Frequently Asked Questions


What is stormwater?

  • Stormwater is the name given to all water that originates during a precipitation event like rain or snow.

What is stormwater pollution?

  • Stormwater pollution is when stormwater picks up contaminants (such as trash and oils / lubricants) before entering waterways and groundwater sources. Polluted runoff like this is the number one cause of water pollution in the United States.

Why does this matter?

  • Generally, polluted waterways are dangerous and hurt their surrounding communities in ways both subtle and significant.

    For you as a business owner, it matters because there are laws which govern how you discharge the stormwater runoff at your facility.

Tell me about these laws.

  • In Maryland, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) works with the EPA to monitor and regulate stormwater discharges. There are a number of permits and laws involved in this process. If you’re working with stormwater pollution at a construction site, you are looking for the No. 14-GP. If you operate any business that could be classified as industrial, you’re looking for either the General Permit No. 12- SW or No. 15-MM.

Tell me about these permits.

  • To start, they’re quite complex. First, you have to gain coverage, which involves submitting a number of documents to the MDE including a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). SWPPPs are elaborate, technical, and comprehensive plans which detail activities at your facility, your housekeeping processes, and procedures to be followed in the event of spills and other incidents.

    Once you've acquired coverage under the permit, you must conduct regular compliance activities at your facility which could include everything from employee trainings and quarterly inspections to lab tests and spill reports. You may also be responsible for conducting a restoration project at your facility (for information on that, see our guide to the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Requirements).

Seems like these permits involve a lot of work. Does my business need one?

  • It depends. Check out the list of industries we serve to see if you fall under one of those categories. Or give us a call - we can give you a quick answer.

All my “industrial activity” takes place inside and under cover - these permits seem like overkill for me.

  • You may be right. If all of your site is fully protected from stormwater exposure, you may qualify for what's known as a No Exposure exemption. It works the way it sounds - if you're not exposed, you're exempt from the permit's requirements.

    If you think your facility qualifies for an exemption and would like a free site assessment to verify that, contact us.

What happens to my business if I need a permit but don’t get one?

  • Operating out of permit coverage puts you in a risky position. You’re considered to be non-compliant by MDE, so if an inspector makes an unannounced visit or your facility receives a complaint that puts you on MDE’s radar, you’ll be under pressure to make quick updates at your facility and get permit coverage to avoid penalties and more serious trouble.

Makes sense. What if I have the permit but haven’t kept up with the ongoing compliance work (inspections, lab testing, etc.) you mentioned before?

  • If you haven’t kept up with the permit’s requirements, you’re just as vulnerable to penalties and fees as businesses with no permit coverage.

And what about the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Requirements?

  • Same deal. You leave yourself exposed to potential enforcement actions if you don't act to satisfy your required restoration work in the allotted time frame.

So how can Grapewell help me?

  • Grapewell can help with all of the above concerns.

    If you don’t yet have a permit but need one, we can work with you to prepare a stormwater pollution prevention plan and gain permit coverage. If you already have a permit, we can set up a system for maintaining your compliance - conducting all of the activities that MDE expects you to keep up with, from employee training and regular inspections to plan updates and stormwater lab testing.

    And if you have Chesapeake Bay Restoration Requirements, we can help you satisfy them. Whether you need plans drawn up for a large project or simply need an engineer’s certification, Grapewell can provide these services.

Can’t I just do all this myself?

  • Absolutely. But it’s hard. And because of the complex and changing nature of the regulations, many business owners find that it makes sense to bring on a team of experts to handle their compliance. Our clients enjoy the sense of security that comes from knowing we’re always just a phone call away.

So why Grapewell and not some other consultant?

  • Because we’re local and focused entirely on stormwater, we’re able to offer truly comprehensive services to our clients. Unlike other consultants, Grapewell does it all. We write stormwater prevention plans and conduct your compliance activities. We do the work of collecting, testing, and reporting samples and we offer on-call support for inspections, new projects, or any other related issues you have. We are proud to offer best-in-class service and support at a fair, consistent, and affordable price.

I’m intrigued. How can I get in touch with someone at Grapewell?

  • Our complete set of contact information is available here. We look forward to hearing from you and developing a stormwater management solution that meets your needs.