA Region 3 required, and several commentators requested, that this subsection be revised to require an NPDES permit for any earth disturbance activity that disturbs 1 acre or greater, regardless of whether the activity resulted in a point source discharge to a surface water.

 In § 102.5(a)(3) of the proposed rulemaking, the Board added language regarding compliance with the antidegradation requirements in Chapter 93 for projects that require NPDES permit coverage when the earth disturbance activity is proposed to be located in a special protection watershed. In response to public comments and comments from IRRC regarding confusion by the building industry over whether a permit is required and if so what type of permit is required, the Board revised the final-form rulemaking by identifying that the specified earth disturbance activities disturbing 1 acre or more require an NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities, and clarifying that the antidegradation requirements regarding NPDES Permits for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities are established in §§ 102.4(b)(6) and 102.8(h). IRRC also questioned why the exemptions at the beginning of subsections (a)(l) and (2) and (d) in the proposed rulemaking do not include the oil and gas related earth disturbance activities. In the comment and response document, the Department noted that oil and gas activities are exempt from NPDES permitting requirements but still must meet State water quality requirements. Section 102.5(c) states that ''A person proposing oil and gas activities that involve 5 acres (2 hectares) or more of earth disturbance over the life of the project shall obtain an E&S Permit under this chapter prior to beginning the earth disturbance activity.''

 In § 102.5(b) of the proposed rulemaking, the Board maintained existing language except for a minor editorial revision. The Board received comments recommending that the permit acreage threshold be reduced to 5 acres for timber harvesting and road maintenance activities and other comments requesting that the Board retain the existing threshold of 25 acres for the same activities. The Board evaluated the comments and determined that the proposed language including the acreage threshold for requiring a permit would be retained.

 Section 102.5(c) of the proposed rulemaking maintained existing language but restructured the location of this requirement to § 102.5(g). The proposed language for subsection (c) established the E&S Permit requirement for persons proposing an earth disturbance activity regarding oil and gas development that involves 5 acres or greater of earth disturbance activity. This regulatory requirement is a codification of existing practices and permit requirements in response to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C.A. §§ 15801—16524) and the subsequent Federal rule promulgated by the EPA exempting oil and gas activities from NPDES Permits for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities. The Board retained the proposed language in the final-form rulemaking.

 Section 102.5(d) of the proposed rulemaking clarified that earth disturbance activities, other than earth disturbances regarding agricultural plowing and tilling, animal heavy use areas, timber harvesting or road maintenance activities, and activities requiring permit coverage under previous § 102.5(a)—(c), would require an E&S Permit when there is an earth disturbances of 5 acres or more. The Board retained the proposed language in the final-form rulemaking.

 New § 102.5(e) required a preconstruction meeting for activities authorized by a permit under this chapter, unless it is determined by the Department or CD that a preconstruction meeting is not necessary and the permittee is notified in writing. The proposed subsection also identified specific entities that are required to attend the meeting. Comments from IRRC and other commentators on this subsection recommended clarifications regarding the entities required, time period for the notice, whether Department or CD staff attendance is mandatory and whether this requirement may overload Department staff and delay projects. The Board clarified the final-form rulemaking by adding language that attendance at the preconstruction meeting is required by specific entities that have a role in the design or implementation of the E&S or PCSM Plans. Additional clarification was provided by requiring the permittee to invite the Department or CD to attend the preconstruction meeting and requiring at least 7 days notice of the preconstruction meeting to invited attendees. The proposed language was retained requiring the Department or CD to provide written notice to the permittee that a preconstruction meeting will not be required.

 New § 102.5(f) provided that a person conducting earth disturbance activities that requires a permit under this chapter shall ensure implementation and long-term operation and maintenance of a PCSM Plan. The majority of comments received regarding this subsection requested clarification on the responsibility of the permittee for long-term operation and maintenance. IRRC also questioned who specifically is ''a person proposing earth disturbance activity.'' The Board believes that § 102.1 clearly states the definitions of ''person'' and ''earth disturbance activity.'' In addition, the permittee designates who is responsible for the PCSM BMPs, under § 102.7 (relating to permit termination) and § 102.8(f)(11), ''Identification of the persons responsible for long-term operation and maintenance of the PCSM BMPs.'' IRRC also commented that this provision is vague and potentially unreasonable and cost prohibitive. The Board revised the final-form rulemaking by deleting the reference to the long-term operation and maintenance requirement in this subsection. Additional clarifying language regarding these issues has been consolidated in § 102.8(m) of the revised final-form rulemaking.

 Section 102.5(g) of the proposed rulemaking maintained existing language formerly in § 102.5(c), which was moved to § 102.5(g). The majority of comments received regarding this subsection requested clarification on the applicability in relationship with other permits under Chapter 92 and the authorizations needed. The Board has not revised this subsection in the final-form rulemaking. A comprehensive list of Department permits can be provided in guidance. The requirements in this final-form rulemaking are intended to reference both Chapters 92 and 102 when these requirements are included in other Department regulations and permit requirements that are reviewed during the other Department permit application process. As a result, these other Department permits provide sufficient authorization, so a separate authorization under permits identified in this chapter would be duplicative.

 New § 102.5(h) specifies that when a person other than the permittee is an operator, the other operator is required to become a copermittee under this chapter. A few commentators made some minor requests for clarification regarding application of this requirement. Revisions were not made in the final-form rulemaking as a result of the comments, but clarification has been provided in the comment and response document.

 New § 102.5(i) provides that a separate NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated With Construction Activities is not required for activities covered by a Clean Water Act Section 404 dredge and fill permit. IRRC and other commentators supported this provision but requested further clarification on the applicability in context of various scenarios that may occur. EPA Region 3 also requested clarification. As a result, the Department provided clarifying responses to the comments in the comment and response document included as part of this final-form rulemaking. When an activity is authorized under Chapter 404 of the Clean Water Act for example, that activity does not require a separate E&S or NPDES permit for the activity covered by the 404 Permit so long as the project is a single and complete project, includes an E&S Plan meeting the requirements of this chapter and the earth disturbance work does not exceed the footprint of the activities authorized by the 404 Permit. In addition, the E&S Plan would also be approved as part of the 401 Water Quality Certification. Other activities would need E&S or NPDES permit coverage. Revisions to this subsection in the final-form rulemaking were not necessary.

