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Lebanon, York included in DEP pilot program for construction permits

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Lebanon and York counties are included in a new pilot program to improve and accelerate the review process for construction stormwater discharge permits.

The 10-county program was announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

According to the DEP, the pilot program is anticipated to reduce the average processing time for Chapter 102 Individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit applications by 73 business days.

“The goal with our permit modernization efforts is always processing permit applications in the most efficient way possible while still maintaining the high standards that Pennsylvanians expect and deserve from DEP,” DEPActing Secretary Jessica Shirley said in a statement. “The Chapter 102 Pilot Program aims to take a common permit and find ways to improve the process.”

The pilot program will be available beginning May 1, for Chapter 102 Individual NPDES Permit applications for projects in Lebanon, Lehigh, York, Allegheny, Beaver, Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Monroe, and Montgomery counties. During the pilot, the Conservation Districts in the listed counties will accept a maximum of three Individual NPDES permit applications per quarter for consideration under the pilot program.

Applicants must meet with Conservation District and/or DEP staff in two separate pre-application meetings where the District and DEP will assess the project’s eligibility for the pilot program and assist the applicant with ensuring the application is complete. In addition, applicants must have a licensed professional to prepare the stormwater plan and be retained throughout the project. 

The Chapter 102 Pilot Program is one part of DEP’s Permit Modernization efforts, which includes the following:

  • Creating a quarterly Agriculture Permitting Stakeholder Roundtable to engage farmers, conservation district managers, owners, operators, producers, and consultants to collect feedback on permitting processes. 
  • Formalizing a pre-application meeting process to better inform potential applicants of the permitting process and the specific permits they need. 
  • Undergoing User Experience (UX) research with key stakeholders that will provide useful insights into what they need and value during the application process. The goal of the customer experience initiative is to understand and improve the applicant’s experience and reduce bottlenecks in review.

Under the Shapiro Administration, the DEP has improved online permitting, online payment, and delivered on-time permit decisions.

DEP reviews more than 40,000 permit applications every year across all permit types, and we will take the lessons we learn from this pilot and see how we can apply them to other permits,” said Shirley.

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