General NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Mining Activities
Please view the sample permit, EPA Fact Sheet and Notice of Intent for Coverage (revised 2021) for BMP GP-104 that can be found on the DEP eLibrary.
An NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit is required for stormwater associated with mining activity. A mining and/or reclamation operation with earth disturbance of one acre or greater in size is required to have an individual NPDES permit, or coverage under a general NPDES permit, if the site has expected or potential discharges of stormwater runoff. The BMP GP 104 is a tool to provide NPDES permit coverage for eligible coal and noncoal mining and reclamation authorization types to address stormwater associated with mining activities. Best management practices (BMPs) are used to control the runoff that may or may not result in a point-source discharge.
A General Permit issued by DEP allows for operators to apply for coverage under that permit by completing a Notice of Intent (NOI) and accepting the standard permit terms, conditions, and requirements. As with individual NPDES permits, the BMP GP-104 is issued for a 5-year term. Prior to the expiration of the permit term, the DEP publishes in the Pennsylvania Bulletin the draft of the proposed reissued GP-104 for public comments and subsequently publishes the final version.
When an operator receives coverage under BMP GP-104, this coverage now expires the same day as the General Permit expires. If the operator requires the coverage to continue past that date, they can reapply under the reissued permit. The coverage is not transferable to another operator.
To be eligible for coverage under the BMP GP-104, an operator must have a qualifying mining authorization (existing or pending), a mining license in good standing (or pending), and they must submit a complete NOI to their local District Mining Office with a $250 fee. The NOI details what type of discharges will be expected from the operation and what BMPs will be used to meet the permit standards.
Mining authorization types eligible for BMP GP-104 coverage are as follows: coal and noncoal mining permits, small noncoal (and bluestone) permits, noncoal mining general permits, coal and noncoal exploration activities, and activities authorized through a Government-Financed Construction Contract (GFCC) under 25 Pa. Code § 86.6 executed with the DEP to achieve reclamation.
The operator must demonstrate that only eligible discharges will be expected for the mining activities. Eligible discharges authorized under this permit are as follows:
- Stormwater runoff to surface waters from coal and noncoal exploration, mining, and support activities,
- Stormwater runoff to surface water from mining areas being reclaimed,
- Stormwater runoff from haul/access roads associated with mining activities.
The following are not eligible under this permit:
- Discharges from sites that have coverage under an individual NPDES permit or other NPDES General Permit,
- Discharges from those activities where one or more of the conditions listed in 25 Pa. Code § 92a.54(e)(1)-(9) exist, which is more appropriately controlled under an individual permit,
- Discharges from underground mines, acid mine drainage, pumped groundwater, sewage, or water used to wash or otherwise refine the product or any stormwater discharges that are comingled with the non-stormwater sources,
- Discharges of toxic substances at levels that exceed state water quality criteria for toxic substances,
- Discharges to ‘HQ’ or ‘EV’ designated waters, including EV wetlands,
- Discharges to waters impaired for sediment-related causes or waters covered by an approved TMDL which states sediment as a pollutant of concern,
- Any other discharges for which the District Mining Offices deems are more suitably controlled under an individual NPDES permit because of water quality concerns and specific effluent limits that must be applied.
2021 Reissuance of BMP GP-104
Because BMP GP-104 is an NPDES permit subject to federal requirements, the BMP GP-104 must be reissued every 5 years. The original BMP GP 104 was issued in 2010 and reissued in 2016 after a brief administrative extension. The 2021 version is the 2nd reissuance and includes provisions for operators of Government Financed Construction Contract (GFCC) projects and BMP GP 106 Reclamation of Forfeited Noncoal Mines authorizations to obtain NPDES coverage under BMP GP-104. The publication of the 2021 version replaces the previous version.
Operators who have existing GP-104 coverage (prior to 2021)
With this 2021 reissuance, the terms and conditions of BMP GP-104 have changed. A summary of these changes is outlined below. It is important that permittees read and understand the permit documents. The associated Fact Sheet explains in detail the justification for the content of the BMP GP-104.
The following is a summary of changes that affect operators with existing coverage:
- Expiration Date of Coverage. Previously, operators were granted 5 years of coverage based on the date the Notice of Intent was approved. The pre-2021 authorizations list an expiration date anywhere from 2021 to January 2026. As of the 2021 BMP GP-104, that expiration date no longer applies. In accordance with federal regulations, the DEP cannot authorize coverage beyond the expiration date of the General Permit under which coverage is granted. Therefore, all authorizations under the 2021 reissued BMP GP-104 will expire on the date that the permit itself expires, March 27, 2026. If an operator completes the Acknowledgement process below, and chooses to continue coverage under the 2021 version of BMP GP-104, the new coverage expiration date will be extended to March 27, 2026.