 Section 102.5(j) of the proposed rulemaking maintained existing language formerly located in § 102.5(d). The Board received a few comments questioning the permit exemption for agricultural plowing and tilling activities or animal heavy use areas. The Board retained this language in the final-form rulemaking.

 Section 102.5(k) of the proposed rulemaking maintained existing language formerly in § 102.5(e). Revisions were not made to the final-form rulemaking.

 Section 102.5(l) was added in the final-form rulemaking to identify requirements for a Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency (PPC) Plan, moved from § 102.6(a)(3) of the proposed rulemaking. The Board received comments from IRRC and the public that the PPC Plan requirement was more appropriate to have in this section (as a requirement of the permit) rather than § 102.6, regarding permit applications and fees.

 Section 102.5(m) was added in this final-form rulemaking in response to recommendations of commentators. This subsection authorizes the Department to issue general permits (GP) for activities not subject to NPDES requirements and sets forth the process for issuance under this chapter.

§ 102.6. Permit applications and fees.

 Section 102.6(a) of the proposed rulemaking added language for this subsection identifying the appropriate permit references, PCSM references, changing in subsection (a)(2) to the program name from the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) to Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP), and adding subsection (a)(3) referencing requirements to PPC Plans. IRRC and members of the public commented that the Board should explain why this amendment included the reference to PNHP, why PNHP is the best resource for this information and questioning whether the inclusion of the PPC Plan requirement is not appropriate as an application requirement. The inclusion of PNDI, now PNHP, is an existing requirement to which the Board only proposed minor modifications including updating the program name. The Department utilizes PNHP because it is a comprehensive database of resource information that both the public and resource agencies can access for threatened and endangered species and critical habitat for those species. It is the only known database of this type for use in this Commonwealth and is the one recognized by the resource agencies. This is particularly useful for the regulated community in that they can identify potential species or habitat conflicts that shall be minimized or avoided prior to final plan development and permit application. There were not revisions to § 102.6(a) in the final-form rulemaking and minor revisions were made to the remainder of the subsection in response to comments. Section 102.6(a)(1) in the final-form rulemaking was revised to remove the reference to the permit-by-rule registration of coverage to reflect removal of that section of the regulations in the final-form rulemaking. A minor grammatical revision was made to § 102.6(a)(2). In response to comments regarding § 102.6(a)(3), the proposed rulemaking was revised in the final-form rulemaking by moving the location of this requirement to permit requirements in § 102.5(l).

 In § 102.6(b) of the proposed rulemaking, new language was added that identified specific permit fees for the various GPs and individual permits (IP) required under this chapter. Also, language was added that would require the Department to review the adequacy of the fees established at least once every 3 years and report their findings to the Board. Additionally, a reference to the authority of CDs under the Conservation District Law (3 P. S. §§ 849—864) to charge additional fees was added in this subsection. Some of the public comments received by the Board supported the fee increases while other commentators and IRRC indicated that the fees were excessive and recommended that an explanation should be provided on how the fees were calculated and that a tiered approach based on the size of the earth disturbance be established.

 In response to the comments received, the Board revised the proposed permit fees in the final-form rulemaking to establish an administrative filing or ''base'' fee dependent on the type of permit needed ($500 for a GP and $1,500 for an IP) and a tiered fee approach based on acreage ($100 for each disturbed acre). The acreage fee is to be added to the base fee for projects of 1 acre or greater of earth disturbance activity that requires permit coverage. This approach would allow smaller projects to pay a lower fee than larger projects, which can also correspond to the complexity and time investment needed to review the permit application. This fee structure is based upon a cost analysis using estimated program costs for the Department and CDs to implement the program, based upon a review of past permits issued between 2006 and 2008. Amendments to Chapter 92 in 1999 and Chapter 102 in 2000 included modifications to permit fees, but these were administrative filing fees and did not cover cost of program operations. The proposed and final-form rulemakings were the first effort by the Department to cover the Chapter 102 program costs through permit fees. The Department completed an evaluation of program costs and estimated revenue as part of this final-form rulemaking package.

 In § 102.6(b)(2) of the proposed rulemaking, language was added that would require the Department to review the adequacy of the fees established at least once every 3 years and report the findings to the Board. Comments received on draft § 102.6(b)(2) questioned what criteria would be used for the evaluation of the fees and requested clarification how the Department will use the criteria to determine the adequacy of the fees. Revisions were not made to the final-form rulemaking. However, clarification is provided in the comment and response document developed for this final-form rulemaking.

 Section 102.6(b)(2) was also revised in response to comments from CDs to clarify that the fees in this section are all ''administrative'' fees. How the fees will be dispersed between the Department and CDs will be outlined in guidance or through the delegation agreements.

 In § 102.6(b)(3) of the proposed rulemaking, new language was added that identified that CDs may charge additional fees in accordance with the Conservation District Law. A few public comments were received that requested clarification from the Board on whether the fees are in addition to the fees established in § 102.6(b)(1). The Board confirms that the fees are additional to the fees of the referenced section. The amount of these CD fees may vary between CDs and is based upon the additional costs to the district to implement the previous program requirements and beyond the fee established by the Board. CD authority to charge additional fees under the Conservation District Law is referenced to support this requirement. Revisions were not made to the final-form rulemaking. However, the Board provided clarification in the comment and response document.

 Section 102.6(b)(4) was added to the final-form rulemaking in response to recommendations of commentators. This paragraph provides a fee exemption for Federal or State agencies or independent State commissions that shall enter into agreements with the Department and when the agreement identifies that the agency will provide funding to the Department for program support.

 Section 102.6(c)(2) of the proposed rulemaking added new language identifying the expectations for a complete application or notice of intent, and what actions the Department or CD would take regarding incomplete submissions. IRRC recommended that a time frame be included for the Department to determine that an application is complete. IRRC also recommend that the regulation should specify what happens if the Department does not meet that time frame. Additionally, in the proposed rulemaking, § 102.6(c)(2) only authorized the Department to make the completeness determination. In their comments, IRRC asked whether this function may also be performed by a CD. The Board amended this section to clarify that CDs do perform this function as well. The Board does not agree that specific time frames for completeness determinations by the Department or CD need to be added to this subsection. In the comment and response document, the Department refers to the money-back guarantee policy and the policy with CDs as part of a delegation agreement. Both of these documents establish time frames for various items during the application review process including administrative completeness, technical and decision reviews. The Board added § 102.6(c) to address an ongoing problem with applicants not responding to requests for additional information and extending the time it takes to make a timely decision on the application. This lack of response has led to applications being open or under review for extensive periods of time. Adding this requirement to the regulation authorizes the Department or CD to close a permit application after 60 days of nonresponse by the applicant. The Board understands that there may be some instances when an applicant may need additional time to provide the requested information.

