Water Resources

Accelerated Remediation Catalysis (ARC) – An Emerging Water Treatment Technology for the Treatment of a Wide Range of Dissolved Phase Organic and Inorganic Contaminants

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The Accelerated Remediation Catalysis (ARC) system is a process that can be applied to reduction or oxidation. For reduction, hydrogen gas and an inexpensive, proprietary catalyst are used to perform a chemical reduction of appropriate contaminants. The application of shear forces that can be achieved by using certain pumps is also a feature that dramatically accelerates reaction times.

On the reduction side, there is data supporting the degradation of 1,4-dioxane (1,4-D), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), chlorinated hydrocarbons, and oxyanions (nitrate and perchlorate). With respect to metals and metalloids such as selenium, these species are precipitated and collected for disposal. ARC is also applicable to oxidative processes for appropriate organics like petroleum hydrocarbons, as well as metals/metalloids that precipitate under high redox conditions. In this application, the oxygen is provided by dilute hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid with a different catalyst.

To help reduce start-up costs, the ex-situ process uses common tankage, pumps, valves, and process controls that can be obtained from standard vendors. If the process handles low levels of contaminants, it can be constructed of common thermoplastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, and fiberglass.

ARC can operate in either batch or continuous mode. In batch mode, the reaction tank is filled at start-up and the total reaction time is allowed to reach the predetermined level to assure destruction of the constituents of concern (COCs). After this point has been achieved, the process switches to continuous mode, and the reaction tank functions as a single-stage plug flow reactor. The process can be made to be continuous at start-up by simply filling the reactor tank with clean water. The overall retention time for completion of most reactions has been on the order of 10 to 15 minutes. Using reduction, hydrogen used in the catalyst vessel is generated electrochemically at the site, reducing the need to handle compressed gas. Depending on the COC, the reaction will either cause manageable gas evolution, or precipitate out of the water and be recovered by a variety of methods. The insoluble catalyst can be recovered by filtration and recycled back to the reactor vessel.

Case studies where ARC has been used for chemical reduction include:

  • The conversion of 1,4-dioxane to ethanol. Water with 100 μg/l of 1,4-dioxane was reduced to <1 μg/l.
  • The complete destruction of perfluorocarbons to non-detectable concentrations with a fluorine residue of low concentration, as the initial concentrations of perfluorocarbons are generally low.
  • Chlorinated ethenes are easily reduced to ethene and ethane.
  • Trihalomethanes have been reduced from a typical 80 μg/l level to <10 μg/l in 10-15 minutes.
  • Perchlorate levels as high as 100 mg/l are reduced to chloride.
  • Nitrate is reduced to nitrogen gas.
  • Selenium in the form of selenate can be reduced to selenite and removed as a precipitate. Selenate was reduced from 200 mg/l to <1 mg/l.
  • Chlorobenzene at ppm levels is reduced to benzene that is then collected on the low-cost catalyst.

The ARC system can be designed for a wide range of process flow rates. Design of the system is only limited by the required retention time for the reaction. In essence, the system was brought into focus because of the emerging contaminants issue, and it is applied to pump-and-treat systems. This is important because the nature of 1,4-dioxane and PFCs makes in-situ treatment challenging. It is expected that there will be both an increase in the use of pump-and-treat systems and a need for more efficient water treatment technologies, especially since conventional methods of treatment (such as those that use carbon) are limited.

Additionally, because of the low concentrations of reactants in the process, there is typically no detectable heat gain in the reaction vessel. Therefore, cooling of the process is generally not required prior to releasing the treated effluent. Then there are other applications in traditional wastewater treatment, such as removal of selenium from scrub water at coal-fired power plants. The ARC system’s inherent simplicity allows it to be easily scaled so that dealing with the large flow rates encountered in industrial settings is feasible. While the endpoint for ARC treated water is generally to be discharged, a supplementary feature called Advanced Regenerative Process (ARP) can be added as a further polishing step so that beneficial reuse, including human consumption, is an option.

