Utah Bulk Transmission Water Quality Assessment(14-UT)
Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for nonpoint source pollution, National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, Section 401 water quality certification, and antidegradation reviews.
Developers must comply with Utah’s Nonpoint Source Pollution requirements if their project will affect “impaired waters.” However, if the developer’s project will not affect impaired waters, then compliance with nonpoint source pollution controls is voluntary. Developers may qualify for financial assistance if they choose to comply with voluntary nonpoint source pollution controls. Utah Nonpoint Source Pollution Management.
Developers must comply with NPDES requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States, which includes wetlands. In Utah, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has delegated authority to the Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) for the permit program controls under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The program in Utah is called the Utah Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (UPDES). Developers must submit a UPDES Permit Application to DWQ for review. DWQ may approve or deny any request for a UPDES permit. If the application is approved, then DWQ will issue a Draft UPDES Permit, provide public notice, and allow for public comment before issuing a Final UPDES Permit. 
Developers must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States, which includes wetlands. Utah has been granted authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES program within the state. Utah’s program is known as the Utah Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (UPDES) Program. Construction activities that disturb 1 or more acres of land must be authorized under the UPDES General Permit for Construction Activities CGP). Developers are required to apply for and be issued a CGP by the DWQ prior to commencing construction activities. The CGP includes provisions for the development of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the purpose of maximizing the potential benefits of pollution, erosion, and sediment control measures at construction sites through the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs). The SWPPP typically defines the characteristics of the site and the type of construction that will be occurring; describes practices that will be implemented to control erosion and the release of pollutants in stormwater; creates an implementation schedule; and describes final stabilization to minimize erosion and prevent stormwater impacts after construction is complete. The SWPPP is typically submitted with the CGP application. A copy of the SWPPP must be located on-site at all times, including the maintenance log which provides evidence that the project has been in compliance with UPDES. According to the UPDES, developers are required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the DWQ to obtain coverage under the GCP. The DWQ has 7 days to review the NOI and permit application and the permit is considered to be issued after that time. The permit coverage is announced in the Federal Register, the DWQ does not send a formal verification of permit coverage.
Developers must obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) if their project implicates a federal license or permit issued to construct or operate a facility which may result in any fill or discharge into navigable waters of the United States, which includes wetlands. Developers must submit a Section 401 Water Quality Application to DWQ for review.  Following review, DWQ will issue a Draft Water Quality Certification, provide public notice, and allow for comment. Developers may be required to participate in a public hearing if one is requested.  DWQ may approve the certification outright, or may impose conditions on approval. 
Developers will be required to participate in Antidegradation Reviews (ADRs) for any action that has the potential to degrade water quality. Activities subject to ADRs include any activities that require a permit or water quality certification pursuant to federal law. The main purposes of ADRs are to ensure that the discharge is necessary, water quality standards will not be violated, and that alternatives to minimize degradation are considered. Developers will be required to a Level I or Level II ADR depending on the proposed activity and level of likely degradation. Level I reviews are intended to ensure that proposed actions will not impair “existing uses.” Level II reviews are required for any activity that is not temporary and limited in nature and is likely to result in degradation of water quality. Developers are encouraged to develop a work plan which clearly defines the scope of work for developing alternatives. After the developer and DWQ complete the ADR process, DWQ will certify that an antidegradation review has been completed and the developer may proceed with obtaining other necessary permits.
Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply
Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.
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List of Reference Sources
- U.A.C. R317-8: Utah Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (UPDES) (2014). 6.5
- U.A.C. R317-15: Water Quality Certification (2014). 4
- U.A.C. R317-15: Water Quality Certification (2014). 5.5
- U.A.C. R317-15: Water Quality Certification (2014). 6.3