EPA Working on New Water Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency is working on a list of new and updated regulations for the water industry, but budget pressures, the complexity of many of the rules, and other higher-priority issues are expected ...

Jan 1st, 2004

By James Laughlin Editor, WaterWorld

The Environmental Protection Agency is working on a list of new and updated regulations for the water industry, but budget pressures, the complexity of many of the rules, and other higher-priority issues are expected to cause significant delays in implementation of any new regulations into the foreseeable future.

The three most significant rules currently pending for the drinking water industry are the Stage 2 Disinfectants/Disinfection By-Products Rule (DBPR), the Long-Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2ESWTR), and the Ground Water Rule. On the wastewater side of the industry, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Sewer System Overflow rules have been delayed and appear to be in limbo.

Both the proposed DBPR and LT2ESWTR rules were published in August 2003. EPA has extended comment on both rules into January 2004. EPA has asked for comment on hundreds of technical issues relating to the two rules. Industry associations and other stakeholders have voice concern about wording in the rules.

Although no firm time-table has been set, EPA is expected to publish the rules by mid-2005.

EPA published the proposed Ground Water Rule in May 2000. The proposal was very complex and was not well-received by utilities. Part of the complexity was due to the use of multiple criteria that could change the required treatment technique based on the findings of sanitary surveys and microbial monitoring.

EPA is reportedly working to simplify the rule. Work has been slowed by higher-priority regulation and budgetary issues. Currently, publication of the final rule is expected in early 2004.

EPA published a notice on March 19, 2003, barring implementation of the Total Maximum Daily Loads rule, issued in July 2000 by the Clinton Administration, claiming it was unworkable based on the more than 34,000 comments received. A new draft rule – called the Watershed Rule – is currently undergoing informal review by the Office of Management and Budget. It employs a continuous planning process (CPP) to implement the TMDLs. There has been no official announcement by EPA on whether it intends to go forward with the rule.

EPA signed a draft notice of proposed rulemaking on January 4, 2001, which would have required facilities to develop and implement new capacity, management, operation and maintenance (CMOM) programs and public notification programs for 19,000 municipal sanitary sewer collection systems (including 4,800 municipal satellite collection systems) in order to reduce sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

The Bush Administration withdrew the proposed rule in January 2001 for further review. It was scheduled to be reproposed in the Spring of 2003, but has been delayed due to a controversy surrounding a proposal by EPA to allow 'blending' of treated effluent with storm water.

EPA recently published its proposed policy on blending. It defines the conditions under which utilities would be allowed to blend effluent routed around the biological treatment unit with treated effluent, prior to discharge. The process would only be allowed during wet weather events and the final discharge would have to meet permit limits. The public comment period ends on January 9, 2004.

The following is a list of water-related rules being developed by EPA. The action dates listed were published by EPA in its semi-annual regulatory agenda. Delays are expected for publishing most, if not all, of the rules listed:

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)— Proposed Rule Stage

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Long-Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule — Final Action 07/00/04

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Rule — Final Action 07/00/04

SDWA — Final Rule Stage

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Ground Water Rule — Final Action 12/00/03

SDWA — Long-Term Actions

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Radon — Final Action 12/00/04

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Aldicarb — NPRM 08/00/04

National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations(NSDWR): Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) and Technical Corrections to the NSDWR — NPRM To Be Determined

National Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Regulations: Approval of Additional Method for the Detection of Coliforms and E. Coli. in Drinking Water — Final Action To Be Determined

National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Revisions to the Total Coliform Monitoring and Analytical Requirements and Additional Distribution System Requirements — NPRM 06/00/06

Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List 3 — Preliminary Notice 01/00/08

Underground Injection Control: Update of State Programs — Direct Final Rule To Be Determined

Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation for Public Water Systems — NPRM 09/00/04

CLEAN WATER ACT (CWA) — Prerule Stage

Sewage Sludge Standards To Determine the Financial Impact on Small Entities in the Wastewater Treatment Sector (Section 610 Review) —End Review 05/00/04.

CWA — Proposed Rule Stage

Test Procedures for the Analysis of Mercury Under the Clean Water Act— Final Action 11/00/04

Test Procedures: Revisions to Method Detection and Quantification for the Clean Water Act — Final Action 09/00/04

Test Procedures: New and Updated Test Procedures for the Analysis of Pollutants Under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act — Final Action 11/00/04

NPDES Permit Requirements for Municipal Sanitary and Combined Sewer Collection Systems, Municipal Satellite Collection Systems, Sanitary Sewer Overflows, and Peak Excess Flow Treatment Facilities — Final Action 12/00/05

Guidance Regarding National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Requirements for Municipal Wastewater Treatment During Wet Weather Conditions — Final Guidance 06/00/04

Watershed Rule: Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program Revisions — Final Action 06/00/04

CWA — Final Rule Stage

Test Procedures for the Analysis of Biological Contaminants Under the Clean Water Act

Round 2 Standards for the Use or Disposal of Sewage Sludge

Modification to Competitive Process Used by EPA for Wetland Program Development Grants

CWA — Long-Term Actions

Test Procedures for the Analysis of Trace Metals Under the Clean Water Act – NPRM date to be determined.

Test Procedures: Increased Method Flexibility for Test Procedures Approved for Clean Water Act Compliance Monitoring – NPRM date to be determined

Test Procedures: Performance-Based Measurement System (PBMS) Procedures and Guidance for Clean Water Act Test Procedures — Final Action To Be Determined

Test Procedures for the Analysis of Miscellaneous Metals, Anions, and Volatile Organics Under the Clean Water Act, Phase One — Final Action 11/00/04

Procedures for the Analysis of Co-Planar and Mono-Ortho-Substituted Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Under the Clean Water Act – NPRM date to be determined

Test Procedures for the Analysis of Miscellaneous Metals, Anions, and Volatile Organics Under the Clean Water Act, Phase Two — Final Action 11/00/04

Streamlining the General Pretreatment Regulations for Existing and New Sources of Pollution — Final Action 12/00/04

NPDES Streamlining Rule — Round III — NPRM 11/00/06

Clean Water Act Definition of Waters of the United States – NPRM date to be determined

Clean Water State Revolving Fund Regulation Revisions Re: Use as Matching Funds – Direct Final Rule date to be determined.

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