No Exposure Certificate FAQs

What is a No Exposure Certificate (NEC)?

The NEC is for facilities that would otherwise be regulated by the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) but are exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit because there is no exposure of industrial materials or activities to precipitation or runoff. Under the NEC, stormwater may be discharged to a Water of the U.S. (WOTUS), but to meet the definition of no exposure, the industrial materials and activities at the site are covered by a storm-resistant shelter and not exposed to rain, snowmelt and/or runoff.

Industrial materials or activities include, but are not limited to, material handling equipment or activities, industrial machinery, raw materials, intermediate products, by-products, final products or waste products. Material handling activities include the storage, loading and unloading, transportation, or conveyance of any raw material, intermediate product, final product, or waste product.

A storm-resistant shelter is not required for the following industrial materials and activities:

  • Drums, barrels, tanks and similar containers that are tightly sealed, provided those containers are not deteriorated and do not leak. “Sealed” means banded or otherwise secured and without operational taps or valves;
  • Adequately maintained vehicles used in material handling; and
  • Final products, other than products that would be mobilized in stormwater discharges or by wind (e.g., rock salt).

If, at any time, you determine that industrial materials and activities become exposed to stormwater or the site can no longer satisfy all the conditions of no exposure, you should cancel your NEC and obtain a Notice of Intent (NOI) for MSGP coverage | Learn More >

Additionally, if you determine that industrial materials and activities are exposed to stormwater, but stormwater does not discharge to a WOTUS directly, or by means of a conveyance (such as an Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System — MS4), you may obtain an optional No Discharge Certificate (NDC) | Learn More >

How do I get an NEC?

To obtain an NEC, you must have a myDEQ account | How to Get an Account >

Once your account is set up, log into myDEQ and select GET NEW and the MSGP NOI/NEC/NDC option. This path will filter options based on a series of questions and answers to determine NEC eligibility. If you qualify for an NEC, you will be given the option to obtain this Certificate.

What information is required to obtain an NEC?

The MSPG NOI/ NEC/NDC path collects general information such as the facility location. To continue on the NEC path, the site must have a storm-resistant shelter to protect industrial materials and activities from exposure to rain, snow and runoff. Next, the myDEQ system will ask a series of 11 “yes” or “no” questions from the EPA Exposure Checklist that help determine NEC eligibility | View 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 122.26(g)(2) to Learn More >

The 11 questions include a list of industrial materials or activities, and will require you to determine if any of these potential pollutants are exposed to stormwater. If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions, you are not eligible for the NEC and must obtain the NOI. If you qualify for no exposure exclusion, you may proceed with obtaining the NEC.

What is meant by a “storm-resistant shelter”?

A storm-resistant shelter includes completely roofed and walled buildings or structures, as well as structures with only a top cover but no side coverings, provided material under the structure is not otherwise subject to any run-on and subsequent runoff of stormwater.

Can a site that is currently permitted under the MSGP, claim no exposure?

Yes. As long as a site can meet the definition of no exposure and the 11 exposure conditions. You should first terminate the NOI and indicate the reason for termination is that you are obtaining an NEC. Once the NOI is terminated, you may apply for the NEC.

Do I have to get an NEC?

If you meet one of the regulated Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or Industrial Activity codes and discharge stormwater to a WOTUS either directly or by means of a conveyance, you must have MSGP coverage. If you meet these conditions, and the industrial material and activities at your site are covered by a storm-resistant shelter and are not exposed to rain or runoff, you are exempt from the requirements to obtain the MSGP, however you must obtain the NEC.

How much does the NEC cost?

There is a fee of $1,250 for obtaining an NEC. There is no annual fee associated with the NEC.

How long is the NEC good for?

The NEC is issued for a five-year term, meaning the certificate expires five years from the date it was certified and submitted through myDEQ. Prior to the five-year expiration date, you will receive notification through myDEQ that the NEC expiration date is near, and that you may renew your NEC at that time. The NEC may also be modified and or cancelled using your myDEQ account.

How does ADEQ know my site meets the condition of No Exposure?

ADEQ is not approving or concurring that your site meets the condition of no exposure. When obtaining an NEC, you are certifying that the information you provided is true and accurate, and you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that your site meets the conditions of no exposure.

ADEQ or the representatives of a regulated MS4 (where there is a stormwater discharge to) retains the authority to inspect the site in order to verify the accuracy of the no exposure conditions.

Can ADEQ deny my request for an NEC?

You are certifying that the information you provide during the application process is true and accurate, however, if ADEQ determines that a facility’s stormwater discharges have a reasonable potential to cause or contribute to an exceedance of a surface water quality standard, ADEQ can deny the no exposure certification, and request that the site obtain coverage under a general or individual permit.

Do I have to prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) if I get a NEC?

No, you do not need to prepare a SWPPP if you are eligible for the NEC. However, ADEQ recommends that you develop and implement a plan to periodically inspect site conditions to ensure NEC eligibility requirements are still being met.

Most of my site is covered by a storm-resistant shelter, however a small amount of material is exposed to stormwater, should I get both a NEC and NOI?

No. The exclusion from MSGP permitting is available on a site-wide basis only, not for individual areas of the site or outfalls. If any industrial activities or materials are or will be exposed to precipitation, the site is not eligible for the no exposure exclusion and should apply for an NOI.

If I am selling my property, can my no exposure certificate be transferred to the new owner?

No, the NEC is nontransferable. You should cancel the NEC and the new owner should apply for coverage, if eligible.

If I have secondary containment located outside that is exposed, can I still qualify for the no exposure exclusion?

If the secondary containment is adequately maintained and engineered to prevent any failure, leakage or overflow such that there is no discharge, that area with the secondary containment would not be required to be covered by a storm-resistant shelter and the site could qualify for the no exposure exclusion.

If I have above-ground storage tanks (ASTs) at my site, can I get the NEC?

You may qualify for a NEC if you have ASTs. In addition to generally being considered not exposed, ASTs may also be exempt from the prohibition against adding or withdrawing material to and from external containers. For ASTs to qualify for no exposure exclusion, the following shall apply:

  • The AST must be physically separated from and not associated with vehicle maintenance operations.
  • There must be no piping, pumps, or other equipment leaking contaminants that could contact stormwater.
  • Wherever feasible, ASTs should be surrounded by some type of physical containment such as a berm or concrete retaining structure to prevent runoff in the event of leaking components or structural failure.

How is a No Discharge Certificate (NDC) different from a NEC?

For an NDC, industrial material and activities can be exposed to precipitation; however, none of the industrial stormwater goes to a Water of the U.S. (WOTUS), either directly or by means of a conveyance (such as an MS4). Under the NEC, the industrial materials and activities at the site are not exposed to rain, snowmelt, or runoff, and are covered by a storm-resistant shelter, however stormwater is discharged to a WOTUS.

Additional Resources

EPA Guidance Manual | View >

Email additional questions about NEC to stormwater@azdeq.gov