More Water Regulations in the Pipeline

I had the chance to talk recently with Ben Grumbles, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water.

I had the chance to talk recently with Ben Grumbles, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water. At the time, he said EPA was within days of releasing the Stage 2 Disinfectants & Disinfection By Products Rule and the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule.

“We view them as very important components to the agency’s multi-pronged strategy to reduce drinking water risks to human health thru improved standards for pathogens as well as disinfection byproducts,” Grumbles said.

EPA is working on a variety of regulations and guidance for the drinking water and wastewater industry, with some significant measures scheduled for release in the coming months.

Among them is the Ground Water Rule, which will take a “risk based target approach” to groundwater and is expected to require many small ground water systems to add disinfection to their systems. Grumbles said timing of the rule is still not clear, but it probably won’t be released until mid to late 2006.

Grumbles said revisions for the Lead & Copper Rule are a “front burner item” and the agency has spent a significant amount of time gathering information and suggestions for updating the rule.

“My expectation is that we will be issuing proposed rule revisions to Lead & Copper early in 2006. It could be January or February,” Grumbles said. “It won’t be an overhaul of the exiting rule, but a targeted update of the rule. It will include various lessions we’ve learned focusing on improved monitoring and sampling.”

He expects the agency also will soon publish significant revisions to the guidance on lead in drinking water in schools, including information on improved testing, monitoring and maintenance efforts.

EPA continues to gather information on perchlorate and MTBE, but those are “still very much in the stage of developing information before a regulatory decision,” Grumbles said.

On the wastewater side of the industry, EPA is currently reviewing proposed guidelines for stormwater blending that were submitted last fall by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The two groups have urged the agency to finalize the joint “Guidance on Peak Wet Weather Flow Diversions” as written.

“We encouraged those organizations to work together to explore areas of common ground and they did that, and provided us with a proposal. We are very actively and seriously reviewing it,” Grumbles said.

He said the guidelines are consistent with his belief that blending is not a long term solution but should be allowed under circumstances were no feasible alternative exists.

EPA is continuing to work on the issue of Combined Sewer Overflow and Separate Sewer Overflows.

“We are very much focused on improved guidance for CSOs and SSOs,” Grumbles said. “We want to work with communities and permit writers to insure record keeping and notification to citizens when there are overflows and we want to encourage capacity management of sanitary sewer systems to try to reduce the possibility of overflows.”

The agency is also working to refine guidance for biosolids and residuals.

Aware that each regulation has a financial impact, EPA is also working on developing affordability criteria for regulations.

James Laughlin, Editor

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