 In response, the final-form rulemaking allows for a request of extension. The Board clarified in the final-form rulemaking that the CDs are also authorized to perform this function.

 Section 102.6(c)(3) of the proposed rulemaking included new language identifying that the fees associated with returned or withdrawn applications would not be refunded. In response to public comment, the Board revised the final-form rulemaking to clarify that this requirement refers to a withdrawn application determination under § 102.6(c)(2).

§ 102.7. Permit termination.

 The proposed rulemaking added new language requiring the identification of the person responsible for operation and maintenance of the PCSM BMPs and PCSM Plans and clarified the obligation of the permittee to operate and maintain the PCSM BMPs and PCSM Plan until the Notice of Termination is acknowledged. Commentators requested clarification with regard to the permittees and co-permittees responsibility for long-term operation and maintenance of PCSM BMPs. In addition, IRRC and several commentators recommended that a time limit be added for the Department or CD to respond to the submission of a Notice of Termination. In response to these comments, in the final-form rulemaking, the Board revised this section to clarify that upon permanent site stabilization and installation of BMPs in accordance with E&S and PCSM Plan requirements, the permittee or co-permittee shall submit a Notice of Termination that identifies the person who agreed to be responsible for the long-term operation and maintenance and added a time limit of 30-days for the Department or CD to conduct a final inspection and approve or deny the request for termination of the permit.

§ 102.8. PCSM requirements.

 One of the major substantive additions to this chapter in the proposed rulemaking was the inclusion of post construction stormwater discharge requirements that are detailed in § 102.8. The proposed rulemaking established the requirements for PCSM planning utilizing a structure that parallels the E&S planning requirements in § 102.4(b). The provisions in the proposed rulemaking are a codification and refinement of the existing PCSM requirements that the Department has implemented since 2002.

 Based upon public comments received, this section has been revised and clarified in the final-form rulemaking. In the final-form rulemaking, the Board added headers for each subsection and clarified requirements for roadways or rail lines, and PCSM implementation for special protection waters. Additionally, in the final-form rulemaking, the Board also consolidated the long-term operation and maintenance requirements into one subsection.

 The inclusion of the PCSM requirements in this final-form rulemaking codifies the PCSM requirements the Department has been implementing since 2002 to address EHB decisions discussed as follows and to facilitate implementation of the Federal stormwater construction and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) NPDES requirements regarding PCSM.

 Since 2002, the Department has required applicants for NPDES Permits for Discharges Associated With Construction Activities to address post construction stormwater discharges and, in addition to E&S Plans, to develop and implement a PCSM Plan. Since 2002, a PCSM Plan must include information to demonstrate compliance with the antidegradation requirements in Chapter 93, including a comparison of preconstruction stormwater runoff to post construction stormwater runoff of the 2-year/24-hour storm event, and a description of the PCSM BMPs that will be utilized to prevent pollution. See Comprehensive Stormwater Management Policy (DEP No. 392-0300-002). In 2006, the Department finalized the Pennsylvania Stormwater BMP Manual (DEP No. 363-0300-002), which provided technical guidance and standardized methodologies. Section 102.8 codifies the existing specifications and performance standards that have been relied on and proven in the development of PCSM Plans in this Commonwealth since that time. These standards satisfy State law that has evolved through decisions of the EHB and also facilitate compliance with the related Federal NPDES MS4 programs.

 This inclusion of PCSM requirements is in part a response to EHB decisions. In 1999, the EHB ruled that ''post construction'' stormwater was potential pollution which the Department should evaluate along with the stormwater discharges that occur during construction activities. Valley Creek Coalition v. DEP, 1999 EHB 935. This holding has been confirmed in subsequent decisions including Blue Mountain Preservation Association v. DEP and Alpine Rose Resorts, 2006 EHB 589 and Crum Creek Neighbors v. DEP and Pulte Homes of PA, LP, EHB Docket No. 2007-287-L, October 22, 2009 Adjudication. Today, PCSM requirements are an established counterpart to the activities already expressly regulated under this chapter. The amendments regarding PCSM will provide needed regulatory framework and clarity for the administration of, compliance with and the legal evaluation of the PCSM requirements.

 Section 102.8(a) in the proposed rulemaking established who is required to develop, implement, operate and maintain a written PCSM Plan. IRRC and other commentators expressed concern that the wording was too broad. The Board did not amend this section in the final-form rulemaking but did amend § 102.8(n). This revision provides that for minor projects when there is little or no change in the runoff characteristics from the site, the PCSM Plan can be brief, only be a sentence or two, and still meet the requirements of § 102.8(a). Also, the term ''NPDES'' has been removed from the final-form rulemaking to allow inclusion of a PCSM Plan for permits other than NPDES.

 A number of commentators, notably the builders and the House legislative committee members, requested that the final-form rulemaking include a grandfathering provision for NPDES permit renewals. The builders are particularly concerned about having to revise PCSM Plans for permitted projects that require renewal. In response to these comments, § 102.8(a) has been amended in the final-form rulemaking to provide that ''a person conducting earth disturbance activities under a permit issued before November 19, 2010, and renewed prior to January 1, 2013, shall implement, operate and maintain the PCSM requirements in accordance with the terms and conditions of the existing permit. After January 1, 2013, the renewal of a permit issued before November 19, 2010, shall comply with the requirements of this section.''

 General requirements for planning and design of PCSM were included in § 102.8(b)(1)—(8) of the proposed rulemaking. Commentators and IRRC expressed concern about the vagueness of terms ''minimize'' and ''maximize'' as they relate to planning and design. The final-form rulemaking retained the language from the proposed rulemaking and additional minor edits were made for clarification. These terms have been historically utilized in Chapter 102 to guide the design of projects that vary in size, scope and other details. The Board utilized these words to provide flexibility to the applicant when designing the BMPs for their projects.

 IRRC and several commentators expressed concern about the ''protect, maintain, reclaim and restore'' language and recommended amending § 102.8(b)(9). In response to comments, the Board deleted this subsection from the final-form rulemaking. Amending this section does not negate a person's responsibility to utilize BMPs that will ''protect, maintain, reclaim and restore'' as this provision is also in the existing definition of ''BMPs—Best management practices'' in §§ 102.1, 102.2(b) and 102.11(a)(1).

