The EPA has started working on a new environmental standard for the construction industry that could dictate erosion and sediment controls that contractors must include in storm water prevention programs for all job sites of more than 1 acre.

The Associated General Contractors of America and other industry associations recently met with a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel to discuss ways to mitigate the potential adverse impacts of a new standard known as effluent limitation guidelines (ELGs) that would require construction contractors to meet minimum design and maintenance controls. The ELGs could also determine the level of pollution control that contractors must achieve.

The EPA is under court order to propose ELGs for the construction and development industry by March 2002. Eventually, the ELGs will become part of all federal and state permits for the discharge of storm water from construction activity.

In accordance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, the EPA convened a SBAR Panel that included representatives from the Small Business Adminstration, the Office of Management and Budget, and the EPA's Office of Water to get advice and recommendations on how small construction firms could be affected by a new rule. The panel is preparing a report for EPA Administrator Christine Whitman on ways to reduce the impact of an ELG on small businesses.