EPA Begins Work on Drinking Water Effluent Limits

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the preliminary steps toward developing guidelines on effluent limitations for drinking water treatment facilities serving more than 10,000 customers.

Sep 1st, 2005

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the preliminary steps toward developing guidelines on effluent limitations for drinking water treatment facilities serving more than 10,000 customers.

EPA recently sought comment on a proposed Information Collection Request that it planned to submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Thanks to the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act, EPA must have OMB approval before it begins collecting information.

During a 2004 assessment of all effluent guidelines, EPA identified drinking water facilities as a candidate for national regulation. EPA has not yet decided whether to issue effluent regulations or what effluent limitations would be appropriate for drinking water facilities. The agency needs to learn more about the processes and the discharges to evaluate those questions.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) directs EPA to develop effluent guidelines to limit the amount of pollutants that are discharged to surface waters or to sewage treatment plants. Drinking water treatment facilities currently have no consistent set of effluent guidelines to reduce or control pollutant discharges. These facilities often discharge pollutants like iron, aluminum, and chlorine.

EPA plans to collect information from drinking water treatment facilities serving populations of greater than 10,000 to determine if effluent guidelines are required to control the discharge of pollutants into surface waters of the United States and to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). If approved, the information collection would be in two phases, starting with a screener questionnaire to approximately 1,250 facilities to collect basic information about flow and source water. About two months after issuing the screener, EPA would then collect more detailed information from about 225 facilities, with questions about source water characteristics, residuals management techniques, and costs.

This ICR will provide EPA with preliminary technical and environmental data needed to quantify any adverse environmental impacts of the discharges of residuals and metals from drinking water treatment facilities, evaluate the effectiveness of treatment technologies, and determine the incremental pollutant removals and compliance costs for various residual management options that EPA might consider for a proposed rule.

EPA estimates the total industry burden of this ICR at 19,571 burden hours. The total industry burden assumes a respondent burden of seven hours to complete the screener questionnaire, and an estimated 48 hours for the detailed questionnaire. In this case, burden refers to the amount of time EPA expects respondents would need to read the questionnaire instructions, collect the requested data, and make the necessary certifications to the submission’s accuracy.

Security Training Modules for Water Utilities

Through an EPA grant, training modules are available to help drinking water and wastewater utilities incorporate enhanced security measures into facility design, operation and management. The modules are based on the three recently released interim voluntary security guidance documents developed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

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