SSO/Wastewater Enforcement: Arkansas Department of Energy & Environment – Division of Environmental Quality and Randolph County Wastewater Treatment Facility Sign Permit Order | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC – Advice Eating

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The Arkansas Department of Energy & Environment – Division of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) and Tri-City Utilities, Inc. (“Tri-City”) signed a Consent Administrative Order (“CAO”) on March 10, which concerned alleged violations of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit under the Clean Water Act. See LIS #22-025.

The CAO provides that Tri-City will operate a municipal wastewater treatment facility (“Facility”) in Randolph County, Arkansas.

The plant is stated to discharge treated wastewater into an unnamed tributary of the Beaver Dam Ditch, which eventually empties into the White River. Such discharge will be governed by an NPDES permit.

DEQ reportedly sent a letter to Tri-City on December 11, 2017 requesting a corrective action plan (“CAP”) to address 39 violations of the NPDES effluent restrictions from February 1, 2015 through October 31, 2017 parameters with reported violations are said to have included:

  • ammonia nitrogen
  • Carbonaceous Biochemical Oxygen Demand
  • dissolved oxygen
  • total suspended solids

The CAP was required to have a milestone timeline and compliance end date, and be certified by an Arkansas Professional Engineer.

Tri-City filed a CAP on January 11, 2018 with a final compliance date of July 31, 2018. This CAP is said to have indicated that pumping stations in the City of O’Kean, the City of Delaplaine and the City of O’Kean Peach Orchard would be replaced in November 2018.

Tri-City submitted progress reports from 2018 to 2021 detailing actions to achieve compliance. Nonetheless, the CAO provides that Tri-City continued to report violations beyond the final compliance date. Progress reports indicate that the three cities served by the facility have leaks in their collection systems.

DEQ conducted a review of the Certified Discharge Monitoring Reports (“DMRs”) submitted by Tri-City. This review reportedly revealed the following violations:

  • Thirty-Two (32) Ammonia Nitrogen Violations
  • Eight (8) dissolved oxygen violations
  • Four (4) total suspended solids violations
  • Two (2) fecal coliform violations
  • One (1) violation of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand

DEQ sent Tri-City a letter requesting a revised CAP to address the alleged violations. The revised CAP should have a milestone timeline and compliance end date and be certified by an Arkansas Professional Engineer and due November 29, 2021.

DEQ is said to have conducted a review of sewer overflows (“SSOs”) reported by Tri-City for the period December 1, 2018 to November 15, 2021. The review reportedly revealed that Tri-City reported 26 SSOs.

Tri-City submitted a revised CAP with a final compliance date of October 2022. Such a revised CAP was deemed appropriate and quarterly progress reports detailing corrective actions to achieve compliance were requested. The final compliance date for the revised CAP submitted by Tri-City on March 8, 2022 is December 31, 2024.

The CAO requires Tri-City to comply with the terms, milestone plan and final compliance date of December 31, 2024 contained in the approved revised CAP. As a result, the milestone plan and final completion date are fully enforceable as conditions of the CAO. Quarterly progress reports are also required. The CAO also requires that Tri-City develop and submit to DEQ for review and approval a wastewater system evaluation study (“Study”) for its sanitary wastewater collection system within 270 days of the Effective Date of the CAO. This study must be certified by an Arkansas Professional Engineer.

Required elements of the study are covered in the CAO. In addition, the study must include an SSO plan with a milestone plan detailing the steps Tri-City must take to fully and expeditiously implement the corrective actions. The necessary measures are included in the CAO and are fully enforceable.

A civil penalty of $8,600 will be assessed, conditionally suspended if Tri-City complies with the CAO.

A copy of the CAO can be downloaded here.

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