November 17, 2004

 

COMMENTS REGARDING NATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM (NPDES) PERMITS TO DISCHARGE TO OHIO WATERS, COLUMBUS WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS

Jackson Pike Wastewater Treat. Plant, Permit 4PF00000*KD, Application OH0024732

Southerly Wastewater Treat. Plant, Permit 4PF00001*LD, Application OH0024741

 

General Comments

 

Require Detailed Monthly Reporting of All Raw Sewage Discharges.

            Raw sewage is discharged by the permittee through treatment plant bypasses, CSOs, and SSOs, as well as basement backups.  Any discharge of raw untreated sewage into waterways should be reported, with time and duration of occurrence, flow rates, and total volume released. 

Bypasses are currently reported, volumes are not.  SSOs are reported, volumes are not.  CSO data is difficult to get.  The proposed NPDES permits will require reporting of CSO occurrence and volume – this is a welcome step. 

Water quality goals can be helped directly by requiring full centralized reporting of raw sewage discharges, with total volumes released.

 

Clarify When Overflows are Permitted.

            Overflows are authorized only “during wet weather periods when the flow in the sewer system exceeds the capacity of the sewer system.”  See Jackson Pike permit pages 10-40; Southerly Permit p. 22.  Although the permits clarify in detail when bypasses may occur, they do not give guidance on overflows.  See Part III, Item 11 in both permits. 

The permits should clarify when overflows are permitted.  There must be wet weather conditions and those should be defined.  Further, the flow must exceed sewer system capacity.  Those conditions should be detailed.  Overflows during dry weather are presumably not permitted.  See 1994 CSO Control Policy for dry weather flow (18689).

 

Add Toxicity Limits to Final Effluent Limitations.

            The Jackson Pike permit should include daily maxima and annual averages in the final effluent limits.  Southerly should also have toxicity limits in the final outfall table, Section I,A, and dates in the Schedule of Compliance, Part I,C, for meeting limits.

 

Add E. coli Effluent Limits.

Both Jackson Pike and Southerly already have fecal coliform limits and monitoring requirements that reflect the statewide criteria for primary contact recreational use designation.  The limits will be continued in the new permit.

            We request that E. coli limits be added as well, according to the criteria in the Ohio Administrative Code 3745-1-07:  126 per 100 ml for the geometric mean and 298 per 100 ml for not more than 10% of samples.

 

Put Back Effluent Limits for Cyanide, Lead and Mercury.

            The expired NPDES permits had effluent limits for lead and mercury (and cyanide at Jackson Pike); the 2004 proposed permits do not.  They should be kept to protect receiving waters from future threats. 

            The 1993 NPDES Permit Fact Sheet for Jackson Pike notes (p. 7) that limits on cyanide, lead and mercury should be based on wasteload allocations, aquatic life, human health, and anti-backsliding requirements of the Clean Water Act and 40 CFR 122.44(1).  The same rationale supports retaining those effluent limits in the 2004 permits.

 

Explicitly Incorporate Requirements from Governing Consent Orders.

            We request explicit incorporation of consent decree deadlines into the NPDES permits.  See Combined Sewers Overflow (CSO) Consent Order, State of Ohio and City of Columbus, Franklin County Ohio Court of Common Pleas; Draft May 18, 2004 Case Number 04CVH-05-5336; Final September 17, 2004.  See also Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Consent Order, State of Ohio and City of Columbus filed in Franklin County Ohio Court of Common Pleas; Final August 1, 2002.

Relevant requirements of the CSO Consent Order include reporting dates, public involvement, notification of overflows, reduction in Whittier Street combined overflows, and implementation of Long Term Control Plan.  Relevant requirements of the SSO 2002 Consent Order include:  reports of major SSOs, monthly reports of all SSOs, annual report of SSOs and Water in Basement, public notification of SSOs, and 2005 report date.

Incorporation of the governing consent orders is important because the proposed NPDES permits do not address SSOs at all, and do not include public participation requirements of the CSO consent order.  The US Environmental Protection Agency calls for the public to be involved in the decision-making process to control overflow discharges.  See USEPA Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Policy, Notice; Federal Register v. 59 no. 75 18692, 18694 (Apr 19, 1994).  Explicit incorporation of the governing consent orders will strengthen deadlines and requirements. 

 

Protect Monitoring Frequencies; Require Bioassessment.

            Many monitoring requirements are loosened in the proposed 2004 permit.  We support maintenance of existing testing frequency for parameters such as total nitrogen, nitrite + nitrate, nickel, zinc, cadmium, lead, copper, mercury, etc.  We applaud the few instances where testing frequencies are increased:  cyanide, toxicity at Jackson Pike, e.g.

            Although controlling water quality standards may be based on bioassessment, the central Scioto has not been updated since 1996.  It makes sense to require the permittee to evaluate biota of receiving waters:  assess biotic integrity, fish well-being, and invertebrate communities near significant discharge points.

 

Specific Comments

Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant, Permit 4PF00000*KD

            I, A:  Interim Effluent Limitations, 001, page 2-3

                        Toxicity limitations should be in these interim requirements, which extend almost as long as the permit.  Final toxicity goals are desirable earlier than 50 months.

