SSO/Wastewater Enforcement: Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment – Department of Environmental Quality and City of Shannon Hills Sign Administrative 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 Shannon Hills, Arkansas (“Shannon Hills”) signed a Consent Administrative Order (“CAO”) on March 1 addressing alleged violations of the Clean Water Act is concerned. See LIS #22-018.

The CAO provides that Shannon Hills operates a municipal wastewater treatment facility (“Site”) in Saline County, Arkansas.

The plant is designed to discharge treated wastewater via a 10-inch mainline to Otter Creek, which eventually flows into the Arkansas River. Such discharge is regulated under a Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit.

DEQ sent Shannon Hills a letter on January 9, 2020 requesting a corrective action plan (“CAP”) to address effluent violations. The CAP was required to have a milestone timeline and compliance end date, and be certified by an Arkansas Professional Engineer.

The CAP was submitted to DEQ on February 12, 2020, with a final compliance date of November 25, 2020. DEQ conditionally approved the CAP and requested a new milestone plan.

DEQ reportedly conducted an inspection of a lift station on August 18, 2021 for a sewer overflow. The following violations were allegedly found during the inspection:

  • There was a build up of solids at the top of the wet well.
  • The flood warning light at the lift station has been taken out of service.
  • Lift station showed signs of overflow.

DEQ emailed Shannon Hills informing them that DEQ had observed evidence of sanitary sewer overflows (“SSOs”) at a lift station and requested a CAP. In addition, Shannon Hills has been instructed to report SSOs to DEQ immediately. Shannon Hills reportedly reported to DEQ that the SSO had been reported and that it was working to replace mill pumps in the area where it occurred.

DEQ conducted a review of Certified Discharge Monitoring Reports (“DMRs”) on October 13, 2021. The following violations were allegedly identified:

a. Twenty-seven (27) Ammonia Nitrogen violations;

b. Seven (7) total suspended solids violations; and

c. Two (2) fecal coliform violations.

The review also reportedly found that Shannon Hills failed to file certain non-compliance reports (“NCRs”) for the alleged violations. In addition, the facility reportedly reported a design flow greater than the allowable flow of 0.641 million gallons per day during the following monitoring periods:

a. 2018: August, September, October, November and December;

b. 2019: January, March, April, May, June, July, October, November and December;

c. 2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, September, November and December; and

i.e. 2021: January, March, April, May, June and July.

A review of Shannon Hills’ reported SSOs was conducted by DEQ for the period August 1, 2018 to October 13, 2021. The review reportedly found that Shannon Hills reported six SSOs totaling approximately 3,135 gallons.

DEQ and Shannon Hills met on November 10, 2021 to discuss:

  • SSOs
  • Sewage violations
  • improvements to the facility
  • Application for extension due to DEQ until February 1, 2022

Shannon Hills provided an update on the results discussed at the meeting. However, the update did not include the requested GAP with a milestone plan.

The CAO requires that within 30 calendar days of its effective date, Shannon Hills submit to DEQ for review and approval a comprehensive CAP, developed by an Arkansas Professional Engineer, that must include methods and best available technologies to be used to correct the violations identified in the Findings of fact are listed that address violations of the treatment system design flow and prevent future violations. A milestone plan must be included with a final completion date no later than December 31, 2023. After approval by DEQ, the components are thus included in the CAO. Quarterly progress reports are required.

The CAO also requires that Shannon Hills submit to the DEQ the NCRs referenced in paragraph 19 of the Findings of the Facts and submit an NCR for each monitoring period in which a violation of allowable discharge limits is reported.

Within 12 months of the Effective Date, Shannon Hills must develop a Sewer System Evaluation Study (“SSES”) for its sanitary sewage collection system and submit to DEQ for review and approval. The SSES must be certified by an Arkansas Professional Engineer and contain a number of items listed in Paragraph 4 of the Order and Agreement section of the CAO.

The SSES must include an SSO plan with a milestone timeline outlining the steps Shannon Hills is expected to take to fully and expeditiously implement the corrective actions. Once approved, the SSO plan and milestone plan are included in the CAO and are therefore enforceable.

There will be a civil penalty of $5,200, which could have been reduced to $2,600 if the document had been signed and returned to DEQ within 20 calendar days of receipt.

A copy of the CAO can be downloaded here.

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