We explain how long it takes to get a New Jersey stormwater permit.
For a lot of folks in New Jersey, the fact that they need a stormwater discharge permit isn't always immediately obvious. Whether it's because of the lack of enforcement efforts, or people purposely sticking their head in the sand, there are a lot of facilities across New Jersey that should be covered under one of the various NJPDES stormwater permits, but simply aren't.
Regardless of the reason, a lot of folks are starting to wake up and seek the coverage they need. Whether they've been visited by the NJDEP, or are the unlucky party in a 3rd party environmental lawsuit, a lot of organizations across New Jersey are starting to look into getting the stormwater permit they need.
One issue we see and hear a lot of folks wonder about is the process of getting an NJPDES stormwater permit, and how long it takes to get a stormwater permit in New Jersey. This is a great question, particularly if you're under the gun to get going on a project or new business, or if you're facing enforcement action. In those cases, this literally can be a million-dollar question. So how long does it take to get a New Jersey stormwater permit? Since there are a variety of permits, and multiple steps in the process, this is a frequent question we thought deserved an explanation.
How long does it take to get a New Jersey stormwater discharge permit?
Simply put, the answer is it depends. In some cases, you can get permit coverage quickly - very quickly. In other cases, you literally almost can't get coverage because it takes so long. I know, that makes almost no sense, right? Unfortunately, things aren't cut-and-dry here in New Jersey with regards to stormwater permits (or much of anything else). These following points should help to illustrate why it's hard to pinpoint how long it takes to get an NJPDES stormwater permit.
There's no such thing as a "New Jersey stormwater permit".
Technically, there are about 15 of them. Of those 15, about half are expired. So, the stormwater permit you'll be applying for depends on which one you need. Some stormwater permits in New Jersey have a very easy application and approval process that goes very quickly, while other processes are a convoluted nightmare. We go over some of the bigger picture points on New Jersey stormwater general permits here in our article NJPDES Permit Requirements You Can Actually Understand.
NJPDES stormwater permits are dependent on what you do.
If you're a simple, small housing development construction project or a very simple industrial facility, getting covered under a stormwater permit in New Jersey is usually a quick and easy process. However, if you're a complicated industrial facility with multiple uses on-site, your permit is going to take awhile to get. We go over some of the more common New Jersey stormwater permits in another article called Which NJPDES permit should I use? A review of New Jersey stormwater permits.
The length of time to get a stormwater permit in New Jersey depends on your application.
Simply put, did you complete it correctly? You'd be shocked to hear how many facilities have gone through lengthy, and completely unnecessary steps simply because they filled their applications out incorrectly.
In the case of complicated applications, getting them as correct as possible from the start is critical to moving it along. Forget something, or make a mistake, and it can take a lot more time.
Are there additional environmental permits, approvals, or considerations?
Is anything else involved? Are there any approvals you might need as a prerequisite for your NJPDES permit? For example, to qualify for the Construction Activities (5G3) stormwater general permit, you first need to obtain your Soil Erosion and Sediment Control certification from your County Soil Conservation District. Did you get that? If not, that will make this otherwise extremely simple NJPDES stormwater permit take a lot longer.
Is the NJPDES stormwater general permit even available to you?
In New Jersey, many of the possible NJPDES permits are expired. Yes, expired. And most by several years. Several of the stormwater permits in New Jersey are awaiting renewal from the State of New Jersey.
Although you can apply for one, you literally cannot be covered until it's renewed for you, and everyone else who's covered by it. Since some of these expired permits are years overdue, this can be a real impediment to getting coverage. This is a major issue with stormwater permits here in New Jersey, and one that I foresee as a looming threat to industries and the NJDEP.
How long it takes to get a stormwater permit in New Jersey depends on you.
The time it takes to get a permit really does depend.
For some simpler permits, you can expect a couple of days to a few weeks.
For more complex permits, like applying for an individual permit, it could literally take years to get covered under an NJPDES permit.
And even worse, for some of you, you won't get any permit coverage at all since the applicable permit is expired. Your application will sit somewhere in Trenton on someone's desk until the State gets around to renewing the permit. In short, don't hold your breath.
The most important thing to consider when trying to figure out how long it will take to get a stormwater permit in New Jersey is to figure out what permit you need in the first place. If you're not sure, ask an expert because there are usually a few options available. For example, if you absolutely need permit coverage and the applicable general permit for your industry is expired, you can instead seek coverage under an individual permit, although that might take a year or two to receive.
Whenever possible, we recommend using the easiest permit you can, which is typically an NJPDES stormwater general permit, provided it's active and not expired. To learn more about stormwater permits in New Jersey, click here to contact us online or give us a call anytime at 609-693-8301.