Mayors Briefed on New Federal Water Mandates
By Judy Sheahan
December 20, 2010
Mayors were briefed at the Mayors Water Council Summit on December 8 on a litany of new federal water mandates that will be impacting their communities in the areas of wastewater, water quality standards, drinking water, and ocean water quality. Susan Parker Bodine, with Barnes and Thornburg and Adrienne Nemura of Limno Tech, outlined the new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Some of the highlights of their presentation are provided below. A copy of the power point presentation is available to download from the website: usmayors.org/watercouncil.
In the area of wastewater, EPA issued a memorandum in November to the regional offices outlining new policies for stormwater controls and treatment of stormwater under TMDLs (total maximum daily load). The biggest change is a shift from a previous EPA memorandum issued in 2002, which allowed the use of Best Management Practices to now requiring numeric limits in stormwater permits. This guidance was issued without any consultation with local or state governments. In addition to this memorandum, EPA is also doing a separate rulemaking on stormwater. EPA is seeking local and state government input before issuing a proposed rule sometime next year.
In addition, there will be new stormwater regulations for the states and communities that impact the Chesapeake Bay that may have future national significance. For the states and communities that impact the Chesapeake Bay, EPA is planning to expand the universe of regulated stormwater discharge, develop more stringent requirements on new development and redevelopment, and retrofitting existing developed areas to reduce runoff. This approach may be a prototype for watershed protection in other parts of the nation.
Water Quality Standards
EPA will be revising their water quality standards regulations with a proposal expected next summer. EPA is considering changes to provisions related to anti-degradation, designated uses, variances, compliance schedules, listing impaired waters, and triennial reviews. At issue is if the rule can be used to make the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and TMDLs more stringent.
The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments require the monitoring of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants every five years and requires the review of at least five unregulated contaminants every five years to determine if regulation is needed. A new list will be proposed in 2011, finalized in 2012, and monitoring will begin in 2013. (For a list of the proposed contaminants, visit the website: usmayors.org/watercouncil.)
Ocean Water Quality
In November, EPA issued a memorandum called "Integrated Reporting and Listing Decisions Related to Ocean Acidification" which would allow states to place water bodies on the impaired list that fail to meet the marine pH criteria even if the impairment is caused by atmospheric sources. If a water body is listed, the state must develop a TMDL. Municipal dischargers already have to monitor for pH.