 The proposed rulemaking included § 102.8(c) and (d) to ensure consistency with the E&S Plan and to specify that the PCSM Plan shall be a separate plan unless otherwise approved by the Department. The language in the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking. The intent of this requirement is for the BMPs implemented as part of the E&S Plan during the temporary construction phase to easily transition with minimal disturbance into the BMPs that will be part of the PCSM Plan. Likewise, the E&S Plan should reflect consideration of the PCSM Plan. For example, areas to be utilized for post construction infiltration should be protected from compaction during construction, which should be noted in the E&S Plan.

 In the proposed rulemaking, § 102.8(e) listed the requirements of the individual tasked with preparing the PCSM Plan. IRRC commented that this section did not impose a definable level of expertise and that the Board should delete the subsection or replace it with specific credentials. The language in § 102.8(e) is similar to the E&S portion of § 102.4(b)(3) and has been in use for many years. More specific credentials may exclude designers who are not licensed by the Commonwealth and potentially increase development costs. The language was retained in the final-form rulemaking, but the Board did include additional language to qualify that the level of expertise needed is relative to the size and scope of the project being designed.

 Section 102.8(f) listed PCSM Plan requirements in the proposed rulemaking. IRRC and several commentators expressed concern about ''other supporting documentation'' language, and requested that the Board provide more detail. That language has been removed from the final-form rulemaking and minor edits were made to provide clarity.

 IRRC and commentators requested additional clarity and guidance on the requirements in § 102.8(f)(1)—(10). Many of the requirements found in these paragraphs are currently required including the listing of soil types/limitations and plan calculations. The PCSM Plan must identify the BMPs used and the appropriate calculations that demonstrate that the BMPs will perform under those conditions. The language from the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking with minor edits made for clarification.

 In the proposed rulemaking, § 102.8(g)(1) and (2) listed the stormwater analysis required in the PCSM Plan. IRRC, PennDOT and several commentators expressed concern with the costs for this analysis and asked the Board to consider amendments to decrease costs and assist in compliance. The Board revised these sections in the final-form rulemaking in response to comments. Allowance for an alternative approach to PCSM methodologies was added in the final-form rulemaking for use when there are public health and safety limitations or existing site conditions. Specifically, in the final-form rulemaking, additional language has been added in § 102.8(g)(2)(iii) and (iv) and (3)(iii) to allow other approaches that may be more protective or that will maintain and protect existing water quality. Also, references to pipelines or other utilities that restore or reclaim a site back to natural conditions have been added to the final-form rulemaking. Section 102.8(g)(2)(ii) and (iii) have been revised in the final-form rulemaking to provide more clarity and to provide more flexibility. The intent in these subparagraphs is to require stormwater controls on property that was previously developed with little or no stormwater management. Also in response to comments, § 102.8(g)(2)(i), (ii) and (iii) were modified in the final-form rulemaking to exclude repair or reconstruction of roadways or rail lines, and to consider public health, safety and environmental limitations.

 Regardless of the type of earth disturbance activity that occur, the impervious surfaces, the changes in vegetation and the soil compaction associated with that activity will result in increases in runoff volume and rate. When the site is cleared of existing vegetation, graded and recompacted, it produces an increase in stormwater volume and rate. If the original vegetation were replaced with natural vegetation, the stormwater runoff characteristics would be considered to be equivalent to the original natural vegetation. The volume control, water quality and rate requirements focus on providing stream channel protection and protection from the frequent rainfalls that comprise a major portion of stormwater runoff events in any part of this Commonwealth. On the basis of these factors, the 2-year/24-hour storm event has been chosen as the stormwater management design storm for volume control.

 A volume control requirement is essential to mitigate the consequences of increased stormwater runoff. To accomplish this, the volume reduction BMP must do the following: protect stream channel morphology; maintain groundwater recharge; prevent downstream increases in flooding; and replicate the natural hydrology onsite before development to the greatest extent possible.

 The volume control and water quality requirements included in the proposed rulemaking and retained in the final-form rulemaking are necessary to maintain and protect natural hydrology including velocity, current, cross-section, runoff volume, infiltration volume and aquifer recharge volume. These requirements will sustain stream base flow and prevent increased frequency of damaging bank full flows. The requirements will also help prevent increases in peak runoff rates for larger events (2-year—100-year) on both a site-by-site and watershed basis. A volume control requirement is protective of water quality and also provides the benefits listed as follows.

Protect stream channel morphology. Increased volume of stormwater runoff results in an increase in the frequency of bank full or near bank full flow conditions in stream channels. The increased presence of high flow conditions in riparian sections has a detrimental effect on stream shaping, including stream channel and overall stream morphology. Stream bank erosion is greatly accelerated. As banks are eroded and undercut and as stream channels are gouged and straightened; meanders, pools, riffles and other essential elements of habitat are lost or greatly diminished. Increases in impervious surfaces can cause the natural bankfull stream flows to occur more often. The final-form rulemaking includes a combination of volume reduction, water quality and peak rate controls to reduce the bankfull flow occurrences.

Maintain groundwater recharge. Over 80% of the annual precipitation infiltrates into the soil mantle in watersheds in this Commonwealth under natural conditions. More than half of this is taken up by vegetation and transpired. Part of this infiltrated water moves down gradient to emerge as springs and seeps, feeding local wetlands and surface streams. The rest enters deep groundwater aquifers that supply drinking water wells. Without groundwater recharge, surface stream flows and supplies of groundwater for wells will diminish or disappear during drought periods. Certain land areas recharge more groundwater than others; therefore, protecting the critical recharge areas is important in maintaining the water cycle's balance.

Prevent downstream increases in runoff volume and flooding. Although site-based rate control measures may help protect the area immediately downstream from a development site, the increased volume of stormwater runoff and the prolonged duration of runoff from multiple development sites can increase peak flow rates and duration of flooding from stormwater runoff caused by relatively small rain events. Replicating predevelopment stormwater runoff volumes for small storms, up to and including the 2-year/24-hour storm event, will substantially reduce the problem of frequent flooding that plague many communities. Although control of runoff volumes from small storms almost always helps to reduce flooding during large storms, additional measures are necessary to provide adequate relief from the serious flooding that occurs during these events.