ARC targets those applications where more complicated and expensive systems, such as conventional Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOP), are being used. The chemical usage, energy, and safety features of AOP systems, combined with their operational footprint, suggest they will eventually be replaced by better remedial options like ARC. There are other developing technologies that have similar objectives to displace AOP systems, such as resin-based operations, but ARC presents distinct advantages in cost, efficacy, physical layout, and scalability.

For additional information, please contact Chris Hortert at (800) 365-2324 (chortert@cecinc.com); Steve Koenigsberg at (949) 262-3265 (skoenigsberg@cecinc.com); or Thom Zugates at (602) 644-2163 (tzugates@cecinc.com).

EPA Finalizes Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs)

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The first Federal limits on various metals and other pollutants discharged by steam electric power plants were finalized on September 30, 2015, and published in the Federal Register on November 3, 2015. Limits for arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, chromium, and cadmium are established in the new rules. EPA notes that steam electric power plant sources make up approximately 30 percent of the toxic and bio-accumulative pollutants discharged into surface waters of the United States by all industrial categories under the Clean Water Act. The Final ELGs set Daily Maximum and 30-Day Average Effluent Limits for discharges from existing and new sources for Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) (see 1. below), Gasification (see 2. below), Combustion Residual Leachate (see 3. below), and Chemical Metal Cleaning Wastewaters (see 4. below). Also established are zero discharge requirements for Flue Gas Mercury Control (FGMC), Fly Ash Transport, and Bottom Ash Transport Waters.

The electric power industry has made great strides to reduce air pollutant emissions under Clean Air Act programs, yet many of these pollutants may be transferred to the wastewater as plants employ technologies to reduce air pollution. When metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and selenium accumulate in fish or contaminate drinking water, they can potentially cause adverse effects in people who consume the fish or water.

This final rule is the first to ensure that generating stations in the steam electric industry employ technologies designed to reduce discharges of trace metals and other potentially harmful pollutants discharged in the plants’ wastewater. Sources of drinking-water have been identified with increased levels of carcinogenic disinfection by-products (brominated DBPs, in particular trihalomethanes (THMs)) from bromide in the plants’ wastewater. This was tracked from drinking-water utilities’ violations of the THM Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Nitrogen discharged by steam electric power plants can also impact drinking-water sources by contributing to algal blooms in reservoirs and lakes that are used as drinking-water sources. Mercury and selenium can bioaccumulate in fish and wildlife, and also accumulate in the sediments of lakes and reservoirs.

The Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines and Standards that EPA promulgated and revised in 1974, 1977, and 1982 did not reflect process and technology advances that have occurred in the last 30-plus years (e.g., coal gasification) and the widespread implementation of air pollution controls (e.g., FGD and FGMC). The technological advances have altered waste streams and created new types of wastewater at many steam electric power plants, particularly coal-fired generating stations. Many stations, none-the-less, still treat their wastewater using only surface impoundments, which may be ineffective at controlling discharges of toxic pollutants and nutrients.

1. FGD Wastewater
FGD systems are used to remove sulfur dioxide from the flue gas so that it is not emitted into the air. Dry FGD systems spray sorbent slurry into a reactor vessel so that the droplets dry as they contact the hot flue gas. Although dry FGD scrubbers use water in their operation, the water in most systems evaporates, and the dry FGD scrubbers generally do not discharge wastewater. Wet FGD systems contact the sorbent slurry with flue gas in a reactor vessel, producing a wastewater stream.

Best Available Technology (BAT) required for control of pollutants discharged in FGD wastewater is a chemical precipitation system that employs hydroxide precipitation, sulfide precipitation (organo-sulfide), and iron co-precipitation, followed by an anoxic/anaerobic fixed-film biological treatment system designed to remove heavy metals, selenium, and nitrates. At some stations, this wastewater is managed in surface impoundments, constructed wetlands, or through practices achieving zero discharge. Other technologies have been evaluated or are being developed to treat FGD wastewater, including iron cementation, zero-valent iron (ZVI) cementation, reverse osmosis, absorption or adsorption media, ion exchange, and electrocoagulation.

