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Rules Overview: Why Do We Do What We Do. Alisa Max, P.E. Harris County. Topics to be discussed today. Rules overview Big Picture TMDL’s And Their Impact Closing Thoughts. Overview. OSSF’s Governed By: Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 366 Texas Water Code, Chapters 7 & 37 30 TAC 285

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rules overview why do we do what we do

Rules Overview: Why Do We Do What We Do

Alisa Max, P.E.

Harris County

topics to be discussed today
Topics to be discussed today
  • Rules overview
  • Big Picture
  • TMDL’s And Their Impact
  • Closing Thoughts
overview
Overview

OSSF’s Governed By:

  • Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 366
  • Texas Water Code, Chapters 7 & 37
  • 30 TAC 285
  • Local Regulations
texas health safety code chapter 366
Texas Health & Safety CodeChapter 366

Health & Safety Code, Title 5. Sanitation and Environmental Quality, Subtitle B. Solid Waste, Toxic Chemicals, Sewage, Litter, and Water, Chapter 366. On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems

Delegates powers to TCEQ &

Provides for Authorized Agents

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/HS/htm/HS.366.htm

texas water code chapter 7
Texas Water Code, Chapter 7

Water Code, Title 2. Water Administration, Subtitle A. Executive Agencies, Chapter 7. Enforcement

Defines Enforcement

Protocols for TCEQ

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/WA/htm/WA.7.htm

texas water code chapter 37
Texas Water Code, Chapter 37

Water Code, Title 2. Water Administration, Subtitle F. Occupational Licensing and Registration, Chapter 37. Occupational Licensing and Registration

Discusses Licensing and

Registration Requirements

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/WA/htm/WA.37.htm

30 tac 285
30 TAC 285

Texas Administrative Code Title 30. Environmental Quality, Part 1. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Chapter 285. On-Site Sewage Facilities

The TCEQ’s Rules to implement the program that has been delegated to them through the Texas Health & Safety Code & the Texas Water Code

http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=4&ti=30&pt=1&ch=285

local regulations
Local Regulations

30 TAC 285.B allows for delegation of the administration of an OSSF Program to local entity known as an Authorized Agent of the State.

The Authorized Agent must enforce 30 TAC 285 and the Texas Health & Safety Code Chapter 366. The Authorized Agent may also proposed more stringent standards than the State provided the TCEQ approves those provisions.

environmental stewardship
Environmental Stewardship

It’s your backyard!

not doing it for you how about health it could be your drinking water supply that you re protecting
Not doing it for you?How about Health?It could be your drinking water supply that you’re protecting
the big picture
The Big Picture

We’re here to protect:

  • Human Health
  • The Environment
rules primarily target the following 3 objectives
Rules primarily target the following 3 objectives:
  • The ability of the system to meet wastewater treatment objectives
  • The ability to maintain the system
  • Protect neighbors, self & the environment
to what levels do we protect the public and the environment
To what levels do we protect the public and the environment?
  • It depends on how the effluent is disposed of.
    • Standards for subsurface disposal is set in rules. It’s assumed soils do much of the work.
    • Standards for surface disposal is set in rules also, but is influenced by the Clean Water Act and the Texas Water Code as the flow could end up in a bayou or stream.
to what levels do we protect the public and the environment1
To what levels do we protect the public and the environment?

The EPA & TCEQ define standards for our streams that they believe are the minimum amounts to protect the public & the environment. They’ve developed Water Quality Standards.

http://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/compliance/monops/water/10twqi/2010_guidance.pdf

water quality standards examples
Water Quality Standards- examples

Aquatic Life Use [How are the Fish & other critters? Is the fishing good? Is your habitat good?]:

  • Dissolved Oxygen,
  • toxicity in water & sediment (12 metals & 26 organic substances for water; additional for sediments),
  • macrobenthic & fish

communities

water quality standards examples1
Water Quality Standards- examples

Recreation Use: [Want to go swimming? Boating? Play in or near the water? Touch the water without getting a stomach ache?]:

  • Bacteria
water quality standards examples2
Water Quality Standards- examples

General Use [Affects everything. Makes other things go wrong if these are wrong.]:

  • Water temperature,
  • pH (high or low),
  • Chloride, sulfate, & total dissolved solids,
  • nutrients,
  • altered color (or turbidity)
tceq s general process to determine if your streams are ok what they do if they aren t1
TCEQ’s General Process to determine if your streams are OK, & what they do if they aren’t
  • Monitor & Sample the Streams– The Clean River Program (H-GAC with TCEQ funds)
  • Compare results with the State’s Water Quality Standards. Determine which streams are impaired.
  • Why are those streams impaired? Create a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) equation to determine sources and give them each an allocation to bring the stream back into compliance
tceq s general process to determine if your streams are ok what they do if they aren t2
TCEQ’s General Process to determine if your streams are OK, & what they do if they aren’t
  • Create an Implementation Plan & implement it.
  • Keep on monitoring. Did the plan work?
  • If not, modify the plan. Try new things out. Keep trying until you find a plan that works.
  • Meanwhile, the rules keep changing to bring streams into compliance!
don t shoot the messenger
DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER!

When Assigning Causes of Impairments:

EPA’s Cause Code # 92: On-Site Treatment Systems (Septic Systems and Similar Decentralized Systems)

[From Table 4.2: List of EPA Source Codes and Source Categories]

buffalo white oak bayou bacteria tmdl project
Buffalo & White Oak Bayou Bacteria TMDL Project

“Onsite sewage facilities (OSSF’s) can be a source of indicator bacteria to streams and rivers. Indicator bacteria loading from failing OSSF’s can be transported to streams in a variety of ways, including runoff from surface drainage to the receiving waters or from transport by storm water runoff.” (pg 53)

OSSF’s contributed 145 billion MPN/day E. coli to parts of the watershed. (Table 25)

All loads from OSSF’s will need to be reduced from 59% - 99.7% (depending upon location) (Tables 31-32)

Source: “Eighteen TMDLs for Bacteria in Buffalo and Whiteoak Bayous and Tributaries”, dated April 8, 2009, and prepared by University of Houston for Total Maximum Daily Load Program, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

http://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/implementation/water/tmdl/22buffalobayou/22-bbbwbtmdl_adopted.pdf

so what are we doing about bacteria now
So what are we doing about bacteria now?
  • Harris County’s Local Order, Section 10.Y: In watersheds where one or more stream segments are listed as impaired for bacteria on the EPA 303(d) list the following additional requirements apply:
  • Electronic monitoring as outlined in amendment M(4) shall be required for all new and replacement on-site sewage facilities.
  • All on-site sewage facilities must use secondary treatment meeting a 30 day average CBOD of 10 mg/L and TSS of 10 mg/L. On NSF Standard 40 units this must be demonstrated by test results. On engineered one of a kind systems, a design parameter of 5 mg/L CBOD and 5 mg/L TSS shall be used.
  • Pump tanks shall be equipped such that when pumping a portion of the effluent is returned below static water level to insure scour of the pump tank bottom.
so what are we doing about bacteria now1
So what are we doing about bacteria now?
  • Bacteria Implementation Group’s Implementation Plan (approved by Group; pending TCEQ approval): Created by a 31 member stakeholder group and has 11 major implementation strategies included, one of which is addressing OSSF’s. Specific implementation activities for OSSF’s recommended are:
  • Identify and address failing systems: includes items such as increased enforcement, owner education, and repair/replace failing systems or sewer failing systems.
  • Address inadequate maintenance of OSSF’s: increase homeowner education, encourage repair & pumpout logs be maintained & consider information passed from seller to buyer at real estate transactions, coordinate with real estate industry, & act to increase maintenance of OSSF’s via measures like increased inspections.
so what are we doing about bacteria now2
So what are we doing about bacteria now?
  • Bacteria Implementation Group’s Implementation Plan (approved by Group; pending TCEQ approval):
  • Legislative or other regulatory actions: increase Texas On-site Wastewater Treatment Research Council fee by $10 to help our area, Create model orders, ordinances & resolutions, ask for greater TCEQ funding support for OSSF’s
  • http://www.h-gac.com/community/water/tmdl/BIG/documents/I-Plan_for_Formal_Support%20_Website.pdf
implication
Implication:
  • New treatment technologies that better address bacteria, nutrients and solids will likely have a greater appeal in the near future!
be prepared for changes
Be prepared for Changes
  • Changes are likely in the way that on-site systems will be designed, permitted, installed and maintained in areas where bacteria or other pollutants is a problem.
and why do so many people in the ossf industry need licenses and continuing education
And why do so many people in the OSSF industry need licenses and continuing education?

You are professionals! You should be treated as such and licensed as such.

The OSSF profession keeps changing and evolving. Continuing education makes sense to keep one’s knowledge current.