Saturday, January 25, 2020

2 DEP Advisory Committees To Review Draft Chapter 105 Reg. Changes; Final Chapter 91/92A NPDES Fee Changes; Overview Of Draft 2020 Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report

DEP’s Agricultural Advisory Board is scheduled to meet on January 27 and the Water Resources Advisory Committee on January 30 to discuss several water quality fee packages and changes Chapter 105 Dam Safety and Encroachment regulations.
Both advisory committees will also see an overview of the draft 2020 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report [303(d) and 305(b) report].
Chapter 105 Revisions
Both advisory committees will review draft comprehensive revisions to the Chapter 105 Dam Safety and Encroachment regulations. Among other changes, the draft includes--
-- Additional Permit Waivers for streambank fencing, passive non-motorized recreation, elevated boardwalks in wetlands for educational purpose and trails, emergency water withdrawal, temporary mats and pads in wetlands and temporary environmental testing;
-- Updates Provisions Related to stormwater and floodplain management;
-- Adds alternatives analysis description;
-- Updates mitigation plan terms;
-- Adds antidegradation demonstration;
-- Clarifies impacts and cumulative impacts analysis;
-- Adds provisions for enrollment to the Private Dame Financial Assurance Program;
-- Provides new criteria for aquatic resource restoration activities;
-- Revises provisions related to compensation for impacts to aquatic resources and no net loss of wetlands;
-- Revises siting criteria for consistence with mitigation banking, in lieu fee and permittee compensation;
-- Changes provisions related to the removal of dams and abandonment of water obstructions; and
-- Clarifies flood design criteria.
Final Chapter 91/92a Fees
Both advisory committees will review final proposed changes to wastewater and NPDES water quality permits fees under Chapters 91 and 92a.  DEP began the process to update these fees in 2016.
Chapter 91 wastewater facility fees have not been increased since 1971 and NPDES permit fees were last increased in 2010.
The Water Quality permit fee increases (Chapter 91) would cover from 500 to 600 applicants annually and the NPDES permit fee increases (Chapter 92a) would cover approximately 4,000 facilities. 
In the final regulation, DEP is proposing to decrease fees from what it originally proposed for most of the permits covered in Chapters 91 and 92a.
DEP is also removing provisions related to adjusting the fees every two years based on the of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index for State and Local Government Compensation.
DEP’s final Chapter 91 proposal decreases the permit application for manure storage and wastewater impoundments by $1,500 from the original proposal to $1,000.  The fee for new or reissuance of a joint pesticides permit would also be reduced by $250 from what was originally proposed to $250.
DEP is proposing to decrease the Chapter 92a fees from what they originally proposed for small flow treatment facilities, minor sewage and industrial facilities, industrial stormwater and CAFO (livestock farms).
The final fee package for most categories of permits has fees that continue to be significantly ess than those of most neighboring states.
Since 2007, DEP’s Clean Water Program staff has been reduced by 25 percent due to cuts in state General Fund appropriations.
DEP believes 25 additional staff are necessary in the Bureau of Clean Water to adequately carry out its responsibilities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told DEP several times since 2010 the agency does not have adequate resources to carry out its federally mandated responsibilities for the NPDES Program, including the MS4 Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program.
As originally proposed, DEP’s changes would increase permit fees to make up for cuts in General Fund appropriations a total of $6 million-- Chapter 92a NPDES-- $5 million-- and Chapter 91 Water Quality-- $1 million-- permit fees.
The revised fee structure will result in less revenue to support these clean water programs.
2020 Water Quality Report
Both advisory committees will hear an overview of DEP’s draft 2020 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, including a new online integrated Assessment Storymap presentation that will be used to help gather public input on the draft.
Every two years the federal Clean Water Act requires DEP to update its Water Quality Assessment report which evaluates whether waterbodies across Pennsylvania are achieving the water standards that protect clean water. 
Streams, lakes, rivers, and other water resources are evaluated on how well each waterway is meeting its assessed use, such as drinking water supply, aquatic life, recreation, and fish consumption.
The reports contains lists of streams that have impaired water quality and helps set priorities for restoration of impaired waterbodies.
The 2018 Assessment Report found 40 percent of the streams in Pennsylvania still do not meet water quality standards as a result primarily of pollution from agricultural and stormwater runoff and abandoned coal mines.
The 2018 Assessment also included an interactive online map that allows users to check to see how good the water quality is in streams near their homes or businesses
Chapter 102 Fee Report
On January 27, the Agricultural Advisory Board will hear a presentation on DEP’s Chapter 102 Erosion and Sedimentation Fee Report analyzing the adequacy of fees to cover the costs of this program for DEP and county conservation districts.
The report concludes the fees collected now are projected to cover only about 75 percent of DEP’s cost to administer the Chapter 102 program and about 90 percent of county conservation district costs over the next three years.
The report shows DEP’s fee revenue for the program has run a deficit of as high as $738,783 (FY 2017-18) in the last four fiscal years ending in FY 2017-18.
Conservation district fee revenue has run a deficit of as high as $2.479,709 (FY 2017-18) in each of the last six fiscal years ending in FY 2018-19.
DEP is recommending it draft a regulation to increase Chapter 102 permit fees to make up for these deficits.
In June of 2019, the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee issued a report saying DEP has not sought an increase in fees to supplement funding for the Chapter 102 program for some time and recommended it complete a fee report to request a fee increase.
Meeting Places/Times
The Agricultural Advisory Board will meet on January 27 at the DEP Southcentral Regional Office, 909 Elmerton Avenue in Harrisburg starting at 9:30 a.m.  
For more information and available handouts, visit DEP’s Agricultural Advisory Board webpage.  Questions should be directed to Jay Braund by calling 717-772-5636 or send email to:
The Water Resources Advisory Committee will meet on January 30 in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building starting at 9:30 a.m.
For more information and available handouts, visit DEP’s Water Resources Advisory Committee webpage.  Questions should be directed to Diane Wilson by calling 717-787-3730 or send email to:
(Photo: From 2018 Water Quality Assessment Report interactive map.  Red is bad.)
Related Articles - Water Quality:
[Posted: January 26, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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