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Management of Non-Point Source Pollution CE 296B. Department of Civil Engineering California State University, Sacramento. Lecture #2, January 29, 1998 Clean Water Act - Part I. I. Why are we starting an engineering class with a discussion of a Federal Law?.

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Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

Management of Non-Point Source PollutionCE 296B

Department of Civil Engineering

California State University, Sacramento

Lecture #2, January 29, 1998

Clean Water Act - Part I


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

I. Why are we starting an engineering class with a discussion of a Federal Law?

A. Virtually every action now taken in the area of non-point source pollution is driven by requirements in the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

B. If solutions are to be found that appeal to the broad range of the body politic, adjustments will have to be made to the CWA. In its current form, many provisions are simply unworkable.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

II. The CWA is a large, complicated, piece of legislation. We need a good starting place.

That would be the requirement that beneficialuses be assigned to all receiving waters.

A. States are required to identify all receiving waters. These are “waters of the U.S.” The cut-off for minor water bodies is understandably controversial.

B. Common law definition: If a canoe can float on it, it is a navigable water, and is a water of the U.S. Other water bodies such as wetlands also are waters of the U.S.


Discussion break
Discussion Break We need a good starting place.

  • If a water body is borderline as to whether it will be a “water of the U.S.” different groups of people will have a different perspective on whether that body should be included.

    • A discharger, say a county, would be inclined to argue no.

    • An environmental group would be inclined to argue yes.

    • Some regulators would argue no, and some would argue yes.

      Why the difference in opinion?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

II. The CWA is a large, complicated, piece of legislation. We need a good starting place. That would be the requirement that beneficialuses be assigned to all receiving waters. (cont.)

C. How was this done in California?

The state is divided into 9 regions, roughly based on major hydrologic units. Each region has an appointed board that is responsible for defining beneficial uses. These are called Regional Water Quality Control Boards.


California water quality control regions
California Water Quality Control Regions We need a good starting place. That would be the

1. North Coast

2. Bay Area

3. Central Coast

4. Los Angeles

5. Central Valley

6. Lahontan

7. Colorado River

8. Santa Ana

9. San Diego


Discussion break1
Discussion Break We need a good starting place. That would be the

Why do you think the authority to regulate water quality was divided up in such a manner?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

II. The CWA is a large, complicated, piece of legislation. We need a good starting place. That would be the requirement that beneficialuses be assigned to all receiving waters. (cont.)

D. What are possible beneficial uses?

1. Municipal drinking water supply.

2. Habitat, cold water fish

3. Habitat, warm water fish

4. Contact recreation

5. Navigation

6. Many others.

(There will be a homework assignment next Thursday on this.)


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

III. The next step is to set Water Quality Standards to meet the beneficial uses. In California, they are called Water Quality Objectives (WQO).

A. The idea of WQO’s is that:

The quality of the water body in question be such that the beneficial uses are achieved. Recall that there are two categories of pollution effects, concentration and mass loading. The WQO’s must address both possibilities.


Discussion break2
Discussion Break the beneficial uses. In California, they are called

  • How might water quality objectives be set to meet concentration effects?

  • How might water quality objectives be set to meet mass loading effects?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

III. The next step is to set Water Quality Standards to meet the beneficial uses. In California, they are called Water Quality Objectives (WQO). (cont.)

B. A WQO may be narrative or numerical. An example of each is:

1. From the Los Angeles Region - narrative:

“Waters shall not contain biostimulatory substances in concentrations that promote aquatic growth to the extent that such growth causes nuisance of adversely affects beneficial uses.”


Discussion break3
Discussion Break the beneficial uses. In California, they are called

It should be obvious that:

“Waters shall not contain biostimulatory substances in concentrations that promote aquatic growth to the extent that such growth causes nuisance of adversely affects beneficial uses.”

Leaves much up to interpretation. Question, who likes this approach and who does not?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

2. From the Central Valley Region, American River - numerical:

“The concentration of copper shall not exceed 0.01 mg/L”


Discussion break4
Discussion Break the beneficial uses. In California, they are called

  • This standard is based on toxicity tests where the form of copper was the free ion, Cu+2, state. The free ion form has the greatest amount of toxicity.