Replicate the surface water hydrology on-site before development. The objective for stormwater management is to develop a program that replicates the natural hydrologic conditions of watersheds to the maximum extent practicable. However, the very process of clearing the existing vegetation from the site removes the single largest component of the natural hydrologic regime, evapotranspiration (ET). Unless the ET component is replaced, the runoff increase will be substantial. Several BMPs, such as riparian buffers, riparian forest buffers, tree planting, infiltration, vegetated roof systems and rain gardens, are critical to adequate stormwater management because they serve to replace a portion of the ET and other functions.

 The scientific basis for using a 2-year/24-hour storm event is as follows:

 • The 2-year/24-hour event provides stream channel protection and water quality protection for the relatively frequent runoff events across this Commonwealth.

 • Volume reduction BMPs based on this standard will provide a storage capacity to help reduce the increase in peak flow rates for larger runoff events.

 • In a natural stream system in mid-Atlantic states, the bank full stream flow occurs with a period of approximately 1 1/2 years. If the stormwater runoff volume from storms less than the 2-year/24-hour event are not increased, the fluvial impacts on streams will be reduced.

 • The 2-year/24-hour storm is well defined and data are readily accessible for use in stormwater management calculations.

 Research has demonstrated that bank-full stream flow typically occurs between the 1-year and the 2-year storm event (approximately the 1 1/2-year storm). Use of the 2-year/24-hour storm for purposes of comparing the pre- to poststormwater runoff provides a margin of safety with flows in an out of bank condition. The 2-year/24-hour storm can also be determined from data that is readily available. The final-form rulemaking retained the 2-year/24-hour storm as the storm event to be used for the pre- to postcomparison. The 2-year/24-hour storm is the event that should be utilized to meet antidegradation requirements (see definitions for ''nondischarge alternative'' and ''ABACT''). In addition, the new Federal ELG also supports the 2-year/24-hour event as the design storm. Additional discussion is provided in the comment and response document.

 On the other hand, it is considered unreasonable to design a PCSM BMP for volume or water quality for storm events greater than a 2-year/24-hour event. The stormwater runoff volume from the 100-year rainfall naturally is so large and insignificantly different when compared to developed areas that it is impractical to require management for volume or water quality. During extreme events, the runoff simply overwhelms the natural systems as well as human-made conveyance elements of pipes and stream channels. This, however, does not mean that these large storm events do not need to be managed. These large events need to be evaluated for peak rate control and implementation of flood control and retention BMPs.

 Peak rate control for large storms, up to the 100-year event, is essential to protect against immediate downstream erosion and flooding. Most designs achieve peak rate control through the use of detention structures. Peak rate control can also be integrated into volume control BMPs in ways that eliminate the need for additional peak rate control detention systems.

 Section 102.8(h) of the proposed rulemaking, which provided for the antidegradation implementation process for permit applications for projects in Special Protection Waters, is related to provisions in § 102.4(b)(6) and also relies on the definitions of ''ABACT'' and ''nondischarge alternative'' in § 102.1.

 The proposed rulemaking in § 102.8(i) listed requirements for a complaint or site inspection and § 102.8(j) listed requirements for PCSM reporting and recordkeeping. IRRC commented that § 102.8(i) was redundant with § 102.8(j) and recommended deleting the subsection. Subsections (i) and (j) cover two different situations. Subsection (i) requires that upon inspection the PCSM Plan may need to be submitted for review and approval. This is to ensure the activity is not causing stream degradation. Subsection (j) requires that the PCSM Plan and reports or records be available for review and inspection by the Department or CDs regardless of the existence of a complaint. The language from the proposed rulemaking was retained in the final-form rulemaking and headers for each subsection were added.

 Requirements for a licensed professional or designee to be present onsite during critical stages of construction were included in § 102.8(k) and (l) of the proposed rulemaking. IRRC and several commentators expressed concern about the cost of this requirement. The Board revised this subsection in the final-form rulemaking to provide clarity regarding what constitutes a critical stage of implementation. Subsection (k) lists several items considered critical stages and the licensed professional may determine whether additional activities are also critical so that the licensed professional should be onsite. The Board also amended this subsection to clarify that a CD as well as the Department can identify a critical stage of construction. This duty may only be performed by a CD with delegated authority for the PCSM portion of the program.

 The Board made clarifying revisions to these subsections in the final-form rulemaking to reflect the intent of the provision to ensure that the plan is implemented properly and the Department will be able to confirm proper implementation. IRRC requested clarification regarding when certification of the PCSM Plan and record drawings are required. Certification and record drawings are required for all permitted projects, depicting what was actually constructed onsite.

 Section 102.8(m) of the proposed rulemaking included a brief paragraph regarding the responsibility for long-term operation and maintenance. Several commentators requested better organization and clarification to the operation and maintenance requirements. In response to comments, § 102.8(m) has been revised in the final-form rulemaking to consolidate the requirements for operation and maintenance.

 IRRC commented that the Board should explain the need to regulate PCSM activity to such a degree as to require deed amendments and covenants and how this is a viable way to protect the environment given the inherent presumption that all landowners can afford to maintain and rectify any failure of a BMP for perpetuity. Subsection (m) requires the applicant to designate a responsible party for operation and maintenance. Under existing provisions in the act, absent a designation, the landowner could have sole responsibility if the permittee disappears or ceases to exist. The operation and maintenance requirement is for the PCSM BMPs that are installed as part of the PCSM management plan. For these BMPs to function efficiently, they must be maintained in perpetuity or until the land use changes. This maintenance responsibility would remain if the property transfers, therefore justifying the need for a covenant that runs with the land.

 In response to comments, the Board clarified the requirements in § 102.8(n) regarding regulated activities that require a site restoration or reclamation plan. When a site is fully restored or reclaimed, or the permitted activity involves earth disturbance of less than 1 acre, the obligation of long-term PCSM operation and management may not be necessary. The revisions to the final-form rulemaking were included for this reason. The obligation for long-term operation and maintenance has been met if the site is restored and there are no permanent structures or impervious surfaces.

§ 102.11. General requirements.

 This section was revised in the proposed rulemaking to include several new provisions regarding the PCSM and riparian forest buffer BMP and design standards.

 Section 102.11(a)(2) was added to the proposed rulemaking to provide reference to the Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual (Doc. No. 363-0300-002) for assistance in complying with § 102.8 PCSM requirements and other references to PCSM.

