When we talk about NPDES permits, we’re really talking about a family of permits. One branch of the family focuses on discharges from city and industrial wastewater treatment systems. Another branch deals with stormwater runoff from land disturbance activities. This fact sheet addresses the so-called “stormwater construction permit” related to land disturbance.
Under federal law, certain types of discharges to rivers, lakes, and streams need an NPDES permit. Land disturbance (e.g., clearing, excavating and grubbing) is one activity that requires an NPDES permit.
DHEC has developed a general (statewide) permit that applies to anyone clearing, excavating, grubbing or otherwise engaged in land disturbance. Whether building a subdivision or starting a new business, you may need to be covered under this permit. You can obtain this coverage by applying for and meeting the requirements of the general permit.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) administers NPDES permits within South Carolina. DHEC has been authorized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to manage the NPDES permitting process to satisfy both state and federal laws.
Land development activities and other activities that disturb at least 1 acre of land (e.g., land clearing) need the permit.
For land disturbance of less than 1 acre, you must complete a form, but you do not need a permit. For projects involving less than 1 acre, see D-2628.pdf for details.
The stormwater permit involves both a state and a federal component.
The federal NPDES permit coverage costs $125. The state’s permit fee is based on the acreage disturbed.
For more specific information on fees, see Page 3 of the Notice of Intent (NOI) for Stormwater Discharges from Large and Small Construction Activities (NPDES General Permit SCR100000) form.
In local areas that have stormwater programs required by DHEC (called Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems or MS4 programs), you must apply for an NPDES stormwater permit through a local government agency. To do this, you must complete the form provided by that local government agency. Once the local government approves your application, they will forward it to DHEC, which will then issue the NPDES decision. Click here for information on the state’s 75 MS4s. In all other cases, you must apply for the permit directly from DHEC.
To figure out where you need to apply, use DHEC’s interactive “Where to Apply” map in
our Stormwater (Runoff) Pollution section.
In cases where a local government reviews the engineering drawings, DHEC can generally grant coverage within 8 calendar days (non-coastal) or 77 calendar days (coastal) following approval by the local entity.
Generally, if DHEC reviews the drawings, permits can be issued in 40-70 calendar days (depending on any revisions needed by the engineering consultant).
The authority for NPDES permits stems from federal and state laws. Our state environmental laws are
written to be consistent with at least the standards set by federal laws.
DHEC’s fee structure is authorized by a separate law.