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EPA announced in the June 1 Federal Register that it plans to hold several listening sessions' beginning in June to obtain information from the public on certain issues EPA is considering whether to propose to modify the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations as they apply to municipal sanitary sewer collection systems and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) in order to better protect the environment and public health from the harmful effects of sanitary sewer overflows and basement back ups. The Agency is considering whether to propose possible modifications to the NPDES regulations, including establishing standard permit conditions for publicly owned treatment works (POTW) permits that specifically address sanitary sewer collection systems and SSOs, and clarifying the regulatory framework for applying NPDES permit conditions to municipal satellite collection systems. The Agency is also considering whether and how it should resolve several longstanding issues that are the subject of the December 22, 2005 draft Peak Flows Policy. This draft Policy attempted to clarify EPA's interpretation that the existing “bypass”' provision of the NPDES regulations applies to peak wet weather diversions at POTW treatment plants that are recombined with the flows from the secondary treatment units prior to discharge. The Agency is considering whether to adopt this or a revised Policy and/or address questions about peak flow as part of an SSO rulemaking to allow for a holistic and integrated approach to reducing SSOs while at the same time addressing peak flows at the POTW treatment plant. EPA is also asking for statements and input from the interested public on or before August 2, 2010.

EPA is seeking input on the following questions:

  • Should EPA clarify its standard permit conditions for SSO reporting, recordkeeping, and public notification?
  • Should EPA develop a standard permit condition with requirements for capacity, management, and operations & maintenance programs based on asset management principles?
  • Should EPA require permit coverage for municipal satellite collection systems?
  • What is the appropriate role of NPDES permits in addressing unauthorized SSOs that are caused by exceptional circumstances?
  • How should EPA address Peak Flows at POTW treatment plants?
  • What are the costs and benefits of capacity, management, and operations & maintenance programs and asset management of sanitary sewers?

WEF will be submitting comments in response to this notice.  In addition, WEF encourages its members and Member Associations to submit their own comments or participate in the listening sessions. Background Information. The public listening sessions will include a brief background on SSOs and peak flows that will be followed by an opportunity for the public to provide input on possible paths forward. Written and oral statements will be accepted at the public listening sessions. Input generated from what was learned at a public listening session will be compiled and archived. The dates and locations of the listening sessions are as follows:

·         June 24, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 10 Office, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101.

·         June 28, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 4 Office, 61 Forsyth Street, SW., Atlanta, GA 30303.

·         June 30, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 7 Office, 901 N. 5th Street, Kansas City, KS 66101.

·         July 13, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA HQ Office, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20004.