Can I Get A Stormwater Permit Myself?

Written By: Doug Ruhlin | Jul 5, 2024

Time to Read 9 Minutes

Can I Get A Stormwater Permit Myself?

Navigating Stormwater Permits: Why You Might Need a Professional

Are you struggling to figure out how to get a stormwater permit? You’re not alone. Many businesses face challenges navigating the complex regulatory landscape, especially when it comes to environmental permits.

Navigating the stormwater permit process can be daunting, with its myriad of forms, specific requirements, and stringent regulations. Without a clear roadmap, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about where to start.

So, can you get a stormwater permit on your own? The short answer is yes, you can! You technically don't need any special qualifications to obtain one. However, the more important question is this: should you get a stormwater permit on your own? This one is more complicated, but the short answer, in our opinion, is no, you shouldn't!

If you're ready to take our word for it and let professionals handle the complexities for you, reach out to a stormwater permit expert. Our decades of stormwater permitting expertise ensure that your permit process is smooth, efficient, and compliant, freeing you to focus on running your business without the headache of navigating regulatory requirements.

Not ready to give up on the DIY route yet? Let's explore further!

What is a Stormwater Permit?

Before we jump into the pros and cons of DIY vs. hiring a pro, here's the short version: a stormwater permit (or NPDES permit) regulates discharges of stormwater to ensure it doesn’t pollute water bodies.

Basically, when rain (or any other sort of precipitation) falls on your site, it can get polluted by a host of materials from your operation. When this now "dirty" water runs off your site, it has the potential to impact the environment. The government knows this, and so they often require businesses meeting certain criteria to get a stormwater permit.

If you want more details, we cover this topic in-depth in our article: What is a stormwater permit?

Are You Sure You Need a Stormwater Permit?

This is a complex question that largely varies on where your facility is located. If you're running any kind of industrial operation, the answer is likely yes. Ask yourself: are any materials or activities exposed to rain, in any capacity? If so, you probably need a stormwater permit to ensure compliance and protect the environment. This applies to a wide range of businesses, from manufacturing plants to distribution centers.

Even businesses that seem safe from pollution concerns, like shopping malls, can require a stormwater permit. Large parking lots, for example, can contribute to significant runoff that carries oils, heavy metals, and other contaminants into the water system. To complicate matters further, if it turns out you really don't need a stormwater permit, you may still need a Non-Exposure Certification (or NEC), which is basically a document confirming you don't need a permit!

If you're unsure whether you need a stormwater permit, a Non-Exposure Certification, or something else, you should reach out to a stormwater permit consultant.

For a deeper dive, check out our article: Who Needs a Stormwater Permit?

small stormwater outfall pipe draining

What You'll Need to Do With Your Stormwater Permit

While many businesses think that once a stormwater permit is issued, it's an approval to go about their operations as they please—that's not really the case. Your permit will require regular inspections, monitoring, and detailed record-keeping. Additionally, employees need to be trained to recognize and manage potential stormwater pollutants, and facilities must implement stringent housekeeping and preventive maintenance practices.

You must also adhere to specific Best Management Practices (or BMPs) designed to minimize stormwater contamination. This can include everything from proper storage of materials to the installation of structural controls like silt fences and retention ponds. The ongoing nature of these requirements means that maintaining compliance is a dynamic process, one that isn't as simple as a stamp of approval and back to business as usual.

DIY or Professional Help?

As you can see, the complexities of stormwater permitting can quickly become overwhelming even before we've begun to compare your options. The intricate regulations and detailed requirements make the process anything but straightforward.

While it’s technically possible to obtain a stormwater permit on your own, doing so can be fraught with challenges and pitfalls. There are numerous compelling reasons why hiring a professional is a far wiser choice, ensuring a smooth, efficient, and stress-free experience.

Why You Shouldn’t DIY

  1. Unclear Starting Point: The process can be confusing if you’re new to it. Specific forms, procedures, and departments make it easy to miss critical steps.
  2. Time-Consuming: Obtaining a permit requires significant time and effort, which can distract you from running your business.
  3. Complicated Requirements: Information like determining the pollutants on your site can be complex and difficult to gather.
  4. Challenging Interactions: Navigating interactions with government employees can be daunting, especially if you encounter uncooperative officials.
  5. Varied Permits: Different facilities require different permits, and figuring out the right one can be tricky.
  6. Ongoing Compliance Struggles: Even if you do get the permit on your own, will you know what to do with it? Most don't!

The Gist: DIY stormwater permits are difficult due to confusing processes, time demands, complex requirements, challenging government interactions, varied permits, and ongoing compliance issues.

Stormwater Pro Observing Discharge

Why Hire a Professional

  1. Expertise: We know exactly where to start and how to navigate the application process smoothly.
  2. Efficiency: Our experience allows us to complete applications quickly and accurately, saving you valuable time.
  3. Knowledge: We handle complex information relating to stormwater permits regularly, making the process straightforward for us.
  4. Connections: Our familiarity with government agencies ensures smoother interactions and quicker resolutions.
  5. Tailored Solutions: We’ve worked with diverse facilities and can identify the best permit for your specific needs.
  6. Lasting Compliance Support: We'll provide ongoing guidance and support to maintain compliance long after the permit is obtained. We make sure you understand your permit, what to do with it, provide training, and more!

The Gist: Hire a stormwater professional and you'll get expertise, efficiency, and knowledge, ensuring a smooth application process. We have connections with government agencies for quicker resolutions, provide tailored solutions for your specific needs, and offer lasting compliance support with ongoing guidance and training.

Why Skipping out on a Stormwater Permit is a BAD Idea!

Sound like a headache? Maybe you're starting to wonder if you would be better off flying under the radar for as long as possible without a stormwater permit. What's the worst that could happen?

Well, a lot. The consequences of skipping out on a stormwater permit can be severe, including hefty fines, legal actions, and potential shutdowns of your operations. Non-compliance not only risks your business's financial health but also damages your reputation and can lead to long-term operational disruptions.

Newer, younger, more tech-savvy individuals who care about the environment are stepping into the roles of inspectors and regulators. Times are changing. Maybe you knew your local inspector and they were willing to turn the other cheek until you got your act together. Those times are over.

Investing in a stormwater permit and ensuring compliance protects your business from unnecessary risks and demonstrates your commitment to environmental responsibility.

stormwater discharching from outfall

The Bottom Line: Leave it to the Professionals

Think of it like this: I could probably design my own website, but do I want to spend the countless hours it takes to learn the software and build it myself? No. Similarly, hiring a professional for your stormwater permit ensures it's done right, efficiently, and with minimal hassle, allowing you to focus on the core aspects of your business.

If you see the value in having knowledgeable professionals handle your stormwater permit, contact us today. We’ll ensure you’re covered from head to toe on all things environmental, so you can focus on what you do best—running and expanding your business.

Need additional stormwater permit help?

With over 30 years of experience, RMA has assisted countless businesses with stormwater permits. From small general permits to complex individual NPDES permits for multi-national organizations, we've handled it all.

If you're unsure about needing an NPDES stormwater permit, choosing the right permit, applying for coverage, maintaining compliance, or any other stormwater or environmental concerns, we're here to help.

Even if we're not a good fit for your business, we’ll do our best to steer you in the right direction. Feel free to contact us at, click here to contact us, or give us a call anytime at 888-RMA-0230 to learn how we can help your operation deal with stormwater permits and other environmental regulations.

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