2. Gasification Wastewater
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants use a carbon-based feedstock (e.g., coal or petroleum coke) and subject it to high temperature and pressure to produce a synthetic gas (syngas), which is used as the fuel for a combined cycle generating unit. After the syngas is produced, it undergoes cleaning prior to combustion. The wastewater generated by these cleaning processes, along with any condensate generated in flash tanks, slag handling water, or wastewater generated from the production of sulfuric acid, is referred to as “grey water” or “sour water,” and is generally treated prior to reuse or discharge.

3. Combustion Residual Leachate from Landfills and Surface Impoundments
Combustion residuals generally collected by or generated from air pollution control technologies comprise a variety of wastes from the combustion process. These combustion residuals can be managed at the station in on-site landfills or surface impoundments. Leachate includes liquid, including suspended or dissolved constituents, that has percolated through or drained from waste or other materials placed in a landfill, or that passes through the containment structure (e.g., bottom, dikes, berms) of a surface impoundment. Most landfills have a system to collect the leachate. In a lined landfill, the combustion residual leachate collected by the liner is typically transported to an impoundment (e.g., collection pond). Some generating stations discharge the effluent from these impoundments containing combustion residual leachate directly to receiving waters, while other stations first send the impoundment effluent to another impoundment handling the ash transport water or other treatment system (e.g., constructed wetlands) prior to discharge.

Surface impoundments are the most widely used systems to treat combustion residual leachate. Some generating stations collect the combustion residual leachate from impoundments and recycle it back to the impoundment from which it was collected. Some generating stations use collected leachate as water for moisture conditioning of dry fly ash prior to disposal, or for dust control around dry unloading areas and landfills.

4. Chemical Metal Cleaning Wastewaters
Chemical metal cleaning wastewaters are generated from cleaning metal process equipment and are most typically treated in surface impoundments and chemical precipitation systems. Other types of treatment and disposal include constructed wetlands, filtration, reverse osmosis, clarification, oil/water separation, brine concentration, recycling, evaporation, off-site treatment, hazardous waste disposal, third party disposal, landfilling after mixing with fly ash, and deep well injection.

Closing Comments
Many power generating stations that are currently using impoundments or basic treatment may find that additional measures are required to achieve the new ELG limits. Table 1 provides a summary of effluent limits for discharges from existing sources, while Table 2 provides a summary of effluent limits for discharges from new sources. Table 3 provides a summary of additional effluent limits that will apply for discharges from new sources that produce greater than 25 megawatts (MW). Power generating stations will likely have issues associated with the treatment of selenium and boron in their FGD blowdown. These compounds can be difficult to treat and are not always readily removed using conventional treatment techniques that are currently employed by power generators. As such, additional treatment processes may be required to satisfactorily remove these compounds. CEC has experience in the treatment and removal of these compounds and can assist with evaluation of power station water balances, wastewater sampling and testing, and wastewater treatment plant design.

If you have any questions about the November 2015 Steam Electric Power ELGs and their potential impacts on your station, please contact Ron Ruocco, P.E., at rruocco@cecinc.com or 855-859-9932.

 

Table 1: Summary of Effluent Limits for Discharges from Existing Sources
(Daily Maximum/30-Day Average)

Steam Electric Plant Process Arsenic
(ug/L)
Mercury
(ng/L)
Selenium
(ug/L)
Nitrate/Nitrite
as N (mg/L)
TSS
(mg/L)
TDS
(mg/L)
O&G
(mg/L)
FGD Wastewater 11 / 8 788 / 356 23 / 12 17.0 / 4.4 100 / 30 20 / 15
Gasification Wastewater 4 / – 1.8 / 1.3 453 / 227 100 / 30 38 / 22 20 / 15
Combustion Residual Leachate 100 / 30 20 / 15

Existing Sources: The final rule establishes Best Available Technology (BAT)-based effluent limits in existing FGD wastewater, existing gasification wastewater, and existing combustion residual leachate discharges. These limits are equivalent to Best Practicable Technology (BPT).

