Monday, March 2, 2009

Water Quality Standards - Antidegradation Rules in Ohio

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently in the process of revising State Rules relating to Water Quality Standards and Antidegradation (Non-Degradation). The draft Rules are being published independently; however, because all the Rules are interrelated, OEPA has extended the public comment period.

The draft Rules applying to Antidegradation were released for comment near the end of 2008. Some of the key revisions being proposed include:

  • The definition of “best available demonstrated control technology” (BADCT) is being updated to include new design criteria and effluent limits for nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Definitions for “designated uses”, “existing uses”, and “threatened species” are being removed since these definitions are located in the Water Quality Standards Rule.
  • Definitions for “local and regional drainage pattern”, “loss of use”, “preferred alternative”, and “40 C.F.R.” are being added.
  • The types of alternatives to be considered under the definitions for “minimal degradation alternative” and “non-degradation alternative” are being clarified.
  • The definition of “regulated pollutant” is being revised to clarify that parameters include narrative and numeric water quality criteria and those limited by best professional judgment in a NPDES permit.
  • The rule exemption in paragraph for net increases from existing sources is being clarified.
    Applications for Section 401 water quality certifications for wetlands will be exempt from the submital of alternatives analysis and social and economic justification information
  • Section 401 water quality certifications impacting Lake Erie or its shoreline will be exempt from the mandatory public hearing
  • New language is included regarding what constitutes the loss of a beneficial use.
  • The set aside revision process for special high quality waters in is being clarified.
  • The tables of special high quality waters are being updated.

The deadline for comments on the draft rule has not been determined yet. A draft rule addressing mitigation requirements or impacts on streams will be made available for review and comment in early 2009. Because the content of that rule relates to part of the antidegradation rule, the comment deadline for both rules will be 60 days after the stream mitigation rule is made available.

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