EPA Seeking Input on Changes to Sanitary Sewer Overflow and Peak Flow Rules

July 2010Newsletters In the Zone

On May 26, 2010, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water signed a Federal Register Notice seeking stakeholder input to help the EPA determine whether to modify the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations as they apply to municipal sanitary sewer collection systems and sanitary sewer overflows.

Input will be provided through both written comments and during four public listening sessions in late June and early July: Seattle (June 24), Atlanta (June 28), Kansas City (June 30) and Washington, DC (July 13). A webcast for members of the public who cannot attend the listening sessions will be held July 14, during which the EPA will accept oral comments over the phone. All sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time. View a copy of the presentation materials.

Properly designed, operated and maintained sanitary sewer systems are meant to collect and transport all of the sewage that flows into them to a publicly owned treatment works (POTW). However, occasional unintentional discharges of raw sewage from municipal sanitary sewers occur in almost every system. These types of discharges are called sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). SSOs have a variety of causes, including but not limited to severe weather, improper system operation and maintenance and vandalism. The EPA estimates that there are at least 40,000 SSOs each year. The untreated sewage from these overflows can contaminate our waters, causing serious water quality problems. It can also back up into basements, causing property damage and threatening public health.

Registration is now open for the public listening sessions on the EPA's efforts to initiate rulemaking to address sanitary sewer overflows and to resolve longstanding issues concerning peak flows. These public listening sessions will afford an opportunity for the public to provide input on regulatory and other actions the EPA is considering.

After a brief presentation by the EPA, public comments will be accepted. Attendees may sign up to give brief three-minute oral comments at the sessions, but written comments will also be accepted until August 2. The July 14 webcast will be a "virtual" listening session for anyone who cannot participate in one of the four live listening sessions. During the webcast attendees will be able to give comments over the phone.

To sign up for the public listening sessions or the webcast, please visit the EPA's web site.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].