As discussed in prior issues of the Environmental Letter, the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) has issued several Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES) Draft General Permits for public notice in 2014. While some of the KPDES General Permits have a narrow scope of applicability to certain types of industrial activity, DOW also issued for public notice on Aug. 1, 2014, a Draft KPDES General Permit for stormwater runoff associated with construction activity, which will broadly apply to construction activity across the state. KPDES General Permits apply to a specific category of sources that generally involve the same or substantially similar types of operations; discharge the same types of wastewater; generally require the same effluent limitations or operating standards, impose the same type of monitoring; and are a more effective regulatory approach than developing individual permits. Thus, General Permits are particularly attractive where there are a large number of the same types of sources in the state and facility-specific effluent limitations are not necessary to address variability in operations.
The following KPDES General Permits were issued for public notice in 2014:
- KYG04 -- Renewal of the KPDES General Permit for coal mining operations in the Eastern and Western Kentucky coal fields;
- KYR10 -- Renewal of KPDES General Permit for stormwater runoff from construction sites greater than one acre;
- KYG05 -- Renewal of KPDES General Permit for reclamation activity at abandoned mine land sites;
- KYG84 -- Renewal of KPDES General Permit for non-coal (mineral) mining operations;
- KYG50 -- Renewal of KPDES General Permit for highway maintenance and equipment facilities;
- KYG40 -- Renewal of KPDES General Permit for on-site wastewater treatment systems serving individual family residences.
- KYG11 -- New KPDES General Permit for construction material manufacturing operations (concrete and asphalt plants); and
- KYG15 -- New KPDES General Permit for general aviation airports.
While most of these KPDES General Permits remain in draft and are under review by DOW or EPA, several were recently issued. The General Permits for coal mining operations were issued Sept. 2, 2014, and become effective Oct. 1, 2014. The General Permits for general aviation airports and on-site wastewater treatment systems for individual residences were also recently issued in final.
The General Permits for coal mining are very comprehensive and have been subject of intense scrutiny by stakeholders and EPA. As reported in the July 2014 issue of the Environmental Letter, separate General Permits were developed for the Eastern and Western Kentucky coal fields. In addition to establishing effluent limitations on discharges of total suspended solids, total recoverable iron, total recoverable manganese, and pH, certain types of discharges from coal mining operations are also subject to effluent limitations for acute whole effluent toxicity, and total recoverable selenium (fish tissue). Additionally, the General Permits impose require-ments on permittees with respect to instream biological monitoring and limitations, as well as instream chemical trend analyses to evaluate the potential impacts of the mining operation on the receiving water. The General Permits also include requirements relating to adaptive best management practices (BMPs) in which the effectiveness of BMPs must be evaluated and improved based upon performance triggers for instream biological and chemical testing results. Specific conductivity of effluent must also be monitored, but limitations based upon specific conductivity are not included in the Permits.
Another important consideration with respect to other permittees holding individual Permits is that the General Permit establishes a compliance schedule for existing facilities for compliance with the first-time water quality-based limitations on selenium, thus providing additional precedent for use of compliance schedules for first-time water quality-based limits. Those limitations must be achieved “as soon as possible, but not later than Jan. 1, 2016.”
Existing coal mining operations are provided 180-days after the effective date of the new General Permit to submit an electronic Notice of Intent (e-NOI) to obtain permit coverage. While the General Permit for coal mining operations applies only to one industry, other manufacturing and industrial facilities with complex effluent discharges may be interested in reviewing the types of terms and conditions that have been included in the General Permits to protect water quality as a result of prior EPA objections.
Any person that may engage in construction in Kentucky that results in a disturbance of greater than one acre would also be interested in KYR10 for stormwater runoff from construction sites. The Draft KPDES General Permit (KYR10) was made available for public comment on Aug. 1, 2014.
The Draft Permit is largely the same as the previous version of KYR10, which expired on July 31, 2014. However, the scope of applicability of KYR10 has been increased in the Draft Permit.
The General Permit would become available for construction sites that discharge to water bodies that support cold water aquatic habitat or endangered species, as well as to outstanding state resource waters.
For construction sites that discharge to such special use waters, the General Permit would impose a 50-foot buffer zone, as compared to the 25-foot buffer zone that applies to facilities that do not discharge to such special use waters. EPA recommendations for certain BMP maintenance are also referenced in the Draft Permit. Coverage under the General Permit must be applied for electronically through an e-NOI. The Draft General Permit continues to rely upon BMPs as opposed to numeric effluent limitations on total suspended solids to protect the receiving streams.
General Permits provide a quick and efficient avenue for obtaining KPDES Permit coverage for projects that qualify for General Permit coverage. For activities that do not qualify for permit coverage, individual KPDES Permits must be obtained.