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Small vessels get another month before discharge permits kick in

President signs bill to extend permit exemptions for vessels less than 79 feet in length

Posted January 5, 2018

President Trump signed S. 2273, a bill delaying a requirement for Clean Water Act permitting of incidental discharges from certain vessels from December 18, 2017, to January 19, 2018. Vessels that are shorter than 79 feet in length and fishing vessels are not required to obtain a permit for discharges incidental to the normal operation of the vessel.

EPA issued the Small Vessel General Permit (sVEP) in 2014, to cover the incidental discharges of vessels less than 79 feet in length. However, Senate Bill S. 2444 exempted these vessels from the permit until December 18, 2017 (except for ballast water discharges). Incidental discharges may include ballast water, bilgewater, graywater (e.g., water from sinks, showers), and deck washdown and runoff.

Currently, EPA requires vessels greater than 79 feet in length to obtain permit coverage under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). In addition, commercial vessels of all sizes that discharge ballast water must apply for permits. Approximately 61,000 domestically flagged commercial vessels and 8,000 foreign flagged vessels require vessel discharge permit coverage for these incidental discharges.

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