LEGAL WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES “Addressing Real Mine Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”
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LEGAL WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES “Addressing Real Mine Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems” SME Annual Conference. February 26, 2014. Presented by: Ronda Sandquist [email protected] November 14, 2014. Water Quality Standards. Uses/Criteria/Antidegradation

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LEGAL WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES “Addressing Real Mine Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”SME Annual Conference

February 26, 2014

Presented by:

Ronda Sandquist

[email protected]

November 14, 2014

Water quality standards
Water Quality Standards Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Uses/Criteria/Antidegradation

  • Water quality-based effluent limits are derived from Standards. 33 U.S.C. § 1313

Beneficial use of water determines standards
Beneficial Use of Water Determines Standards Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Uses =

    • Public water supplies

    • Protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, wildlife

    • Recreation (in and on the river)

    • Agricultural

    • Industrial

    • Navigation

      40 C.F.R. § 131.10(a)

Is water for a public water system
Is Water for a Public Water System Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Water for human consumption:

  • 15 service connections or

  • Serves 25 individuals daily at least 60 days a year. 40 C.F.R. § 141.2

What if any aquatic life fish shellfish bugs
What, if any aquatic life = Fish, Shellfish, Bugs Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Cold Water – trout/salmonids

  • Warm Water

    • Subspecies

  • Flow & Habitat

    • Location of reproducing, sustaining aquatic communities

  • Re-segment stream to refine to area with sustaining aquatic communities

  • Iowa re-segmentation to shorten streams and modify uses.

Fishable and swimmable waters
“Fishable and Swimmable Waters” Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • National Goal: wherever attainable  protect “fishable and swimmable waters” 33 U.S.C. § 1251

  • Use Attainability Analysis

    • Structured scientific assessment of current conditions

    • Factors (physical, chemical, biological, and economic)

    • Affecting attainment of the use 40 C.F.R. § 131.3

Agricultural uses
Agricultural Uses Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Crops/type of crops

  • Stock watering/wildlife

  • Location of diversions and type of crop

Examples boron and molybdenum
Examples: Boron and Molybdenum Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Boron: Purgatoire River, Lower Arkansas River Basin

    • Boron standards for boron-sensitive crops; if no boron-sensitive crops present, change the standard;

    • Instead of standard of .75 mg/L, adopted site-specific boron standards of 4.0 mg/L and 2.0 mg/L.

  • Molybdenum: Upper & Lower Colorado River Basin and N. Platte River

    • Molybdenum toxic in cattle if they do not have sufficient Copper in diet;

    • 160 µg/L standard does not assume copper supplementation;

    • If 48 mg/L in copper supplementation, molybdenum 300 µg/L.

Epa s section 304 a criteria
EPA’s Section 304(a) Criteria Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • “based on latest scientific information” on the relationship of effect of a constituent concentration on aquatic species/human health.

  • Numeric vs. narrative (permitted depending on designated use).

  • Metals: Arsenic, Selenium, Lead, Iron Magnesium.

    33 U.S.C. § 1314

Water criteria cont d
Water Criteria, cont’d Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”

  • Natural Occurrence – (ex: nitrates, TDS etc.)

  • Bio-accumulative

  • Risk Factor – can be multiplied

    • Fish; Water; Fish + water (eating/drinking)

  • Oregon Arsenic Risk Levels

    • “organism only” - 1.1 x 10-5

    • “water + organism” – 1 x 10-4

  • Maine Changed Risk Factor

    • any pollutant believed carcinogenic – 1 x 10-6

    • Except arsenic – 1 x 10 -4

  • Effluent limit guidelines elg 33 u s c 1311
    Effluent Limit Guidelines (“ELG”) Issues in Water Quality Regulatory Systems”33 U.S.C. § 1311

    • Existing Sources:

      • Toxics and non-conventional pollutants

      • Best Available Technology

    • New Sources:

      • Pollutants

      • Best Available Demonstrated Technology

    • Does Not Preclude State Water Quality Limits

    National effluent limitations for 21 major industries promulgated by epa
    National Effluent Limitations for 21 major industries, promulgated by EPA

    • Ore Mining – 40 C.F.R. § 440

    • Coal Mining – 40 C.F.R. § 434

    • Oil & Gas Extraction – 40 C.F.R. § 438

      (Except Coalbed Methane)

    Elg numeric limits
    ELG Numeric Limits promulgated by EPA

    • Best Management Practices, e.g. surface water diversion, berm construction, materials storage

    • “Fundamentally Different Factors” – exception to otherwise binding ELGs:

      • Why your operation is different than the operation upon which the ELG is based.

      • EPA is not required to include economic factors. EPA v. Natl. Crushed Stone Assn., 101 S. Ct. 295(1980).

    Discharge limits
    Discharge Limits promulgated by EPA

    • concentrations

    • loads

    • narrative limits

      If criteria are met  designated use is considered protected. 40 C.F.R § 131.3

    Are discharge limits necessary
    Are Discharge Limits Necessary? promulgated by EPA

    • Reasonable Potential to Cause Exceedance

    • Or any State water quality standard - 40 C.F.R.§122.44(d)(1)(i)

    • Calculating NPDES permit conditions.

      • Production-based limits

      • Metals = “total recoverable metal”

      • Non-continuous discharges

      • Mass limitations

      • Pollutants in discharge water

      • Internal waste streams40 C.F.R. § 122.45

    Secondary drinking water regulations
    Secondary Drinking Water Regulations promulgated by EPA

    • Not health-based; intended to protect taste/odor of water for human consumption.

    • Chloride, Iron, Copper, Manganese, ,TDS, Zinc

    • Not federally enforceable, only intended as guidelines for states

    • Application of Antidegradation?

    Impaired waters total maximum daily loads tmdls
    Impaired Waters & Total Maximum Daily Loads (“TMDLs”) promulgated by EPA

    TMDLs required for impaired waters/303(d) Listing


    • Identify pollutant of concern;

    • Estimate water body’s assimilative capacity;

    • Identify the pollutant contributions from all significant sources;

    • Determine the total allowable pollutant load;

    • Allocate allowable pollutant loads among sources;

    • Margin of Safety

    Chesapeake bay tmdl lawsuit
    Chesapeake Bay TMDL Lawsuit promulgated by EPA

    • EPA established annual and daily waste load allocations for individual sources.

    • The district court refused to vacate final TMDLs for nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment in Chesapeake Bay.

    • EPA’s establishment TMDL of waste load allocation from point sources and load allocations from non-point sources, then further dividing allocations among various sectors (e.g. agriculture, stormwater, wastewater, etc.), did not exceed EPA’s authority.

    • Appeal pending in 3rd Circuit

      Am. Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. U.S. E.P.A., 1:11-CV-0067, 2013 WL 5177530 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 13, 2013)

    Impaired designation effects new expanded discharges
    Impaired Designation Effects New/Expanded Discharges promulgated by EPA

    • Pinto Creek on impaired water list for copper.

    • Environmental groups challenged discharge to Pinto Creek for copper to mining company.

    • Court vacated and remanded permit. Friends of Pinto Creek v. EPA, 504 F.3d 1007 (9th Cir. 2007)

    • New sources and discharges cannot “contribute to the violation of water quality standards” unless:

      • Sufficient remaining pollutant load AND subject to compliance schedule. 40 CFR § 122.4(i)

    Intake credits
    Intake Credits promulgated by EPA

    • Permit limitations cannot require treatment for pollutants in intake water.

