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Water Quality Standards-based Effluent Limitations: Fate versus Self-determination Bill Van Derveer.

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Presentation on theme: "Water Quality Standards-based Effluent Limitations: Fate versus Self-determination Bill Van Derveer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Water Quality Standards-based Effluent Limitations: Fate versus Self-determination Bill Van Derveer

2 Objectives Describe water quality standards (WQS) development process Characterize potential effects of water quality standards-based effluent limits (WQSBELs) on WWTFs, ratepayers, & industrial users Describe how WQS can be refined to increase site- specificity and achieve statutory objectives Demonstrate benefits of discharger participation in WQS adoption processes Propose an approach for discharger involvement in WQS adoption processes

3 Premise Convert a Societal Waste to a Resource Provide Service at Minimal Cost & Impact Ratepayer, Environmental, & Industrial Objectives Achieved Ratepayers Regulators Environmentalists Avoiding Environmental Protection Industrial Users Involvement in WQS process facilitates objectives achievement Statutes/Regulations

4 Fate vs. Self-determination Conventional Definitions Fate An inevitable and often adverse outcome Self-determination Determination of one's own fate or course of action WQS Context Definitions Fate WQS defined by regulators, environmental groups, and special interests, although WWTF may be most affected through WQSBELs Self-determination WWTF participation yields WQS that reflect site-specific conditions and assure environmental protection: – Improving WQSBEL accuracy – Controlling WWTF cost/risk

5 Pathway to WQSBELs National Water Quality Criteria Federal Clean Water Act State Water Quality Standards State Use Classifications State Water Quality Act Segment Water Quality Standards Reasonable Potential Analysis Segment Use Classifications TMDLs & Antidegradation WQSBELs

6 Ammonia Metals/metalloids Some anions (e.g., sulfate & chloride) Nutrients (nitrogen & phosphorus) Future –Organic compounds (e.g., consumer pesticides) –Pharmaceuticals & personal care products (e.g., antibiotics) –Endocrine distruptors WWTFs are not designed to treat most WQSBEL parameters Parameters Subject to WQSBELs

7 WQSBELs Sophisticated Compliance Systems Decreased Infrastructure Value/Life Stringent Pretreatment Local Limits Increased Noncompliance Risk No Effect (WQSBEL >> Effluent Conc.) Require Capital Improvements Reduced Operational Flexibility Potential Effects of WQSBELs on WWTFs

8 Stream Low Flow Stream Background Effluent Design Flow Water Quality Standard Stream + Effluent Flow Effluent Limit Anatomy of a WQSBEL

9 Regional Importance of WQSBELs WQS is only parameter in WQSBEL equation that can be significantly modified Effluent dominated/dependent waters common in arid/semi-arid West –WQS applied with little or no dilution

10 Why Refine WQS? Clean Water Act: “Restore & maintain the physical, chemical, & biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” Aquatic life WQS tend to be most stringent Most WQS are one-size-fits-all –Intended to protect nearly all species in U.S. Small toxicological data sets for most pollutants Driven by most sensitive species Data characteristics yield conservative estimates of “safe” concentrations –Limited site-specific adjustment Hardness-based metals pH- & temperature-based ammonia National criteria may be a poor fit for some sites –Regulatory provisions for improving accuracy of WQS at the site level

11 Potential Differences Between National Database & Specific Site Simple laboratory exposures vs. complex ecosystem Different species composition & relative sensitivities Constituents of natural waters effect bioavailability Variation in pollutant form or species Aquatic cycling processes & food web structure –Waterbody type: Streams vs. Lakes/Reservoirs –Habitat type: Erosional vs. depositional –Hydraulic residence time –Exposure routes, frequencies & duration –Bioaccumulation potential

12 WQS Refinement Opportunities for a Hypothetical Population of Sites WQS Refinement Candidates National Criterion

13 WQS Refinement Alternatives EPA Recalculation Procedure EPA Resident Species Procedure EPA Indicator Species / Water Effect Ratio Procedure –Biotic ligand model Other scientific basis –Ambient-based WQS Natural or uncontrollable human-caused conditions –Seasonal implementation or modification (ELS) –Temporary modification Uncertainty regarding appropriate WQS Re-segmentation –To focus WQS refinement efforts Change designated use

14 WQSBEL Sensitivity Analysis Assumes: Stream low flow = 5 cfs, Stream background = 2 ug/L Greater than 1:1 return in WQSBEL ~4.2:1 ~1.6:1 ~1.3:1 Minimum return is 1:1

15 Recommended Approach & Resource Allocation Segment  Federal  State  Segment Receiving water monitoring (15% of resources) Objective Understand physical, chemical & biological characteristics –USGS partnership or watershed association National criteria development, adoption, or modification (10% of resources) Objectives Ensure adequacy of underlying data, analysis, & assumptions Promote flexibility for subsequent refinement –Monitor Federal initiatives Federal/trade publications, web sites, & email distributions –Influence Federal actions Provide input to National/regional trade organizations & coalitions Prepare independent comments

16 Recommended Approach (cont’d) Statewide WQS development, adoption, or modification (35% of resources) Objectives Ensure relevance of National criteria to statewide conditions Ensure adequacy of State’s underlying data, analysis, & assumptions Ensure flexibility for site-level refinement –Monitor Statewide initiatives Review State publications and web sites Participate in trade associations/councils Attend informational hearings –Influence Statewide actions Participate in stakeholder groups Participate in trade associations/councils & coalitions Submit independent comments and/or provide testimony

17 Recommended Approach (cont’d) Segment WQS adoption or modification (40% of resources) Objectives Ensure WQS are protective but not over-protective Secure site-specific refinement if appropriate –Plan for upcoming hearings Define potential issues Identify stakeholders & their perspectives –Perform site-specific studies Plan & execute in advance of hearings whenever possible Promote stakeholder involvement –Participate in hearings Seek regulatory agency acceptance in prehearing statement Provide independent written & oral testimony

18 Return on Investment Analysis Relatively small cost avoidance = positive ROI

19 Potential Outcomes Relevant National/statewide standards –Refinement is unnecessary Site-specific WQS refinement –Less stringent: WWTF, ratepayer, & industrial impacts reduced –Refinement is effort unsuccessful –More stringent: greater environmental protection justified Regardless of WQS refinement success –Improved positioning for permit renewal More data for reasonable potential analysis, antidegradation reviews, & WQSBELs –Greater understanding of compliance risks/priorities Information to refine capital improvement plans & budget –Data availability of other regulatory issues 305B reporting, 303(d) list issues, & TMDL development

20 Conclusions WQSBELs can have manifold impacts on WWTFs, ratepayers, & industrial users Involvement in WQS process allows WWTFs to (partially) determine their regulatory fate National or statewide WQS can be a poor fit to a given site Site-specific WQS refinement can help manage WWTF impacts and achieve statutory objectives Portfolio of WWTF efforts is recommended –Greatest emphasis on segment & statewide levels Significant positive return on investment is likely Yields peripheral benefits regardless of success at WQS refinement

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