Maine Adaptive BMP Cooperative

Maine Adaptive BMP Cooperative (ABC)

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Clean Water Act Information

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is a federal regulatory authority responsible for protecting waters of the United States. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act states that construction of roads and other impervious surfaces require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit prior to construction to ensure measures are taken to mitigate point source pollution.

The CWA provides an exemption to section 404 for construction of forest roads, known as the “sylvicultural exemption.” This exemption is provided to the forest products industry due to the effectiveness of Best Management Practices (BMPs) at protecting water quality.

the CWA cites the use of BMPs as not only an effective way to treat runoff from forest roads but also as a means to maintain flow and circulation patterns of waterbodies and generally minimize any adverse effect on the aquatic environment.

This is a legal precedent stretching back to 1976, where EPA recognizes the effectiveness of forestry BMPs and the states as authorities on BMP supervision, rather than having a federal permitting process.

More information on BMPs to protect water quality in forestry operations