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All facilities covered by the MSGP (except for Sector S - Air Transportation Facilities) are required to perform quarterly visual examinations of their storm water discharges for the purpose of visually inspecting storm water quality associated with storm water runoff or snow melt. Visual examinations provide a simple and inexpensive means of obtaining a rough assessment of the effectiveness of a facility's SWPPP.
Visual examinations should be:
Coal mining-related facilities (Sector H) must perform visual monitoring within the first 60 minutes of discharge (or as soon thereafter as practical, but not to exceed 2 hours). Visual examinations are not required for inactive areas not under Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) bond. However, visual examinations must be performed:
What Documentation Should be Prepared?
Visual examination reports must include:
Do Visual Examination Results Need to be Reported?
No, unless specifically requested to do so by EPA. All results must be recorded and kept with the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.
Do All Discharge Points Need to be Visually Examined?
No. Under certain conditions, a facility may determine one outfall to be a Representative Discharge. That is, the facility reasonably believes the discharge from two or more outfalls is substantially identical and therefore only inspects one outfall. Facilities must document their rationale for considering two outfalls to be identical and contain that explanation in the Storm Water Pollution Permit. Also, for each representative outfall, an estimate the size of the drainage and an estimate of the runoff coefficient of the drainage area must also be provided in the SWPPP. More information on Representative Discharges can be found in the Introductory Fact Sheet to the MSGP (Section VI.E.6).
What If a Visual Examination Can't be Performed?
The MSGP allows for waivers from visual examination requirements under two circumstances: adverse weather conditions, and unstaffed and inactive sites. It should be noted that these waivers cannot be used for compliance monitoring requirements associated with effluent limitations.
Adverse Weather Waiver
Adverse weather conditions that may prohibit the collection of samples include weather conditions that create dangerous conditions for personnel (such as local flooding, high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes, electrical storms, etc.) or otherwise make the collection of a sample impracticable (drought, extended frozen conditions, etc.).
The facility must document reasons for not performing the visual examination if adverse climate conditions preclude the discharger from performing the visual examination. The facility must retain these records with the SWPPP.
Unstaffed and Inactive Sites
The facility must maintain a certification with the storm water pollution prevention plan stating that the site is inactive and unstaffed and that performing visual examinations during a qualifying event is not feasible.