Wednesday, July 27, 2022

EQB Meets Aug. 9 On Final Reg. Setting Manganese Toxics Water Quality Standard, RACT For Major Sources Of Nitrogen Oxides

Environmental Quality Board is scheduled to meet August 9 final regulation setting a science-based manganese standard of 0.3mg/L as a Water Quality Criteria for Toxic Substances to protect public health and environment and make the point of compliance for the standard at the point of discharge into a river or stream.

Also on the agenda is a final regulation setting RACT (Reasonably Available Control Technology Standards) for major sources of nitrogen oxides.

The Board could also hear an update on DEP’s review of rulemaking petitions the EQB accepted last November for review recommending higher bond plugging amounts for conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells.  Read more here [acceptance]  Read more here [Law Blocking Conventional Increase]

Manganese Standard

DEP is addressing a standard for manganese because a 2017 change in state law (Act 40), added at the last minute as part of a budget-related bill without public review, directed the Environmental Quality Board to adopt a proposed manganese standard within 90 days that includes a 1 milligram/liter manganese standard established under 25 Pa Code Chapter 93.7 and changing the point of compliance from the point pollution enters a stream to the point where it is taken out by a water user (25 Pa Code Chapter 96.3).

The 1 milligram/liter standard is 20 times the level of manganese that water suppliers are allowed to have in their water supplies, according to EPA’s secondary maximum contaminant level. Read more here..

The last minute change was a favor to the coal industry and shifts the burden for treating manganese discharges from mine sites and other sources from those who pollute the water to those using the water, like public water suppliers.

The change in law swept away 28 years of environmental protection for Pennsylvania waterways impacted by the consequences of acid mine drainage, and imposed additional testing, monitoring and treatment at public water supply operations along these waterways.

Local government groups, drinking water suppliers and many other groups opposed the last minute amendment, which Republican legislators ignored. Read More here.

DEP said it complied with Act 40 of 2017 by including what the law required at the proposed rulemaking stage of this regulation.

Public Comments

DEP said it received 957 comments on the proposed regulation-- 924 supporting of the protective 0.3my/L health standard and the existing point of compliance at the discharge point.

Three public water systems said changing the point of compliance to the point where the water is taken from a stream for use, from the existing point of compliance for the standard when water is discharged into a stream, would cost them an estimated $100 million.

Pennsylvania American Water said capital costs of moving the point of compliance to where water is taken from a stream would be $40-$60 million in capital costs, plus up to $1.4 million annually in operating costs.

Reading Area Authority estimated $2.1 million in capital costs, plus $15.8 million in 20 year operating costs.

The City of Lancaster said moving the point of compliance to where the water is taken out would result in tens of millions in capital costs and millions of dollars in lost water filtration plant efficiency.

Nine PA Sportsmen’s, watershed, environmental groups strongly supported the 0.3mg/L manganese Water Quality Criteria for Toxic Substances and not changing the existing point of compliance at the point of discharge, as well as the PA Rural Water Association, PA Municipal Authorities Association, Fish & Boat Commission, PA Environmental Council and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  Read more here.

DEP notes in its summary the Water Resources Advisory Committee and Public Water Systems Technical Assistance Center Board voted to support the final-form rulemaking and the Aggregate Advisory Board offered no comments.

The Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board passed a motion recommending the EQB not proceed with the final regulation.

The meeting will be held in Room 105 Rachel Carson Building starting at 9:00 a.m.  See webpage for remote options to join the meeting.

For more information and available handouts, visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage.  meeting.   Contact: Laura Griffin or 717-772-3277.

[Posted: July 27, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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