The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding a series of public listening sessions to receive input from local government stakeholders on the agency’s efforts to develop a rule governing the management of stormwater overflows at municipal wastewater treatment plants during heavy rain events.
During rain events, stormwater runoff is meant to enter sewer systems for treatment. However, treatment facilities can get overwhelmed during heavy rain events. In these cases, the facilities are designed to divert “overflow” to a second facility for treatment before “blending” with the treated water from the primary plant. This process can be controversial, since the secondary treatment process is not as stringent as the primary.
In 2012, EPA attempted to ban the practice of blending, but was struck down in federal court, which ruled the ban went beyond the EPA’s statutory authority. In April 2018, the EPA announced efforts to develop a new rule regarding blending to provide certainty surrounding the management of heavy rain flows at wastewater treatment plants.
In a statement released on August 31, the EPA specifically stated the need to hear from local leaders prior to issuing a proposed rule. “Recognizing the years of experience individual cities, states, tribes, utilities, and other stakeholders have in managing wet weather challenges to efficient publicly owned treatment works operations (POTWs), EPA is undertaking a robust outreach effort to gather critical input prior to proposing any changes to its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations.”
The following public listening sessions will be held in October 2018:
- October 16, 2018, 9:00 a.m.; EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC
- October 24, 2018, 9:00 a.m.; EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, Kansas
- October 30, 2018, 11:00 am EDT; online listening session
To register for a listening session, visit www.epa.gov/npdes/municipal-wastewater. A transcript of remarks made at the listening sessions will be available at this website after each event.
The public can also submit written comments until October 31, 2018, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Please identify Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0420 in your comments.