 

Table 2: Summary of Effluent Limits for Discharges from New Sources
(Daily Maximum/30-Day Average)

Steam Electric Plant Process Arsenic
(ug/L)
Mercury
(ng/L)
Selenium
(ug/L)
Copper
(mg/L)
Iron
(mg/L)
TSS
(mg/L)
TDS
(mg/L)
O&G
(mg/L)
FGD Wastewater 4 / – 39 / 24 5 / – 100 / 30 50 / 24 20 / 15
Gasification Wastewater 4 / – 1.8 / 1.3 453 / 227 100 / 30 38 / 22 20 / 15
Combustion Residual Leachate 11 / 8 788 / 356 100 / 30 20 / 15
Low Volume Waste Sources 100 / 30 20 / 15
Chemical Metal Cleaning Wastes 1 / 1 1 / 1 100 / 30 20 / 15

New Sources: For new FGD wastewater, new gasification wastewater, new combustion residual leachate discharges, new low-volume waste sources, and new chemical metal cleaning waste sources, the final rule imposes effluent limitations based on New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).

 

Table 3: Summary of Additional Effluent Limits for Discharges from New Sources
(Generating Stations Producing Greater Than 25 MW)
(Daily Maximum/30-Day Average)

Pollutant or Pollutant Property Once Through Cooling Cooling Tower Blowdown Coal Pile Runoff
Free available chlorine mg/L 0.20 / 0.20 0.50 / 0.20
Total Suspended Solids mg/L 50 / 50
The 126 priority pollutants (Appendix A) contained in chemicals maintenance, except: mg/L (1)
   –   Chromium, total mg/L 0.2 / 0.2
   –   Zinc, total mg/L 1.0 / 1.0

(1) Denotes No Detectable Amount

West Virginia Senate Bill No. 373 – The Water Resources Protection Act

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On April 1, 2014, West Virginia Gov. Tomblin signed Senate Bill No 373, known as the Water Resources Protection Act (Act), into law. This legislation includes the new Aboveground Storage Tank Act (WV Code Chapter 22, Article 30) including definitions and the following requirements:

  • existing tank inventory and registration,
  • tank permitting and performance standards,
  • annual inspection and certification,
  • financial responsibility,
  • corrective actions program for releases, and
  • spill response planning

The requirements of the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Act are expected to apply to a broad range of industries in West Virginia including, but not limited to, natural gas, manufacturing, mining, power, solid waste, and public institutions with aboveground storage tanks containing more than 1,320 gallons of fluids.  Shipping containers, process vessels and mobile tanks meeting certain requirements will be exempt.  The requirements of the AST Act will be effective June 6, 2014.

The AST Act establishes requirements and deadlines for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and tank owners.  Deadlines are as followed:

  • WVDEP completes the inventory and registration form – July 6, 2014
  • Tank Owners are to submit completed registration forms for existing tanks – October 1, 2014
  • Tank Owners are to submit spill prevention and response plans – December 3, 2014
  • Tank Owners submit annual inspection and certification forms – January 1, 2015

The details and requirements of the registration forms, registration fees and annual inspection and certifications remain to be completed and will need to be monitored as the regulations are developed.

Based on the provisions of the AST Act, the following are expected to be required by the WVDEP:

  • Tank inventory and registration that will include tank location, age, type of construction, capacity, type of fluid stored and distance to nearest groundwater or surface water source used for public water supply
  • A permitting program that will include performance standards for tank design, construction, installation, corrosion prevention, release detection, secondary containment and recordkeeping
  • Annual inspection and certifications submitted by the owners of ASTs prepared by a registered professional engineer, qualified individual working under the engineer’s supervision or individual certified to perform the inspections.
  • Evidence that AST owners have adequate financial responsibility to take corrective actions in the event of a fluid release.
  • The development of corrective action plans taking into consideration releases of fluids and plans for prompt actions in response to releases.
  • The preparation and submittal of spill response plans that are updated every three years.  These plans will include requirements for establishing a facility chain of command, preventative maintenance program for tanks and notification requirements for water supply companies.

