Jump to main content.

State Innovation Grants

EPA 2005-2006 State Innovation Grants Competition Pre-Proposals

2005 EPA Innovation Grant Pre-Proposal CFDA # 66.940  

Project Summary Information Page

Title: BWP Industrial Wastewater Sewer Discharger Program Redesign

Applicant: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Steven A. DeGabriele
Bureau of Waste Prevention (BWP)
8 th Flr. One Winter St.
Boston MA. 02108
617 556-1120 FAX 556-1063

CommissionerSupport: Senior DEP management supports this pre-proposal.

Problem Statement: There are three aspects to the problem: First, while the discharge of industrial wastewater (IW) from individual sewer dischargers is well regulated and controlled by a few municipal sewer systems in Massachusetts, it is undocumented and may not be well regulated by a large number of systems. Second, there is a Massachusetts regulation that requires each individual sewer discharger to obtain a discharge permit from DEP. This requirement presents a problem because DEP does not have sufficient resources to implement the program and has exercised permit enforcement forbearance since 1998. Finally, the individual sewer dischargers are burdened by two permitting programs, one from the local sewer authority, and one from the State that is not enforced.

Summary of the Project: First, DEP would provide “interim delegation” of the state industrial sewer discharge program to between five and ten pilot treatment plants (POTWs) through development of either an EMS or an ERP-type certification, depending upon the needs of the individual treatment plant. The EMS and ERP certifications will document and measure individual sewer dischargers to each of the pilot facilities. Second, i ndustrial wastewater dischargers to sewers will no longer be required to routinely obtain a state-issued industrial discharge permit. Instead, DEP would replace the industrial sewer discharge permit component of the IW program with a component for “interim delegation” to municipal sewer systems. Individual industrial dischargers connected to a municipal sewer system with “interim delegation” would be considered adequately regulated. Finally, DEP would explore new incentives for POTWs to improve their industrial discharger control programs. It is important to note that much of this grant request would be used to work through the issues of POTWs who feel themselves stretched thin as it is. This concern would be addressed in the design of the program.

Regulatory Flexibility - Some industrial users may request the exemption from the hazardous waste treatment licensing requirement under RCRA and corresponding State regulations. Therefore, the “interim delegation” program may require EPA approval to allow IW pre-treatment programs (IPP) to substitute EMS development and ERP-type self-certification for current permitting programs, and still provide the exemption for hazardous waste treatment licensing. DEP’s authority to issue individual permits may also be retained when necessary to respond to a specific problem, or, to allow the hazardous waste licensing exemption. The 47 POTWs with EPA approved Industrial Pretreatment programs will still be required to maintain their industrial discharge permitting programs, regardless of how DEP approaches controlling industrial users. Some level of reporting/certification will be required of the 80 Non IPP POTWs designed to assure that Categorical Industrial Users (CIUs) discharging to these POTWs have some level of DEP oversight. Currently EPA identifies 13 CIUs in Massachusetts.

Project Narrative:

This project will demonstrate broad, strategic innovation by developing ERP-type self-certifications or EMS templates with five to ten POTWs, and thereby replace state permits for individual sewer dischargers with a delegation process for POTWs. It links directly to EPA’s strategic goal of preventing pollution through POTW self-audits and disclosures. If successful with the pilot POTWs, this type of cooperative delegation would be used across the entire POTW sector for the industrial wastewater regulatory program. The overall impact of the project, will be to provide a delegation model for replacing state industrial wastewater permits. If successful, all treatment plants would be placed on a schedule for delegation, increasing the environmental accountability for actual discharges, while eliminating redundant permitting. This model could be adapted to other states or other sectors. Some treatment plants may receive full delegation based upon the implementation of an environmental management system. Other treatment plants may not be as well developed and may receive “interim delegation” based upon their level of certification to compliance of the industrial discharge program.

The first activity in this project will be to identify particular target treatment plants for participation in the program. This will be based in part upon treatment plant needs and environmental threats. For example, during the project, DEP will identify which POTWs are at risk of having environmentally harmful industrial toxic discharges, by organizing and analyzing available data. The extent of the threat will be evaluated and addressed through the NPDES permit renewal process as necessary. An agency-wide protocol for reacting to plant upsets or contamination problems will be developed and will be implemented on an on-going, as needed basis. Taking into account a priority for water supply protection, DEP will select up to ten POTWs for development of a delegation package that includes elements of EMS and ERP self-certification principals, depending upon the needs of the treatment facility. This links directly to EPA’s national goal of clean, safe water.

