Description: The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act emphasized stricter control of toxics in wastewater discharges. Although state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permit writers have had the authority to incorporate strict water quality-based controls in permits, they did not widely use this authority in the past. However, general permits proposed in the past year by Region VI for discharges into the territorial seas of Louisiana and by Region X for coastal and offshore discharges in Alaska are much stricter than their predecessors. The Region VI permit requires numerical produced water limits on arsenic, lead, benzene, total phenols, radium, and whole effluent toxicity. The Region X permit requires numerical produced water limits on copper, arsenic, zinc, total aromatic hydrocarbons, total aqueous hydrocarbons, and whole effluent toxicity. The additional requirements increase the cost of complying with the permit, present more opportunities for exceeding one of the permit limits, and serve as a precedent for future permits. The industry should be prepared to accept the additional costs of these requirements or develop data to convince the regulatory agencies that the increased level of monitoring and permit limits is not necessary to protect water quality. Regulatory agencies should be receptive to new data provided by the industry and flexible in setting additional toxics controls.
Date: October 1, 1996
Creator: Veil, J.A.
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