 Section 102.11(a)(3) was added to the proposed rulemaking to provide reference to the Riparian Forest Buffer Guidance (Doc. No. 394-5600-001) for assistance in complying with § 102.14 riparian buffer requirements.

 Section 102.11(a)(4) was added in the final-form rulemaking to provide reference to the Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Environmental Emergency Response Plans (Doc. No. 400-2200-001) in response to public comments requesting clarification and a reference to guidelines and requirements related to PPC Plans.

 Section 102.11(c) was added to the final-form rulemaking to incorporate by reference the Federal ELG and standards regarding NPDES permits for construction activities recently passed by the EPA. IRRC requested that specific language be used to cite this incorporation and the language in the final-form rulemaking reflect their comments.

 Section 102.11(d) was added to the final-form rulemaking to provide that the effective date of this final-form rulemaking is 90 days after the publication Pennsylvania Bulletin.

§ 102.14. Riparian buffer requirements.

 As a threshold matter, IRRC questioned why riparian forest buffers were included in this regulation. Staff of the Department has evaluated extensive research and investigations regarding riparian buffers. This information is included in this section, as well as Section F of this preamble.

 Land development activities change natural features and alter stormwater runoff characteristics. The resulting alterations of stormwater runoff volume, rate and water quality can cause stream bank scour, stream destabilization, sedimentation, reductions in groundwater recharge and base flow, localized flooding, habitat modification and water quality and quantity impairment, which constitute pollution as that term is defined in section 1 of the act (35 P. S. § 691.1). Riparian buffers play a vital role in mitigating the effects of stormwater runoff from land development activities.

 Riparian buffers are useful in mitigating or controlling point and nonpoint source pollution by both keeping the pollutants out of the waterbody and increasing the level of instream pollution processing. Used as a component of an integrated management system including nutrient management along with E&S control practices, riparian buffers can produce a number of beneficial effects on the quality of water resources. Riparian buffers can be effective in removing excess nutrients and sediment from surface runoff and shallow groundwater, stabilizing streambanks and shading streams and rivers to optimize light and temperature conditions for aquatic plants and animals. Riparian buffers provide significant flood attenuation and storage functions within the watershed. They prevent pollution both during and after earth disturbance activities and provide natural, long-term sustainability for aquatic resource protection and water quality enhancement.

 A riparian forest buffer is a specialized type of riparian buffer. Scientific literature supports the riparian forest buffer (with stormwater entering the buffer as sheet flow or shallow concentrated flow) as the only BMP that can do all of the following: capture and hold stormwater runoff from the majority of storms in this Commonwealth in a given year; infiltrate most of that water or transport it, or both, as shallow flow through the forest buffer soils where contaminate uptake and processing occurs; release excess storm flow evenly further processing dissolved and particulate substances associated with it; sequester carbon at significant levels; and improve the health of the stream and increase its capacity to process organic matter and nutrients generated on the site or upstream of the site.

 The PCSM provisions, to a large extent, are a codification of the existing program in this Commonwealth mandated by Federal requirements as well as adverse case law. In administering this program, the Department has observed that the riparian forest buffers are one of the most cost effective stormwater management BMPs. Therefore, under the Department's authority under section 402 of the act, the Department has determined that riparian forest buffers are necessary to protect Exceptional Value (EV) and High Quality (HQ) waters of this Commonwealth from land development activities.

 In addition to Department observation, numerous studies demonstrate that riparian forest buffers are particularly effective in mitigating adverse impacts, due to their proximity immediately adjacent to the surface water and their function as a physical buffer to that surface water. Specifically, riparian forest buffers protect surface waters from the effects of runoff by providing filtration of pollutants, bank stability, groundwater recharge, rate attenuation and volume reduction. Riparian forest buffers reduce soil loss and sedimentation/nutrient and other pollution from adjacent upslope flow. (Dosskey et al., 2002). Riparian forest buffers also remove, transform and store nutrients, sediments and other pollutants from sheet flow and shallow subsurface flow and have the potential to remove substantial quantities of excess nutrients through root-zone uptake. (Desbonnet et al., 1994; Lowrance et al., 1997; Mayer et al., 2007; and Newbold et al., 2010). Nitrates can be significantly elevated when adjacent land uses are urban/suburban. Further, the buffer's tree canopy shades and cools water temperature, which is especially critical to support high quality species/cold water species—a function not as effectively provided by any other BMP. (Jones, 2006.)

 Other neighboring states have also recognized the value of riparian buffers. For example, New Jersey requires buffers along all streams with increased widths along trout streams and special protection waters. Virginia requires riparian buffers to implement the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. Maryland has buffer regulations to protect tidal waters, tidal wetlands and streams tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. Riparian forest buffers provide other economic benefits and intrinsic value to land.

 There are many existing provisions in the regulations in 25 Pa. Code (relating to environmental protection) that limit the extent of activities that can occur along streams and wetlands as a means of protecting water quality. A number of these types of controls are in the form of ''setbacks.'' Although riparian forest buffers also have additional BMP functions, riparian forest buffers are like other regulatory setbacks in that they are a project or facility siting limitation that is included in the regulations as an environmental control. This type of environmental control mechanism is found in numerous other environmental regulations, including: surface and underground coal mining: general, § 86.102(12) (relating to areas where mining is prohibited or limited), ''mining prohibited within 100 feet of a perennial or intermittent stream;'' noncoal mining, § 77.504 (relating to distance limitations and areas designated as unsuitable for mining), ''mining prohibited within 100 feet of a perennial or intermittent stream;'' water resources: general provisions, §§ 91.36 and 92.5a(e)(l)(i) (relating to wastewater impoundments; and CAFOs), ''stream setbacks and or buffers required for land application of animal manure;'' nutrient management, § 83.351(a)(l)(v) (relating to minimum standards for the design, construction, location, operation, maintenance and removal from service of manure storage facilities), ''surface water and wetland setbacks for manure storage facilities;'' municipal waste landfills, § 273.202 (relating to areas where municipal waste landfills are prohibited), ''100 foot surface water and 300 foot exceptional value wetland setbacks for municipal waste landfills;'' municipal waste: land application of sewage sludge, § 275.202 (relating to areas where the land application of sewage sludge is prohibited), ''land application of sewage sludge prohibited within 100 feet of a perennial or intermittent stream or exceptional value wetland;'' municipal waste: construction/demolition waste landfills, § 277.202 (relating to areas where construction/demolition waste landfills are prohibited), ''flood plain and wetland setbacks;'' municipal waste: resource recovery facilities, 25 Pa. Code § 283.202 ''flood plain and wetland setbacks;'' oil and gas wells, § 78.63 (relating to disposal of residual waste—land application), ''100 foot setbacks for land application of residual waste from oil and gas well development;'' and hazardous waste management: siting, § 269a.29 (relating to exceptional value waters), ''hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities may not be sited in watersheds of exceptional value waters.''