    • Federal rules also allow intake credit in NPDES permit:

      • Discharger must request it;

      • No credit for generic pollutants unless demonstrate constituents are substantially similar to constituents of generic measure in intake water OR appropriate additional limits placed on process water pollutants;

      • Credit granted only to “extent necessary,” up to maximum value equal to effluent value;

      • Must be drawn from the same water body that will receive the discharge;

      • Does not apply to discharge of raw water clarifier sludge from treatment of intake water. 40 C.F.R. § 122.45(g)

    • Intake Credits authorized in “Great Lakes Initiative” 40 C.F.R. § 132 et seq

    Whole effluent toxicity wet
    Whole Effluent Toxicity (“WET”) promulgated by EPA

    PURPOSE: protect aquatic organisms from “aggregate effects” of pollutants.

    Applicants must conduct tests with multiple species (no less than two species, e.g. fish, invertebrate, plant)

    TWO TYPES OF TESTS (depends on range of receiving water dilution):

    • Acute: Daphnia Puplex & Daphnia magna acute; Fathead minnow

    • Chronic: Ceriodaphniadubia; Fathead minnow, Pimephalespromelas;

      40 C.F.R. §§ 122.21; 136.3, Table IA (test procedures)

    Changing wet test species in a region
    Changing WET Test Species in a Region promulgated by EPA

    • Application submitted to state Director of NPDES program; Application to EPA Region; Alternate Test Procedure (“ATP”) Coordinator with recommendation “for” or “against.”

    • Application must include:

      • justification for using testing procedures other than those specified in federal rules or in the NPDES permit,

      • detailed description of proposed alternate test,

      • references to published or other studies and

      • comparability data for the performance of the proposed alternative test procedure;

    • Approval/Disapproval; or approval with restrictions. 40 C.F.R. § 136.5

    Wet substitute test species
    WET Substitute Test Species promulgated by EPA

    • EXAMPLE: Pinal Creek, AZ

    • Water treatment facility treating acidic groundwater to neutralize acidity and remove metals.

    • Standard freshwater species for WET testing: Ceriodaphnia dubia, Pimephales promelas and Raphidocelis subcapitata

    • Final Report approved:

      • Ceriodaphnia dubia = problematic because most sensitive to TDS; and

      • Daphnia magna and Hyakka azteca were approved for monitoring toxicity

    Antidegradation promulgated by EPA

    Antidegradation limits based on three tiers of waters:

    1) Use-protected (Tier 1) – maintain and protect existing uses;

    2) High quality waters (Tier 2) – degradation allowed if necessary to support important social and economic development;

    3) Outstanding natural resources waters (“ONRW”) – (Tier 3) – high quality must be maintained and protected.

    40 C.F.R. § 131.12

    Antidegradation alternative analysis
    Antidegradation “Alternative Analysis” promulgated by EPA

    If “significant degradation”  2 Step Alternatives Analysis considers:

    • Is the regulated activity important to the economic and social development in the area?

    • Is the degradation “necessary” = there are no “economically reasonable” less degrading alternatives?

    Water quality trading wqt
    Water Quality Trading (“WQT”) promulgated by EPA

    Innovative approach to achieve water quality standards with flexibility and economic efficiency.

    2 Types of WQT:

    • Point source trading – Discharger provides reduction beyond permit requirements.

    • Nonpoint source trading – Projects or practices to reduce/remove nonpoint source pollutants.

    Idaho s water quality pollutant trading program
    Idaho’s Water Quality Pollutant Trading Program: promulgated by EPA

    • Trading parties enter into private contracts to buy/sell credits;

    • Contracts do not need to be approved by the state or EPA;

    • Non-point trades: measured or calculated credits;

    • Short-term trades permissible, i.e. purchase of credits for a 30 day period.

    Check list of options to consider
    Check List of Options to Consider promulgated by EPA

    • Revised Water Quality Standards – Uses & Site-Specific Conditions

    • Goals vs. Standards (Secondary Drinking Water)

    • ELGs – Fundamentally Different Factors

    • TMDLs

    • Intake Credits

    • WET Testing

    • Alternatives Analysis

    • Water Quality Trading

    Questions ? promulgated by EPA

    Ronda L. Sandquist, Esq. .

    [email protected]