EPA Chesapeake Bay TMDL
EPA released the final Chesapeake Bay TMDL on December 31, 2010 as promised. This will set the so-called “pollution diet” for the Bay from all point and non-point sources in the 6-state (plus Washington, D.C.) Bay drainage area. The TMDL contained good news for impacted PA sewage treatment plants.
EPA removed their proposed backstops of 3 mg/l TN and 0.1 mg/l TP for sewage treatment plants (that had appeared in an earlier version of the TMDL), keeping in place the current reduction limits of 6 mg/l TN and 0.8 mg/l TP. These backstops were to provide additional reductions from sewage treatment plants to cover the anticipated lack of reductions from non-point sources. DEP pushed EPA hard to honor the original numbers PMAA had negotiated in 2007. The PA backstop now deals with concerted efforts to achieve reductions from the stormwater sector.
Chesapeake Bay Update
A number of national and state agricultural interests have appealed the right of EPA to develop a TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay. Their suit essentially claims that federal law does not give EPA the power to set a TMDL, to identify specific sources for reduction, to set reduction figures or a timeline for compliance. They argue EPA has overstepped their legal bounds, that the law only gives EPA oversight after a state has adopted a TMDL, and therefore that EPA should be ordered to rescind their TMDL. The National Home Builders Association recently filed a similar lawsuit which is now combined with the original American Farm Bureau Federation lawsuit.
Several environmental organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, have entered the case as intervenors arguing EPA does have the authority to develop a TMDL and set limits. Wastewater associations in Virginia and Maryland have now entered as intervenors. In June 2011 PMAA also filed a motion and brief to be an intervenor.
This October the Court ruled in favor of EPA, upholding their right to establish a Bay TMDL. The American Farm Bureau Federation and other plaintiffs have now appealed this outcome to the 3rd District Court.
Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Reports
Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR), also known as annual water quality reports, must be delivered to drinking water customers on or before July 1st of each year. Community water systems (CWS) are required by law to provide customers with a CCR listing the regulated contaminants the authority detected in treated water and the level at which they were found for the preceding calendar year.
DEP’s Consumer Confidence Reporting System
Development of Environmental Regulations in Pennsylvania
Municipal authorities, as well as other units of local government, are subject to numerous regulations, which form the basis for a wide variety of permitting, record-keeping and reporting, compliance monitoring and assessment and, in some cases, enforcement activities. Most of these activities center on environmental and public health protection.
All regulations must be reviewed and approved, both as proposed and final rule making, by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) which normally meets monthly.
Prior to developing or revising a regulation, DEP programs typically discuss such changes with one or more Advisory Committees. PMAA has member representatives on several of DEP’s Advisory Committees.
The entire process by which any DEP regulation is proposed, reviewed and finalized is quite lengthy and complex and is governed by the PA Regulatory Review Act. It is not unusual for this process to take up to two years. The Regulatory Process flowchart outlines the procedure.
On-line access to all state environmental regulations is available at PA Code Online and are listed as various Articles and Chapters under Title 25: Environmental Protection. On-line access to all state environmental regulations being proposed are available at PA Bulletin.
While Pennsylvania’s environmental regulations are numerous and complex, DEP has found it necessary to further clarify the intent of many regulations through development of supplemental technical guidance documents. Like regulations, development of a technical guidance generally involves going through a public participation process (including use of advisory committees).
DEP Program Areas