EPA to Initiate Rulemaking to Reduce SSOs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering two possible modifications to existing regulations related to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs): establishing standard National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) conditions for publicly owned treatment works' (POTWs) permits that address sanitary sewer collection systems and SSOs; and clarifying the regulatory framework for applying NPDES permit conditions to municipal satellite collection systems.

Municipal satellite collection systems are sanitary sewers owned or operated by a municipality that convey wastewater to a POTW operated by a different municipality. As a part of this effort, the agency is also considering whether to address long-standing questions about peak wet weather flows at municipal wastewater treatment plants to allow for a holistic, integrated approach to reducing SSOs while at the same time addressing peak flows at POTWs.

In many cities, SSOs and basement backups occur because of blockages, broken pipes and excessive water flowing into the pipes. SSOs present environmental and health problems because they discharge untreated wastewater that contains bacteria, viruses, suspended solids, toxics, trash and other pollutants into waterways. These overflows may also contribute to beach closures, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water supplies and other environmental and health concerns.

To help the agency make decisions on this proposed rulemaking, EPA will hold public listening sessions and the public can submit written comments. The agency will accept written comments on the potential rule until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register (draft at this link).

Brief oral statements should be held to three minutes or less. The dates and locations of the listening sessions are:

  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 24 at EPA Region 10 Office, 1200 Sixth Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 28 at EPA Region 4 Office, 61 Forsyth St., SW Atlanta, GA 30303
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 30 at EPA Region 7 Office, 901 N. 5th St., Kansas City, KS 66101
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 13 at EPA Headquarters Office, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004.

In addition to the listening sessions held throughout the country, EPA has an archive of a virtual" listening session via a Webcast on its Website.

The information gathered at these sessions, will be available on the Internet at www.epa.gov/npdes/sanitaryseweroverflows.

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