Wednesday, March 27, 2013

National Rivers and Stream Assessment Report Released

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the 2008-2009 National Rivers and Stream Assessment. The survey looked at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, and reported that about 55% are in poor condition for aquatic life. The report findings include:

  • Nitrogen and phosphorus are at excessive levels. An estimated 27% of the nation’s rivers and streams have excessive levels of nitrogen, and 40% have high levels of phosphorus.
  • Streams and rivers are at an increased risk due to decreased vegetation cover and increased human disturbance. These conditions can cause streams and rivers to be more vulnerable to flooding, erosion, and pollution. Approximately 24% of the rivers and streams monitored were rated poor due to the loss of healthy vegetative cover.
  • Increased bacteria levels. High bacteria levels were found in 9% of stream and river miles making those waters potentially unsafe for swimming and other recreation.
  • Increased mercury levels. More than 13,000 miles of rivers have fish with mercury levels that may be unsafe for human consumption.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.
Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website


Monday, March 25, 2013

EPA Adds Impaired Waters To West Virginia 303D List

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has responded to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) proposed list of impaired waterways in West Virginia. The list includes 1,176 waterways previously designated as impaired by the State, and an additional 255 waterways identified by EPA, based on the State’s current water quality standards.

In its response, EPA acknowledged WVDEP’s position that it is precluded by Senate Bill No. 562 from evaluating waters for aquatic life uses pending adoption of a new methodology for evaluating waterways. EPA identified the additional waterways, representing more than 1,000 miles of rivers and streams, based on its review of readily available State data. The agency reviewed the information using substantially the same methodology that West Virginia has used to review this type of data in the past.

EPA will publish a notice of the proposed additions in the federal register on or before April 15, which will begin a 30-day public comment period. EPA will review all of the comments and make changes to the proposed list as appropriate.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.
Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Water Standards For Selenium Proposed In Kentucky

The Kentucky Division of Water has been conducting the triennial review of the state’s water quality standards since early 2012. Recently, the agency had proposed regulations address a number of changes to the water quality standards and included proposed deletion of the acute water quality criterion for selenium.

The proposal to delete the acute standard was based on the Division’s findings that the current state standard, which was derived from USEPA guidance, was not based on sound science. USEPA Region 4 commented on the proposed deletion and identified three options: (1) leave the current acute criterion in place and wait for release of any revisions to USEPA’s selenium criteria, (2) adopt the acute criterion from USEPA’s current national guidance, or (3) adopt an alternate criterion based on other scientifically defensible guidance.

In response, the Division conducted a survey of recent studies of selenium toxicity to aquatic species and determined that it was appropriate to develop state-specific water quality criteria for selenium. The agency is proposing an acute criterion for warmwater aquatic habitat of 258 ug/L, with an alternate calculation option depending on the sulfate concentration that is present. The proposed chronic criterion for warmwater aquatic habitat is 8.6 ug/g (dry weight) of whole fish tissue or 19.2 ug/g (dry weight) of fish egg/ovary tissue. The analysis of fish tissue is triggered when the water column concentration of selenium exceeds 5.0 ug/L. If the water column result is less than or equal to 5.0 ug/L, the water body is meeting is aquatic life uses. If the water column result is greater than 5.0 ug/L, then the next step is to determine whether the site is attaining the fish tissue or egg/ovary tissue criterion.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.

Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website


Changes Considered To Minnesota Water Quality Regulations

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing to make some revisions to Minnesota Rules Chapters 7050, 7052 and 7053. The amendments proposed for this rulemaking are the result of the 2008 public review of Minnesota’s water quality standards. The scope of this rulemaking will address six areas of the water quality standards:
  1. River Eutrophication — numeric nutrient standards for rivers, streams, the Mississippi River pools and Lake Pepin.
  2. Total Suspended Solid (TSS) — replacement of the existing standard for water turbidity with more scientifically accurate, region-specific TSS standards.
  3. Human Health Methods — updates to the methods used for establishing the Class 2 chronic water quality standards to protect human health.
  4. Process for listing Class 2A waters as cold water communities/trout waters — refine the current basis for classifying Class 2A waters to also include biological information on the aquatic communities.
  5. Class 3 Waters — update the basis for identifying Class 3 waters and remove the numeric standards.
  6. Other changes to use classifications — regular review and updates to Class 1 and Class 7 Limited Resource Value Waters.
The MPCA anticipates to conduct public informational meetings in Summer 2013 and to publish proposed rules in Fall 2013. Final rules would be effective in Spring 2014

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients in Minnesota and nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.

Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Antidegradation Requirements For Discharges To Wisconsin Impaired Waters

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released its draft guidance document “TMDL Development and Implementation Guidance: Integrating the WPDES and Impaired Waters Programs” for a 21-day public comment period. In addition to providing a framework for developing and implementing permit limits for discharges to 303d listed impaired waters, the draft guidance also addresses the WDNR approach to antidegradation requirements.

Under the draft guidance, if the new TMDL-derived limit results in an increase in an effective existing limit in a permit, then an antidegradation evaluation is needed. The initial imposition of a water quality-based effluent limit, which include TMDL-derived limits, does not require an antidegradation evaluation as long as the pollutant of concern was previously present in the discharge and the permittee is not proposing an increased load to the receiving water . According to the WDNR, possible exceptions include the initial imposition of a TMDL-derived limit for a discharge to Exceptional and Outstanding Resource Waters, for a bioaccumulative chemical of concern such as mercury when an increased discharge is proposed, and when a change in discharge location is proposed.

With a few exceptions, Wisconsin chapter NR 207 requires an antidegradation evaluation when a new or increased discharge is proposed. Therefore, an antidegradation evaluation is necessary before a TMDL-derived limit, which has been incorporated into a WPDES permit and has become effective, is increased or the TMDL-derived limit replaces a less restrictive effective effluent limit.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients in Wisconsin and nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.
Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Use of ASTM D7575 Method For Oil and Grease Measurement

US EPA has published its final decision on its reconsideration of the methods used by NPDES permittees to test for Oil and Grease. In the 2010 proposed Methods Update Rule (MUR), EPA discussed a new method, ASTM D7575, for oil and grease. The agency subsequently published a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) on this method that provided new data and requested comment on whether and how EPA should approve the method in Part 136 as an alternative oil and grease method.

As background, EPA establishes test procedures in 40 CFR Part 136. When EPA has promulgated a test procedure for analysis of a specific pollutant, an NPDES permittee must use an approved test procedure for the specific pollutant However, 40 CFR Part 136 also recognizes that new technologies and approaches are constantly being developed, including methods for pollutants for which EPA already has an approved test procedure. The CWA allows for use of an alternate method for a specific pollutant or parameter that is different from the approved test procedure (i.e., limited use approval). Requests for such uses, along with supporting data, are made to the applicable Regional Alternate Test Procedure (ATP) Coordinator for consideration and approval.

Unlike many parameters, oil and grease is not a unique chemical entity, but is a mixture of chemical species that varies from source to source. Common substances that may contribute to oil and grease include petroleum based compounds such as fuels, motor oil, lubricating oil, soaps, waxes, and hydraulic oil and vegetable based compounds such as cooking oil and other fats. Currently, Part 136 lists EPA Method 1664A for the measurement of oil and grease.

In 2010, EPA proposed to add new and revised EPA methods to its Part 136 test procedures. Among other methods, EPA described, but did not approve, three oil and grease methods, ASTM D7575, ASTM D7066 and Standard Methods 5520. Because EPA expressed interest in the use of solvent-free methods, EPA evaluated the ASTM D7575 method for the measurement of oil and grease and announced it was re-considering its decision not to include ASTM D7575 in 40 CFR Part 136 as an alternative to EPA Method 1664A for measuring oil and grease.

After consideration, EPA concluded that ASTM D7575 is a good stand alone method for the measurement of oil and grease. However, EPA also concluded that the case has not yet been made that ASTM D7575 should be approved for nationwide use as an alternative oil and grease method. However, EPA considered various approaches for allowing its use as an alternative to approved methods. EPA has concluded such determinations should be made on a case by case basis rather than a nationwide basis.

EPAs approach to approve ASTM D7575 as an alternative oil and grease method requires permittees to demonstrate comparability (side-by-side data) to the permitting authority. To determine comparability for a specific application, with approval of the ATP Coordinator, a permittee could use the specific side by side comparison procedures. Under this approach, a permittee would only be able to use ASTM D7575 if the recommended procedures demonstrated comparability.

EPA anticipates that requests for the use of ASTM D7575 as an alternative oil and grease method could be widespread, and wants to ensure that such requests are handled consistently. EPA recommends that applicants demonstrate comparability by conducting a side-by-side comparison using the specific procedures recommended in the guidance document that was developed when Method 1664A was promulgated. Comparability could be shown if this side by side comparison demonstrates there is no significant difference between the promulgated method and ASTM D7575. EPA notes that such requests may provide sufficient additional data to allow EPA at a later date to later make a nationwide determination on the approval of ASTM D7575 as an alternative oil and grease method.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.
Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website