Delegation as Alternative to Permitting
During this project, DEP will delegate regulatory authority to the pilot treatment plants for permitting, documenting and controlling individual industrial dischargers. This means individual sewer dischargers will no longer need to get a permit from the state. This delegation could be accomplished with minimal resources, under this grant proposal, by facilitating training for POTWs in ERP and EMS principles. At the end of the grant, these POTWs and DEP would train others on how to develop IW delegation.Beyond the pilot treatment plants, one way to end the statewide requirement that each individual industrial discharger must obtain a permit would be to amend our existing regulations to allow DEP to grant unilateral “interim delegation” of state industrial user sewer permitting to all POTWs. DEP believes that this alternative to permitting will provide measurably better results with fewer resources than a conventional state permit program. This is because in a low level-of-effort delegation program, DEP could establish performance goals and timetables for POTW industrial discharge control programs, POTWs would measure and document industrial discharges and evaluate ways to improve the performance of industrial dischargers as a whole group. DEP could also offer incentives (such as higher ranking on priority lists for grants and loans) for more rapid progress toward full delegation. This new approach would not change the “full delegation” under existing regulations for POTWs such as the MWRA that required an application for delegation, adherence to very high performance standards and approval by DEP.

Under the “interim delegation” approach, the universal delegation of DEP’s industrial sewer permitting program to the POTWs would substitute for DEP’s issuance of individual permits for each industrial sewer discharger. The DEP permit program would remain in the regulations, but would only be used when needed. This model is similar to the community wastewater management plan approach that replaced sewer extension permits and to the Massachusetts TURA program that merely requires companies to report and plan, but does not set timetables or requirements for pollution prevention. The delegation program could also include public disclosure of information about industrial dischargers, similar to toxic use disclosure required in the Massachusetts TURA program.

Local Involvement
While DEP would need to change the regulations to allow permit delegation authority, this change might be less contentious and time consuming than amending the regulations to eliminate routine state permits to individual sewer dischargers. We also believe this approach could provide better environmental protection because it creates some new incentives for POTWs to improve their industrial discharger control programs. It is important to note, however, that there could be an outcry from the POTWs who feel themselves stretched too thin as it is. During regulatory development and revisions, DEP will conduct public meetings with POTWs and industrial users, as well as the required public hearings, to determine the best methods and timing of the proposed changes. Because urban POTWs with many industrial users, such as Lowell, will be the most effected by this program, a large proportion of the State’s identified environmental justice community will be affected by this proposal.

Using EMS or ERP certification to delegate regulatory authority to local entities, the POTWs, is an innovative and significantly different approach to delegation than traditional regulatory programs for wastewater. The self-evaluation and accountability by the POTWs builds upon the principles that DEP has used successfully in its seven ERP sectors and in its implementation of EMSs under selected administrative consent orders.

Water Quality Protection
Drinking water protection will be the priority focus for the industrial discharger control program. Massachusetts has 13 POTWs discharging to surface waters which directly impact public water supplies, largely in the northeastern portion of the state. Under this grant, staff will work with POTWs to prevent threats to drinking water from industrial dischargers and DEP will pay particular attention to drinking water contaminants during the NPDES permitting renewal process, and during the development of EMS templates and self-certifications.

In addition to replacing individual state permits with a program of delegation to POTWs with EMS and self-certifications, DEP’s authority to set statewide discharge limits to respond to particular issues (such as perchlorate or the needs of the biotech industry) will be retained. The existing industrial discharge standards will also be clarified to prohibit the discharge of hazardous waste to sewers.

Measuring Success, Baseline Conditions:
Currently, only one wastewater treatment plant has received delegation by DEP to run the industrial permitting program, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority ( MWRA), by far the largest POTW in the state. The Lowell POTW has an EMS in place but has not received delegation. All other treatment plants are in various stages of development and sophistication regarding industrial pretreatment programs. Under this grant, DEP would pilot the approach at five to ten facilities. DEP will develop baseline data using MWRA, Lowell and other POTW data to determine known quantities and types of industrial wastewater.

