The Bay States and the EPA have entered a new phase of cooperation in cracking down on polluters who violate their wastewater discharge permits.
A new long-term enforcement strategy signed by officials from the EPA and the states sets a goal of eliminating chronic discharge violations by July 1, and to eventually eliminate all "significant noncompliance" by dischargers.
The new goals are a followup to a 1990 Bay watershed goal set by EPA Administrator William K. Reilly to halve the number of municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities in significant noncompliance during the year and to bring all federal facilities into compliance with their environmental permits.
Of 330 major municipal and industrial dischargers in the watershed (those that release more than 1 million gallons a day) 27 were in significant noncompliance at the beginning of 1990. At the end of the year, 14 were in significant noncompliance. That figure has since been reduced to 10. That amounts to 3 percent of major dischargers in the Bay watershed being in violation with their permits — the national average for SNC is about 13 percent.
Of 50 federal facilities, 37 failed to comply with their permits at the beginning of 1990. That was reduced to four by the end of the year. The EPA has set a 100 percent compliance goal for federal facilities in the watershed for this year.
The new strategy for municipal and industrial facilities calls for the elimination of all facilities on the 'exceptions list' by July 1. These are considered chronic violators which have been on the significant noncompliance list for the same violation for two consecutive quarters.
The agreement also calls for eliminating significant noncompliance, though it does not set a date for accomplishing the goal. A facility is in significant noncompliance if it violates its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit during four months of a six month period; discharges material that threatens public health; falls more than 90 days behind an agreed upon compliance schedule; or makes certain technical or procedural violations.
In all, the new long-term strategy contains 21 goals for the states and the EPA.
Other goals include expanding the use of criminal sanctions as an enforcement tool; promoting the use of pollution prevention methods; and improving coordination between the states and the EPA through regular meetings.
The long-range strategy also calls for increasing compliance among the nearly 4,000 'minor dischargers' which release less than 1 million gallons of wastewater daily.
Facilities listed in significant noncompliance as of Dec. 31, 1990, were:
Eastern Stainless (private)
New Holland (public)
FMC, Fredericksburg (public)
District of Columbia
Blue Plains (public)