            I, A:  Final Effluent Limitations and Monitoring Requirements, 001, pages 4-5

                        -Compliance schedule information in Part I,C-C (Municipal WET Limits) does not fit with the Final Effluent Limitations of Part I,A (p. 4-5).  Specifically, the text on Municipal WET Limits in Part I,C  presents an annual average limit of 1.0 Chronic Toxicity Units and daily maximum of  1.8 Chronic Toxicity Units.  The Table of Final Outfall Effluent Limitations only contains the daily maximum and does not include the annual average.  Both should be included in table I,A. 

                        -Return effluent limits for cyanide, lead and mercury from 1993 permit.

                        -Add limits for E. coli (see above discussion under General Comments).

                        -Protect and expand monitoring frequencies (see discussion above).

I, B:  Bypass Monitoring, 002, page 8

                        Add requirement to report volume discharged from raw sewage bypass.

                        We suggest adding monitoring of bacteria.

I, B:  Bypass Monitoring, 003, page 9

                        Add requirement to report volume discharged from raw sewage bypass.

                        We suggest adding monitoring of bacteria.

            I, B-3  CSO Monitoring, 004-049

                        It is good that volumes are reported, along with other parameters.

                        Why have nine overflows been removed from the 1993 list?

I, B:  Sludge Monitoring, Land Application, 581, page 41

                        We suggest returning monitoring of PCBs.

I, B:  Sludge Monitoring, Incineration, 585, page 43

                        Add back monitoring Sludge Solids, % total and % volatile as in 1993.

            I, B:  Influent Monitoring, 601, page 45

                        Add back monitoring of water temperature and total Kjehldahl nitrogen.

            I, B:  Upstream Monitoring, 801, page 47

                        Add back monitoring of CBOD5

            I,C-A:  CSO Long-Term Control Plan Schedule, page 50

                        This section should be used to incorporate deadline requirements from the CSO Consent Order (see above).  The existing dates in the draft text are long past.  The consent order is mentioned in the permit fact sheet on p. 8 – it should be in the permit.

The Public Participation section should be upgraded to specifically detail meaningful public participation requirements.  See comments for Southerly.

            I,C-C:  Municipal WET Limits, page 51-52

                        This toxicity compliance information should be incorporated into the effluent limits table of I,A with final limits of 1.0 annual average and 1.8 daily maximum.  We would prefer compliance earlier than 50 months.

            III, 11:  Unauthorized Discharges, p. 37

                        Add a section clarifying when overflows are authorized, supported by definitions in Item 1. 

 

Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, Permit 4PF00001*LD

            I,A:  Final Effluent Limitations and Monitoring, Final Outfall 001, pages 2-3

                        Add limits for toxicity.

                        Return effluent limits for lead and mercury from 1993 permit.

                        Add limits for E. coli (see discussion above under General Comments).

                        Protect and expand monitoring frequencies (see discussion above).

            I, B:  Downstream Monitoring, 901, page 6

                        Return monitoring of Chlorine (total residual) and CBOD5, as in 1993.

            I, B:  Bypass Monitoring, 002, page 8

                        Add requirement to report volume discharged from raw sewage bypass.

                        We suggest adding monitoring of bacteria.

            I, B:  CSO Monitoring, Alum Creek, 006, page 9

                        It is good that Overflow Volume was added to monitoring requirements

                        We suggest adding monitoring of bacteria.

            I, B:  Sludge Monitoring, Land Application, 581, page 10

                        We suggest returning monitoring of PCBs.

            I, B:  Sludge Monitoring, Incineration, 585, page 14

                        Add back monitoring Sludge Solids, % total and % volatile as in 1993.

            I, B:  Influent Monitoring, 601, page16

                        Add back monitoring of water temperature and total Kjehldahl nitrogen.

            I, B:  Upstream Monitoring, 801, page 18

                        Add back monitoring of CBOD5

            I, C:  Schedule of Compliance, page 19

                        Add toxicity limits and a schedule for compliance.

            I,C-B:  CSO Long-Term Control Plan Schedule, page 20

                        This section should be used to incorporate deadline requirements from the CSO Consent Order (see above).  The existing dates in the draft text are long past.  The consent order is mentioned in the permit fact sheet on p. 8 – it should be in the permit.

The Public Participation section should be upgraded to specifically detail meaningful public participation requirements.  The present text has almost nothing to do with public participation.  Specifically, we suggest deleting the paragraph “Overflows to priority waters shall be eliminated whenever physically and economically achievable….

            We suggest listing requirements for public participation which must be met: 

--making all technical and policy documents available to the public, preferably by posting on the utility website, as well as hard copies available;

--clear posting of overflow and bypass discharges with dates, locations and volumes;

--public meetings on planning options with opportunity for public input;

--serious consideration and response to outside input.

            III, 11:  Unauthorized Discharges, p. 75

                        Add a section clarifying when overflows are authorized, supported by definitions in Item 1.

 

Cyane Gresham, for the Environmental Oversight Committee

Central Ohio Sierra Club; 36 West Gay Street, Ste, 314; Columbus, OH  43215