The AST Act does include some waivers from the permitting requirements for specific categories of ASTs that either “do not represent a substantial threat of contamination” or  “are currently regulated under standards which meet or exceed the protective  standards  and  requirements  set  forth  in  this article.”  These waivers include: certain pipeline facilities; liquid traps and associated gathering lines related to oil or gas production and gathering operations; surface impoundments, pits, ponds or lagoons; and ASTs for which SPCC plans are required under 40 CFR Part 112 (unless located within a zone of critical concern).  It is important to note that the waiver is only for permitting requirements.  The remaining requirements of the AST Act, including registration and annual inspections, will still be applicable.

The legislation also includes a second new article, the “Public Water Supply Protection Act WV Code Chapter 22, Article 31” (PWS Act), which includes the following requirements:

WVDEP is required to inventory “potential sources of significant contamination” (PSSC) located within “zones of critical concern” for public water systems with water withdrawals from a surface water supply source or a surface water influenced groundwater supply source.  Additionally, the new article will result in more water users being classified as large-quantity water users.  The criterion for large-quantity users is now 300,000 gallons per day in any 30-day period versus the previous criteria of 750,000 gallons per day.

A PSSC is defined as “a facility or activity that stores, uses or produces compounds with potential for significant contaminating impact if released into the source water of a public water supply.”

Sites within a “zone of critical concern” that have ASTs will not be eligible for coverage under General NPDES Permits, and any existing General Permit holders will have to apply for an Individual NPDES Permit by September 1, 2014.

Tracking the progress of the developing regulations, registration and inventory requirements will be important toward meeting the compliance requirement of the AST Act and the PWS Act.  If you have questions about additional requirements of these new Articles, please contact Mr. Tom Maher, P.G., of CEC’s Pittsburgh office at 412-429-2324 or tmaher@cecinc.com.

Solvent-Contaminated Wipes – New USEPA Rules

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A final rule issued by USEPA on July 31, 2013 addresses the management of solvent-contaminated wipes.  In the final rule, USEPA conditionally excludes from the definition of solid waste solvent-contaminated wipes that are cleaned and reused, and conditionally excludes from the definition of hazardous waste solvent-contaminated wipes that are disposed. The rules affect nearly 100,000 generators and handlers of an estimated 2.2 billion rags and wipes per year.   EPA estimated in 2003 that 88% of these were reusable.

Proper management of solvent wipes has been debated since the early 1980’s.  Petitions filed by Kimberly Clark (1985) and Scott Paper (1987) led to an EPA 1994 memo deferring to the States with authorized RCRA programs.  Printing industry efforts toward standardization led to a 2003 proposed rule.  Following a 2009 Risk Assessment, minor changes to the 2003 proposal were finalized and published on July 31, 2013.  The new rules will take in effect six months from publication, on January 31, 2014.

To maintain the conditional exclusion, certain management practices must be followed:

  1. Store in non-leaking, closed containers
  2. Label containers “Excluded Solvent-Contaminated Wipes”
  3. Document accumulation less than 180 days
  4. No free liquids per Paint Filter Liquids Test (9095B)
  5. Document procedure employed to assure no free liquids
  6. Free liquids managed as solid or hazardous waste
  7. Document reusables sent to handler (laundry, dry cleaner) with permitted discharge
  8. Document disposables to permitted handler (combustor, landfill)

During accumulation, a closed container means the cover makes complete contact between the fitted lid and the rim, even if not sealed. Containers with flip-top or spring loaded lids or with a self-closing swinging door may be acceptable during accumulation. Bags may be considered closed when the neck of the bag is sealed preventing emission of solvent vapors.  No container may leak free liquid.  After accumulation and during transportation, a container must be sealed with rings clamped or bolted to the container.

The conditional exclusion may apply to solvent-contaminated wipes which contain listed solvents or exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic.  Free liquid spent solvent is not excluded nor are wipes containing listed waste other than solvent or that exhibit a characteristic from other than solvent.  Wipes contaminated with trichloroethylene are not excluded.

