EPA Issues Vessel General Permit ‘Patch’ For Vessels Less Than 79 Feet In Length

On January 19, a temporary exemption from vessel discharge rules for vessels under 79 feet long expired, but the Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary “patch” while efforts continue in Congress to pass a comprehensive Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA).

The news was delivered to members of The American Waterways Operators, for whom passage of a VIDA is a top priority, in a February 14 newsletter. The “patch” is an assurance from the Environmental Protection Agency that there will be no effort to enforce the regulations while negotiations are underway in Congress.

The letter, from Caitlyn Stewart, director of regulatory affairs for AWO, said, “With the expiration of the temporary exemption, the NPDES permit for small vessels—the Small Vessel General Permit, or sVGP—is once again technically in effect for vessels under 79 feet. However, EPA officials continue to indicate that they will consider small vessels a low enforcement priority while Democrats and Republicans continue final negotiations to enact VIDA.”

She urged vessel owners to continue to “implement best management practices for broad vessel discharge categories and to maintain a Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection (PARI) form onboard each vessel.”

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