 This is a new section that was added in the proposed rulemaking with the intent of establishing criteria for riparian buffers and establishing mandatory provisions for the use of riparian buffers as a stormwater BMP. Extensive public comments were received on this proposed section. The Board made a number of substantive revisions to this section in response to comments in the final-form rulemaking, including the addition of subsections regarding exceptions, a presumption of antidegradation compliance and provisions regarding trading or offsetting credits. In addition, the final-form rulemaking also clarifies the requirements for composition and width of mandatory riparian forest buffers and management plans, and guidance on voluntarily establishing riparian forest buffers.

 Section 102.14(a) in the proposed rulemaking listed requirements for incorporating riparian forest buffers. The proposed rulemaking included requirements for mandatory 150-foot wide riparian forest buffers on EV waters and a minimum of 100-foot wide riparian forest buffer on all other waterbodies in § 102.14(a). IRRC and several commentators commented that the wording was vague. Members of the public commented that the requirement for mandatory buffers should be expanded to all waters of this Commonwealth with riparian forest buffers of at least 100 feet on both sides of every stream in this Commonwealth, with 150 feet on small headwater streams and 300 feet on EV and HQ streams. In contrast, the Board also received comments from IRRC and other commentators that the requirement for mandatory buffers is burdensome and that the section on buffers is confusing. In response to comments from IRRC and other commentators, the Board amended § 102.14 to require that a project requiring a permit and located in an EV or HQ watershed which is attaining its designated use, shall not conduct earth disturbance activities within 150 feet of a perennial or intermittent river, stream, creek, lake, pond or reservoir, and must protect existing riparian buffer. Additionally, if the project site requires a permit and is located in an EV or HQ watershed failing to attain one or more of its designated uses the person proposing the project must not conduct earth disturbance activities within 150 feet of a perennial or intermittent river, stream, creek, lake, pond or reservoir, and protect an existing riparian forest buffer, convert an existing riparian buffer to a forest riparian buffer, or establish a new riparian forest buffer.

 The Department notes that only 26,215 miles (roughly 30%) of Commonwealth stream miles are classified as special protection (EV or HQ). Further, only 714 miles (0.8%) of all stream miles are presently classified as special protection and designated as ''impaired.'' Under the final-form rulemaking revisions, for the vast majority of projects—because they will not be located adjacent to impaired special protection waters—riparian forest buffers will not be mandatory, but rather will be an optional BMP that the applicant may choose to manage their post construction stormwater. In addition, the Board recognizes that there may be circumstances under which a riparian buffer may not be feasible. The final-form rulemaking allows for the consideration of alternative BMPs to be considered in accordance with § 102.14(d)(2)(vi) in these circumstances.

 Section 102.14(b) of the proposed rulemaking listed the composition requirements of a riparian forest buffer and a ''zoned'' approach to composition was included. Scientific literature supports a ''zoned'' approach to the composition of newly established riparian forest buffers. Zone 1, being directly adjacent to the waterbody and consisting primarily of native trees, is most critical to the ecological health of the waterbody by providing bank stability, thermal moderation, aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and an energy source to maintain a stable ecological community. Zone 2, consisting of native trees and shrubs, provides opportunity for significant sequestration and trapping of overland and subsurface pollutants as well as maximizing habitat potential for a variety of aquatic and terrestrial species. The Board received comments that requested timber management be allowed within the zones. The language from the proposed rulemaking allowing for timber management has been retained in the final-form rulemaking.

 The proposed rulemaking included requirements for mandatory 150-foot wide riparian forest buffers on EV waters and a minimum of 100-foot wide riparian forest buffers on all other waters in § 102.14(d) regarding average minimum widths. The minimum width of 100 feet and the type of vegetation, primarily native trees and shrubs, has been firmly established by scientific studies as providing substantial ecological benefit. Additional riparian forest buffer width in special protection and impaired waters provides added protection and maximizes the benefits to existing water quality. This subsection in the final-form rulemaking has been revised and moved to § 102.14(b)(2). Also, in the final-form rulemaking, the width of Zone 1 or, at a minimum, the first 50 feet of a riparian forest buffer, directly adjacent to the waterbody should remain essentially ''untouched.'' The width of Zone 2 has been enlarged to 100 feet in the final-form rulemaking. Therefore, the area where timber harvesting is permitted (with a riparian forest buffer management plan and 60% of the canopy cover is maintained) has been expanded. Some limited management of forest resources is allowed in Zone 2. Activities within the riparian forest buffer are limited so as to maintain its integrity and functions.

 The proposed rulemaking contained requirements for enhancing existing buffers to establish a riparian forest buffer that included additional plantings and removal or control of noxious and invasive species in § 102.14(a). The Board received comments from IRRC and members of the public requesting clarification on the requirements for enhancement. The final-form rulemaking has been revised and clarified. Section 102.14(a) lists the requirements for when a mandatory buffer is required. Specific requirements regarding converting a buffer are clarified in § 102.14(b) of the final-form rulemaking regarding criteria, composition, zones and management requirements.

 In the proposed rulemaking, noxious weeds and invasive species were required to be removed or controlled to the extent possible in existing and established riparian forest buffers in § 102.14(a)(4). IRRC and members of the public commented that the section should be amended to clarify these provisions. Minor edits were made and this section was moved to § 102.14(b)(1)(i) in the final-form rulemaking to provide clarity. Invasive plants have characteristics that make them extremely threatening to the survival of a new riparian forest buffer. Noxious weeds are not necessarily invasive plants; they are plants that have proved to be a significant threat to agriculture, human health or the environment, thereby earning the designation of noxious weed from the Department of Agriculture.

 Invasive plants and noxious weeds need to be controlled because they pose a threat due to their ability to spread aggressively, reproduce prolifically and are very difficult to control once established. Invasive plants can overrun native vegetation and prevent the long-term sustainability of native riparian vegetation. Nonnative species can degrade the habitat for wildlife and diminish the pollution prevention capacity of a vegetated riparian forest buffer significantly. Controlling noxious weeds and invasive plants as soon as the plants are noticed (preferably before they bloom and the seeds are released) can be more cost effective than waiting 1 year or more when the invasive plants and noxious weeds are already established. The Department anticipates issuing further guidance on the control of noxious weeds and invasive species concurrently with the final-form rulemaking.