For further information on the Solvent-Contaminated Wipes Rulemaking, see EPA’s website and the July 31, 2013 Federal Register notice.

You should also check with your state for rules that they may have regarding solvent-contaminated wipes, since many state requirements are more stringent than the federal program.  If you have any questions about RCRA Waste Determination requirements, please contact the Chicago office at 630-541-0626.

Illinois TMDL Public Hearing Approaching

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On July 9, 2013, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is hosting a public hearing for the Impaired Waters of Illinois Draft 2014 Integrated Report.  Interested parties can submit verbal comments on the Draft 2014 Integrated Report at the July 9, 2013 meeting.  Written comments must be postmarked or e-mailed by midnight, August 8, 2013.  Information on the public hearing and where to submit written comments may be found at the IEPA’s website.

The IEPA is required under Sections 303(d), 305(b), and 314 of the federal Clean Water Act to assess waters of the state and evaluate compliance with applicable water quality standards and designated uses.  The Clean Water Act also requires each state to review and update the water quality standards every three years.  IEPA, in conjunction with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), identifies and prioritizes those standards to be developed or revised during this three-year period.

Designated uses of state waters include:

  • aesthetic quality;
  • aquatic life;
  • fish consumption;
  • primary contact (e.g., swimming, water skiing);
  • public and food processing;
  • water supplies; and
  • secondary contact (e.g., boating, swimming).

Sources of impairment to Illinois waters include:

  • atmospheric deposition of toxins;
  • agriculture;
  • hydromodification such as channelization;
  • municipal point sources;
  • urban runoff/storm sewers;
  • impacts from hydrostructure flow regulation/modification; and
  • surface mining.

Surface mining can impact Illinois waterbodies through the discharge of mining effluent, which may lower dissolved oxygen and pH and/or increase phosphorus, manganese, iron, and total suspended solids concentrations, resulting in excessive siltation, algal blooms, and fish kills.

The degree of compliance with a designated use in a particular stream segment is determined by analysis of various types of information, including biological, physicochemical, physical habitat, and/or toxicity data.  When sufficient data are available, applicable designated uses in each segment are assessed as Fully Supporting (good), Not Supporting (fair), or Not Supporting (poor).  Waters in which at least one applicable use is not fully supported are called impaired and are discussed in the Integrated Report.

In accordance with Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, waters that are deemed impaired for specific chemical constituents may have restrictions of additional loadings (i.e., discharges) for those parameters.  In addition, waters identified in accordance with Section 303(d) are subject to the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).  A TMDL is the sum of the allowable amount of a single pollutant that a waterbody can receive from all contributing sources and still meet water quality standards or designated uses.  TMDLs are listed in a site’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.  If a TMDL is lowered due to a waterbody being designated as impaired, mining companies may incur additional NPDES violations, potentially resulting in costly fines.

Mine operators and NPDES permit holders are encouraged to compare the 303(d) list in the Draft 2014 Integrated Report with the list in the 2012 Integrated Report to ensure that their discharges will not come under tighter scrutiny.  If your watershed does not have an approved TMDL, it is imperative that you understand the TMDL development process as it relates to your discharges.  If it has an approved TMDL, you need to understand how that affects your future discharges during your NPDES permit cycle.

If you have any questions about the 2014 Proposed Integrated Report or how the revised Illinois TMDLs may affect your NPDES discharges, please contact Dana Sincox or John Gefferth with CEC’s St. Louis office at (866) 250-3679.  The Draft 2014 Integrated Report is reviewable at the IEPA’s web site.

The Future of Stormwater

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In 2010, EPA reached a settlement with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others to develop additional components of a comprehensive suite of strong regulatory actions that EPA has initiated or pledged to take to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  These actions include a more robust application of stormwater quality requirements to all new development, regardless of thresholds set in the Phase 1 and 2 stormwater requirements.

An initial deadline to propose the new comprehensive stormwater rule was set for April 10, 2012.  However, EPA has negotiated several extensions to the deadline (the last deadline was June 10, 2013), and EPA now anticipates a December 2013 date for the draft rule.  The rule will apply to all areas – not just large and medium sized municipalities, where Phase 1 and 2 stormwater programs are currently in place.