The potential for industrial wastewater to have an adverse environmental impact is based on many aspects of POTW performance, some that are not normally directly related to industrial wastewater pretreatment.

The five general areas of measurement include:

  1. POTW compliance with applicable permits (covering such issues as water discharge, residuals management, hazardous waste management, air emissions, and odors)
  2. Sewer system performance (includes exceeding design flow, overflows, and infiltration and inflow)
  3. Industrial Pretreatment Program performance
  4. POTW operation and maintenance, including fiscal soundness, staffing, safety records, standard operating procedures, laboratory adequacy and access, and sewer map accuracy
  5. Authority, in regional POTWs, for the POTW to enact effective policies across municipal lines.

Together, these criteria provide a basis to effectively assess POTW performance, including the potential environmental impacts individual industrial dischargers have on the POTW’s performance. Core indicators include compliance with applicable permits, sludge management method, and receiving water body characteristics. Others are effective indicators but not mandatory for a well-performing POTW, such as sewer system performance measures. While POTW upset and interference are usually too infrequent to be used as indicators, DEP will develop a combination of the above factors to indicate performance.

Outputs and outcomes:
Primary, short-term outputs are the number and size of the pilot POTWs establishing delegation during this grant using ERP and EMS standards. The goal is interim or final delegation of the individual industrial discharge program to all (5-10) pilot facilities. DEP will then identify how many additional POTWs have been placed on a schedule for full delegation, how many have developed an EMS and how many have completed milestones in a jointly developed ERP certification checklist. This will be measured in the middle and at the end of the two-year program by the actual number of wastewater treatment plants and the total number of gallons of industrial wastewater under the delegated control programs. Administrative outputs and efficiencies include the number of individual industrial dischargers no longer needing a DEP IW permit, effectively ending the need for the enforcement forbearance currently in place.

DEP will also use the ERP and EMS documentation developed by the pilot POTWs to measure a set of outcomes developed in each individual treatment plant’s plan. Depending on the local circumstances, examples could include predetermined toxic concentrations from industrial users, reductions in concentrations, operational improvements or changes, and reductions in the number of plant upsets. Other outcomes and internal measurements could also be developed within each POTW delegation/certification package, as well as commitments for specific measures of success within the community of industrial dischargers. Longer-term measures will include things such as the type and amount of toxic discharges reduced, the number of gallons of industrial wastewater discharge eliminated, the number of personnel trained and the amount of energy savings from treatment plant operations. DEP will share its data on industrial discharges and management improvements with all POTWs and encourage them to exchange data with each other via their professional association.

Transfer of Innovations
DEP plans to share the results of these innovations in industrial wastewater with other Northeastern States by conducting several workshops open to all POTW and regulatory agency representatives, including the New England Pretreatment Forum that meets annually. In this way, POTWs that have gone through the EMS and ERP certification process can share both challenges and benefits of the program, especially cost savings they have documented by participating in the program. It is the goal of this program to create a culture of problem solving for industrial wastewater issues within the community of POTWs.

Project Milestones:
All milestones are based upon a starting date in the summer of 2005. If the grant award is made later, the milestones will be adjusted accordingly.

July 2005 – Grant Award

August 2005 - Meet with POTWs and other municipal officials to introduce project.

November 2005 – Identify key water supply protection issues, related to industrial users. Use toxics information to select POTWs for participation in IW delegation, ERP certification and EMS project.

December 2005 – Select Consultant(s) for development of ERP and EMS delegation templates

March 2006 – Complete POTW status report, ERP certification progress and EMS templates and selected POTWS and help prepare delegation packages. Complete changes to IW regulations.

July 2006 – Complete delegation process for POTWs selected.

October 2006 – Complete information package for next wave of POTW delegation..

January 2007 – Complete training and preparation of next tier of selected POTWs

March 2007 – Publish and distribute generic ERP IW certifications and EMS templates

June 2007 – Complete training of other POTWs for delegation.

July 2007 – Hold New England Workshop on IW ERP, EMS and delegation programs for IW

Project Budget

[Budgetary information removed by EPA]

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.