  • In the American River, and any other receiving water, copper will exist in many states, Cu+2, inorganic complexes, and organic complexes and that is what we measure. The complexed forms have limited toxicity.

    Are there better ways to set this numerical standard? Pros? Cons?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

IV. Are there any other major guidelines for setting beneficial uses and water quality objectives?

Yes, in California, a state law, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act - 1970 provides guidance.

“Designated uses and water quality objectives must consider”:

A. Past, present, and future beneficial uses;

B. Environmental characteristics of the hydrologic unit in question;


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

IV. Are there any other major guidelines for setting beneficial uses and water quality objectives? Yes, in California, a state law, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act - 1970 provides guidance. “Designated uses and water quality objectives must consider”: (cont.)

C. Water quality conditions that could reasonably be achieved through the coordinated control of all factors which affect water quality in the area;

D. Economic considerations;


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

IV. Are there any other major guidelines for setting beneficial uses and water quality objectives? Yes, in California, a state law, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act - 1970 provides guidance. “Designated uses and water quality objectives must consider”: (cont.)

E. The need for developing housing within the region; and

F. The need to develop and use recycled water.


Discussion break5
Discussion Break beneficial uses and water quality objectives? Yes, in California, a state law, the

  • Past, present, and future beneficial uses;

  • Environmental characteristics of the hydrologic unit in question;

  • Water quality conditions that could reasonably be achieved through the coordinated control of all factors which affect water quality in the area;

  • Economic considerations;

  • The need for developing housing within the region; and

  • The need to develop and use recycled water.

Compare lower Colorado River with the Eel River.


Discussion break6
Discussion Break beneficial uses and water quality objectives? Yes, in California, a state law, the

  • The Federal Clean Water Act was passed by a democratic congress that had to override a republican presidential veto.

  • The California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act was passed by a democratic legislature and signed by a republican governor.

    Does this flavor differences in the two laws?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

V. Who sets the beneficial uses and water quality objectives? Who oversees the process?

A. In California, the beneficial uses and associated water quality objectives are set by the Regional Boards.

B. Oversight is provided by:

1. The State Water Quality Control Board.

2. The United States Environmental Protection Agency.

3. Civil lawsuits by affected third parties.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

V. Who sets the beneficial uses and water quality objectives? Who oversees the process? (cont.)

C. Is the administrative oversight (State Board and EPA) a two way street? Yes:

1. Dischargers may apply to the State Board to have stringent requirements relaxed. (Note, third parties can then sue the State Board under the CWA.)

2. The State Board and/or EPA may pressure regional boards to be more stringent.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

VI. What is the primary enforcement mechanism for meeting beneficial uses and water quality objectives?

A. The CWA requires that regulated dischargers obtain a discharge permit. That permit is called a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permit. That permit provides the legal enforcement tool to require actions and asses fines.


Discussion break7
Discussion Break beneficial uses and water quality objectives?

  • The term “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” with the word “elimination” is required by the Federal Clean Water Act.

  • Based on what you have seen of the California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, would you expect to see the word “elimination” used in such a context?

    Why? Why not? Connotations of the word “elimination”?


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

VI. What is the primary enforcement mechanism for meeting beneficial uses and water quality objectives? (cont.)

B. There are several features common to all NPDES Permits. Some important ones are:

1. Legal Authority - defines:

  • Provenance of authority to issue permit

  • What the discharger has the authority to do.

  • What the discharger does not have the authority to do.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

2. A series of definitions, among them:

  • What is a pollutant

  • What is a discharge

  • What is a discharge of a pollutant

    3. References to the CWA, etc.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

4. A requirement to file an annual report. This report is a “self-reporting” document that is available to the public.

5. A description of adequate fiscal resources available to implement the permit requirements.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

6. Who, the actual people, who are responsible for making sure the permit is carried out.

7. The term of the permit. This is typically five years.


Management of non point source pollution ce 296b

8. A section on Effluent Limitations

9. A section on Receiving Water Limitations

Next Thursday’s lecture will focus on these last two items.