It is EPA’s goal to incentivize redevelopment in urban built-out areas over new development in undeveloped areas, and this rule is expected to reinforce that goal.  Stormwater runoff treatment standards are expected to be more restrictive for greenfield development than redevelopment of urban areas.  The treatment standard for greenfield development is most likely to mirror the current Phase 2 stormwater treatment requirement to infiltrate the 80th, 85th or 90th percentile storm event, which is around one inch for many areas, depending on a region’s typical rainfall. Lesser stormwater runoff treatment requirements will be required in redeveloped urban areas to reduce urban sprawl.  This new rule has been dubbed “Phase 2 lite”.

EPA has also been considering whether to expand the Stormwater Phase 2 programs to encompass areas likely to develop – not just already developed areas.  In keeping with a watershed focus, EPA is also considering applying the rule on a watershed basis.  The question is not if the stormwater rule will be promulgated; it is how and where it will be applied.

So, what does all of this mean to you?  Our approach to development will have to change.  We will be incorporating stormwater infiltration practices into our development plans for new development and redevelopment.  The success of infiltration practices relies on subsurface conditions at a site, correct design, correct construction techniques, and long term maintenance.  Developers will need to engage designers with expertise in soils, vegetation, hydrology and construction techniques so these practices work properly.  An infiltration practice can fail quickly if correct construction techniques are not followed during construction, so it is likely that the design professional will be required to oversee construction. And then the infiltration practice owner (developer or property owner) will be required to maintain these structures perpetually. To reduce the long term burden of monitoring and maintaining structural infiltration practices, our future designs will need to address stormwater as an asset and incorporate its reuse into the overall design for irrigation needs and other non-potable uses. 

Additional information on the EPA Stormwater rule is available on EPA’s website.  If you have questions regarding the implications of these stormwater rules, please feel free to contact CEC’s Nashville office at (800) 763-2326.

Clean Water Act, Section 308 Requests for Information

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So…you have received a Request for Information from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) pursuant to Section 308 of the federal Clean Water Act. A Section 308 request is done when the agency has reason to think that your facilities are not in total compliance with their NPDES permit limits. No need to panic – just start compiling the needed information.

Often the first thing that companies do after receiving a Section 308 letter is to call an experienced environmental attorney to get some assistance in working through this process. Odds are you wouldn’t have received this letter if you did not have some exceedances of NPDES permit limits, so the attorney can help you work through usually inevitable enforcement discussions with the USEPA.

Here are the types of information that the USEPA will typically ask for in Section 308 letters. You will need to pull this information together into one location so it can be copied and shipped to the USEPA:

  1. A list of all of your facilities by name, location, NPDES and mining permit numbers.
  2. Copies of each NPDES permit and permit applications for each identified facility.
  3. NPDES data for the past five years (or more), including your Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMR’s) and, often, the lab sheets upon which the DMR’s were based.
  4. You will need to summarize the information from items #1 through #3 (and any additional requested information) into an Excel spreadsheet(s).

Mining facilities with NPDES permits that have discharge violations of metals, chloride, TDS, TSS, pH, etc. may be faced with hefty fines, as well as corrective measures to address and eliminate non-compliant discharges. These corrective measures typically include additional monitoring and reporting, implementing an electronic environmental database management software, implementing an environmental compliance management system, developing a response plan for eliminating effluent limit violations, and conducting internal and/or third-party environmental audits. Depending on the parameters in question, expensive treatment (or pre-treatment) systems may need to be installed.

Known recent civil penalties have ranged from $4 million to $20 million, which doesn’t include costs for corrective measures. Given the amount of money at stake, it is crucial to go into meetings with USEPA as prepared as possible.

If you have questions about the Section 308 process as it relates to mining companies, please contact Jonathan Pachter in our Pittsburgh office at 1-800-365-2324 or jpachter@cecinc.com. Additional information regarding EPA Section 308 matters can be found at the EPA’s website.