 There was a requirement in the proposed rulemaking for riparian forest buffers to be established along both sides of the stream in § 102.14(d)(l)—(3). IRRC and members of the public commented that this would require permittees to purchase adjacent property. The term ''both sides'' has been removed from the final-form rulemaking. Section 102.14(b)(2)(iii) of the final-form rulemaking clarifies that a riparian buffer would be required on both sides of the stream if the stream transects a project site controlled by the applicant and would not be required on adjacent property.

 Section 102.14(e)(2) of the proposed rulemaking included a requirement for newly established and existing riparian forest buffers to be managed for at least 5 years. IRRC and members of the public commented that specific standards should be set for management of riparian forest buffers. In the final-form rulemaking, the management of a riparian forest buffer is described in § 102.14(b)(3). The language states that riparian forest buffers shall be managed for 5 years, during which time the following are used: a planting plan that identifies the number, density and species of native trees and shrubs that are appropriate to the geographic location and will achieve 60% uniform canopy cover; measures to ensure protection from competing plants and animals including noxious weeds and invasive species; and an inspection schedule with measures identified and implemented to ensure proper functioning of the riparian forest buffer. The 5-year period begins when planting is complete and ends when 60% uniform canopy cover is achieved which should be within 5 years of establishment. The riparian forest management plan should continue to be implemented until 60% uniform canopy cover is achieved. Sixty percent uniform canopy cover is achieved when an area of ground shaded by a vertical projection of the leafy crown of predominantly native shrubs and trees reaches 60% throughout the riparian forest buffer. A sample riparian forest buffer management plan, agreement and techniques to determine the 60% canopy cover can be found in the Department's Riparian Forest Buffer Guidance (Doc. No. 394-5600-001). After 5 years, the riparian forest buffer will be managed as needed according to the riparian forest buffer management plan. Active management is absolutely critical during the first 5 years of establishing a new riparian forest buffer or enhancing an existing buffer to meet riparian forest buffer standards. Management would be focused on ensuring survivability of the young trees and shrubs. Once the new trees and shrubs are established by the end of the 5-year period, management activities become less active and focus more on long-term operation and maintenance needs as described in the riparian forest buffer management plan. Active management of an existing riparian forest buffer is not required; however, § 102.14(f)(3)(i) allows activities or practices to maintain the riparian buffer.

 In § 102.14(a)(8) of the proposed rulemaking, applicants were required to submit a plan for riparian forest buffer management that would describe how management requirements would be met. IRRC commented that the regulation should set forth what an acceptable plan must include. In the final-form rulemaking, the requirements for a riparian forest buffer management plan have been added in § 102.14(b)(4).

 Section 102.14(a) of the proposed rulemaking listed mandatory requirements for riparian buffers. IRRC commented that while riparian forest buffers may present a very good solution from an environmental perspective, these buffers clearly raise many issues of cost, reasonableness and practicality as proposed. The Board received comments that requested flexibility and asked to delete the mandatory obligation. In addition, the Board received comments that supported a mandatory riparian buffer program, as well as comments that supported mandatory 100 feet stream buffers program on all streams. In response to comments, the final-form rulemaking has been revised. Requirements for management of stormwater into riparian buffers, protection of wetlands located in the riparian buffer and standards for measurement of riparian buffers have been placed into § 102.14(c) for clarity. Stormwater must discharge into the buffer with a sheet or shallow concentrated flow. This type of discharge will protect the integrity of the buffer and will maximize the opportunity for the discharge to eventually enter into the groundwater.

 Wetlands within the buffer should be protected and maintained consistent with Chapter 105 (relating to dam safety and waterway management). It is not the intention of the Department to replace any existing functioning wetlands with riparian forest buffers.

 IRRC and members of the public commented that there may be circumstances under which a riparian buffer may not be feasible. In the final-form rulemaking, the Board includes exemptions and waivers in § 102.14(d).

 The proposed rulemaking did not include a presumption for antidegradation in the riparian forest buffer section. The Board received comments that requested flexibility in the final-form rulemaking by relying on riparian forest buffers as a preferred BMP option for meeting the nondischarge or ABACT requirements in a Special Protection watershed. In response to comments, the final-form rulemaking includes an antidegradation presumption in § 102.14(e)(1). This paragraph provides a presumption of compliance with antidegradation requirements when a permittee includes a riparian forest buffer meeting the requirements of § 102.14.

 The Board received comments that requested an offsetting option. The final-form rulemaking has been revised in § 102.14(e)(2) to allow a permittee who includes a riparian forest buffer meeting the requirements of § 102.14 to be eligible for trading or offsetting credits.

 The proposed rulemaking did not list specific requirements for crossings through riparian forest buffers. Comments were received that requested clarity regarding crossings through riparian buffers. The final-form rulemaking has been revised to clarify that, in accordance with § 102.14(f)(2)(ii), crossings over riparian buffers are activities that are allowed when authorized by the Department.

 The proposed rulemaking included requirements for the permanent protection of riparian forest buffers. IRRC and members of the public expressed concern about this requirement. In the final-form rulemaking, the requirement is maintained and applies to all riparian buffers. Riparian buffers utilized to manage stormwater provide physical, chemical and biological protection to the receiving water as well as benefits to the aquatic ecosystem and should be protected in perpetuity. Similar to § 102.8(m), riparian buffers are BMPs that require long-term protection and maintenance to ensure their continued functioning as part of PCSM. The Board has added clarification to this section to provide examples of a variety of mechanisms (deed restriction, conservation easement, local ordinance or permit conditions) to ensure the long-term functioning and integrity of the riparian buffer.

 Section 102.14(g) of the proposed rulemaking listed a requirement for the permittee to complete a data form provided by the Department as part of the PCSM Plan. Members of the public expressed doubt that these forms would be utilized. This section has been moved to § 102.14(h) in the final-form rulemaking and minor edits for clarifications were made. This reporting has been required by the Department for more than 10 years when buffers are established through a Growing Greener grant from the Department. Reporting can be completed online through the Department's web site at www.depweb.state.pa.us (DEP Keyword ''Stream Releaf'').

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