States still do not want to follow the law in writing Clean Water Act NPDES permits
December 18, 2015
The law is quite clear that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits are supposed to have the more stringent limit of what can be done by every discharger of that class (the technology-based limit= TBEL) and what is necessary to protect the particular waters into which the pollution will flow (the water quality based effluent limit = WQBEL). 33 U.S.C. Section 1311(b)(1)(C). In order to eventually eliminate water pollution, all dischargers have to at least put in the controls that have been found practicable for their type of operation and, in order to protect water quality, no one can be allowed to discharge in a way that harms aquatic life, fishing, swimming or drinking water. Unfortunately, pollution dischargers and the state agencies who love them generally want permit limits that are the less stringent of the TBEL and the WQBEL. Much of my work over the past five years has related to this problem.
I'd like to think that things will be better in 2016 but I fear that next year municipalities, corporations and agencies will still want to do what is economically or politically convenient instead of what is necessary to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." (Clean Water Act Section 101).
Anyway, Happy New Year.
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