Implications of TMDLs and What You Should Be Doing Now
By your Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors at Alta Environmental
David Renfrew, QISP/ToR, QSD/P, CPSWQ, PMP
California’s rainy season is upon us and there is a dark cloud on the horizon. Unfortunately, it is not in the realm of rain at this point. The dark cloud being referred to here is the pending Industrial General Permit Amendment that will likely be adopted on November 6, 2018.
California’s Statewide General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities, Order 2014-0057-DWQ (Industrial General Permit or IGP) implements the federally required storm water regulations in California for storm water associated with industrial activities discharging to waters of the United States. During the last IGP revision in 2014, TMDLs were included but not formally amended at that time. Now, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is formally adopting the following changes:
Implications of TMDLs
For this article, we are focusing on Item #1. Item #1 is the big concern for any facility located in, and draining to, a TMDL water body. So, just what is a TMDL? A Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) can be thought of as a maximum amount of a pollutant (or load) that a water body (e.g., creek, river, bay, harbor, ocean) can handle without becoming impaired. A TMDL is then assigned by the SWRCB and a TMDL limit is then applied to those parties discharging to the water body. The issue is that most of California’s water bodies are impaired for one pollutant or another. The big issue for industrial facilities are the TMDLs that identify industrial sources will now be implemented and enforced in the IGP. For the IGP amendment, there are 36 TMDLs being assigned in the following Regional Board Areas:
In the case of the IGP, those TMDLs are assigned as TMDL Numeric Action Levels (TNALs) or Numeric Effluent Limits (NELs) which are now going to apply to dischargers in those water bodies if they have those pollutants. In most cases, the TNALs and NELs are lower than the IGPs current NALs. TNALs will be handled like the NALs in terms of the required actions. However, NELs are Permit effluent limits. According to State and Federal Regulations, exceedances of NELs come with mandatory minimum penalties of $3,000 per discharge location and per day and per discharge event and discretionary penalties of up to $10,000 per day per violation. These can add up to serious numbers. These are not assigned solely based on the two to four sample events you monitor. The results of those monitoring event data are then applied to all storm events that occurred that year. So, think about a facility with three discharge locations and all exceeding the TMDL NEL for copper and 10 storm events occurred that year. Multiplying out the locations by the number of discharge events, we could end up with a monetary penalty of $190,000 for just that year. Is this something your facility is prepared for?
What You Should be Doing Now
Alta’s TMDL experts and Qualified Industrial Stormwater Practitioners (QISPs) can conduct a review of your facilities IGP status and risks for the TMDLs. We can provide your business with proactive solutions and BMP recommendations to mitigate the escalating cost of compliance and to prevent future NAL/TNAL/NEL exceedances. To learn if your facility is subject to TMDLs, or if you have elevated ERA status or just compliance concerns in general, or for assistance keeping your business in compliance, give us a call at 562-495-5777 or email our Water Resources experts.
David Renfrew, QISP/ToR, QSD, CPSWQ, can be reached via email at David.Renfrew@altaenviron.com.
Jacqueline McMillen, P.E., QISP, QSD, can be reached via email at Jacqueline.McMillen@altaenviron.com.