California’s State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) staff have developed a proposed Amendment to the current Storm Water Industrial General Permit (IGP), adopted April 2014, effective July 2015.
As described in our 21 March 2016 blog post, Attachment E of the current IGP identified a list of 303(d)-listed water bodies within the San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Diego Regional Water Board jurisdictions that are impaired by one or more pollutants typically associated with industrial stormwater discharges. The State Water Board adopted the IGP including an outline of how Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) would be incorporated at a later date. In early 2016, the four Regional Water Boards published draft language to incorporate TMDL requirements into the IGP for public review and comment. The State Water Board reviewed the Regional Water Boards’ draft language and the public comments, and published a draft Statewide IGP Amendment (Amendment) in December 2017.
In addition to addressing TMDL-related permit requirements, the State Water Board identified two additional aspects of the IGP to be revised. The proposed Amendment includes revisions to address the following:
- Implement TMDLs included in Attachment E of the General Permit,
- Update the monitoring requirements for compliance with the federal Sufficiently Sensitive Methods (SSM) Rule, and
- Add statewide compliance options to incentivize stormwater capture and regional collaboration.
These are discussed in greater detail below:
Attachment E of the IGP provides a list of water bodies in California with established TMDLs that are applicable to industrial stormwater discharges. The proposed TMDL-related requirements are applicable to all industrial facilities covered by the IGP within the associated 303(d)-listed water body’s watershed. Each water body and TMDL pair was evaluated individually, and therefore the proposed requirements vary. However, the proposed TMDL-related requirements generally fall under one of the following categories:
- No action required, and no TMDL-related numeric action level (TNAL) or numeric effluent limitation (NEL) proposed.
- Continue to comply with the IGP with some action required. No TNAL or NEL proposed.
- Action required. TNAL and/or NEL proposed.
Proposed TNALs are functionally the same as Instantaneous Maximum NALs, though set to different values. An exceedance is not a violation of the IGP as long as the appropriate Exceedance Response Action is taken (IGP Section XII). A TMDL-related requirement functionally similar to Annual NALs is not proposed in the Amendment. Unlike TNALs, exceedance of an NEL is a violation of the IGP and, by extension, the Clean Water Act, subjecting permittees that exceed an NEL to potential agency fines and citizen lawsuits.
The significance of the potential impacts of the proposed Amendment’s TNAL and NEL provisions cannot be overstated. By way of example, industrial facilities draining directly to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor would be subject to new TNALs for Copper (3.73 µg/l), DDT (0.00059 µg/l), Lead (8.53 µg/l), PCBs (0.00017 µg/l), and Zinc (85.6 µg/l) if they are located within the applicable impaired water body that is listed in Attachment E. These levels are extremely low and it’s anticipated that few industrial facilities would be able to meet them even with expensive treatment.
New NELs are also proposed for certain impaired water bodies draining to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor for Copper (9.7 µg/l), Lead (42.7 µg/l), and Zinc (697 µg/l), and one exceedance of any of these NELs is a violation of the IGP.
SSM Rule Revisions
The EPA finalized their analytical testing requirements per 40 CFR Parts 122 and 136 for sufficiently sensitive methods (SSM) on 19 August 2014, which is after the effective date of the IGP. This Amendment formally incorporates these federal testing requirements.
Compliance Options Revisions
Two new compliance options were added to the IGP by the proposed Amendment:
- Onsite: capture and use or infiltration of the 85th percentile, 24-hr storm event.
- Offsite: participate in an approved watershed management plan with local jurisdictions. Compliance would be BMP-based as opposed to being based on NALs, TNALs, or NELs.
These compliance options are open to all permittees.
The proposed Amendment has been posted to the State Water Board’s Industrial Storm Water Program’s website. State Water Board staff have held several workshops to provide further explanation and to answer questions. KJ attended the 18 December 2017 workshop in Sacramento. The State Water Board accepted oral comments regarding the proposed Amendment at its 9 January 2018 public hearing in Sacramento. Written comments are due to the State Water Board clerk by 14 February 2018 at noon. Adoption of the Amendment is planned for later in 2018.
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