- TMDL/impaired waters. Under the 2016 version, it was unclear how the BMP GP-104 applied in TMDL or impaired watersheds. The 2021 version explains this process. An applicant who proposes a discharge to a stream impaired for sediment-related causes will be required to implement non-discharging BMPs. If the applicant cannot manage the entire potential discharge, they must obtain an individual NPDES permit. Therefore, no discharges are allowed to streams impaired for sediment-related causes under this GP-104.
- Effluent limits. The table of effluent limits in the 2016 version included limits for a 30-day Average and Daily Maximum for sediment. These were removed and now only an Instantaneous Maximum value applies. The effluent tables were split to distinguish coal versus noncoal operations. The value of the Instantaneous Maximum limit did not change and it is the same for all operations. The monitoring requirements did not change. As before, all facilities covered under this General Permit must report their monitoring and sampling results at least once annually. Because most facilities covered under this General Permit do not discharge, the permittee will not have a sample to collect and report. However, the permittee must comply with the federal electronic reporting rule 40 CFR Part 127: NPDES Electronic Reporting, even if the report is to certify “no discharge”. The DEP will supply further instructions for electronic registration and reporting for permittees through this webpage. See “Electronic Submission of Monitoring Results” below.
- Additional items in the NOI. A revised NOI has been published that has some minor formatting changes in addition to two new items to complete regarding preventing exposure of equipment and to address infiltration BMPs in frozen conditions. The District Mining Office will request that you submit additional information, if applicable.
Acknowledgment of the reissued BMP GP-104
Permittees under the previous version of BMP GP-104 can continue their coverage but will be required to submit an acknowledgment certification to their local District Mining Office declaring that that they do or do not accept the terms and conditions of the reissued 2021 BMP GP-104.
Permittees under the previous version of BMP GP-104 will be sent a letter describing the process to submit the acknowledgment certification form. If you are a permittee with existing coverage prior to February of 2021 and did not receive notice of this requirement in the mail, please contact your District Mining Office.
Permittees under the previous version of BMP GP-104 will have the following options available to choose from:
- The permittee accepts the terms and conditions of the reissued BMP GP-104. (This option is subject to review for eligibility under the 2021 reissued BMP GP-104.)
- The permittee is no longer eligible for or rejects coverage under the reissued BMP GP-104 General Permit and is opting for an individual NPDES permit. (This option requires the operator to apply for an Individual NPDES Permit within 90 days.)
- The permittee states they have completed mining and reclamation, and has permanently stabilized the site OR has less than one acre disturbed and no longer needs NPDES coverage. (In selecting this option, the permittee is agreeing to termination of NPDES coverage. This option is subject to an inspection of the operation and possibly a completion report for bond release.)
The completed and signed acknowledgment form must be submitted to the District Mining Office within 30 days. Email submission is strongly encouraged. If you completed this form accepting coverage under the 2021 reissued BMP GP-104, after processing and review by the DEP, you will receive notice of your coverage approval and new expiration date of March 27, 2026.
District Mining Offices counties and contact information
Pottsville District Mining Office
5 West Laurel Boulevard
Pottsville PA 17901-2522
Counties: Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming, York
Moshannon District Mining Office
186 Enterprise Drive
Philipsburg PA 16866
Counties: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union
Knox District Mining Office
P.O. Box 669
Knox PA 16232
Counties: Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Venango, Warren
Cambria District Mining Office
286 Industrial Park Road
Ebensburg PA 15931
Counties: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Somerset
New Stanton District Mining Office
PO Box 133
New Stanton PA 15672
Counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westmoreland
If you have questions about the BMP GP-104 permit, fact sheet, or process, contact the Bureau of Mining Programs at RA-EPMININGPERMITS@pa.gov or 717-787-5103.
Electronic submission of monitoring results
All facilities covered under BMP GP-104 must report their monitoring and sampling results at least once annually. Because most facilities covered under BMP GP-104 do not discharge, the permittee may not have a sample to collect and report. However, the permittee must comply with the federal electronic reporting rule 40 CFR Part 127: NPDES Electronic Reporting, even if the report is to certify “no discharge” occurred. The DEP will supply instructions for electronic registration and reporting for permittees in Fall of 2021.