[US] Proposed Rule Update for Effluent Analysis Methods under the Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing amendments to the pollutant analysis methods that are used by industries to analyze the chemical, physical, and biological components of wastewater.  EPA also proposes to approve certain methods under the alternate test procedures (ATP) program and clarify the procedures for EPA approval of nationwide and limited use alternate test procedures. EPA is accepting comments until April 20, 2015.

Facilities that must conduct monitoring to comply with NPDES to be affected

This action affects facilities that must conduct monitoring to comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.  In general, the changes in this proposed action include new and revised EPA methods of analyzing effluent, as well as new and revised methods adopted by Voluntary Consensus Standards Bodies, such as ASTM International or the Standard Methods Committee.

The proposed rule change also identifies methods EPA has reviewed under EPA’s national alternate test procedures program and has preliminarily concluded are appropriate for nationwide use.

EPA seeking to improve data quality and udpate CWA methods to keep with technology advances

 

In order to address laboratory contamination and to better account for intra-laboratory variability, the proposed rulemaking amends the procedure for determining method detection limits.  This rule would also clarify the process for requesting modifications to holding times, preservatives, and sampling container types.

By promulgating these proposed rules, the EPA seeks to provide increased flexibility to the regulated community, improve data quality, and update CWA methods to keep current with technology advances.

Clean Water Act regulatory Background

 

Section 301(a) of the CWA prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into navigable waters unless the discharge complies with a NPDES permit issued under section 402 of the CWA.  The NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources, such as pipes or man-made ditches, which discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.

Any facility that discharges directly to surface waters must obtain a NPDES permit, which requires that such entities monitor their effluent streams by certain approved methods.  Since more than one EPA-approved method is available, entities have a choice in deciding which approved method they will use to measure a pollutant. These test procedures for CWA programs, including analysis and sampling requirements, are codified in 40 CFR Part 136.  The EPA is proposing these amendments to 40 CFR Part 136 because the CWA authorizes it to promulgate and revise these guidelines as necessary to establish test procedures for the analysis of pollutants.

Red-on-line EHS Legal Expert

Sources:

Proposed Rule: Clean Water Act Methods Update Rule for the Analysis of Effluent, 80 FR 8955 (February 19, 2015) (amending 40 CFR Part 136).

40 CFR Part 136.

Clean Water Act Methods Update Rule for the Analysis of Effluent, 80 FR 8955