EPA Blending Guidance Offers Key Uniformity, AMSA To Provide Comments

Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - November 4, 2003

For Immediate Release: November 4, 2003
Contact: Adam Krantz, 202/833-4651, AMSA

EPA Blending Guidance Offers Key Uniformity, AMSA To Provide Comments
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released today its much anticipated proposed guidance on blending, reaffirming the Agency’s long-standing policy that blending is an acceptable method of addressing peak wet weather flows at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). This long-standing practice offers a sound environmental alternative to backups into people’s homes and the potential discharge of untreated sewage into the nation’s rivers, lakes and streams. This practice ensures that peak excess flows receive proper treatment that, without blending, would not be achieved. This policy will provide important guidance to EPA Regions to explicitly clarify the Agency’s position that blending is an acceptable practice. This is especially important in the case of Regions III, IV, and VI, who are currently initiating enforcement actions on utilities that blend.

The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) believes EPA’s guidance is an important step toward reasonable wet weather policies and appropriately clarifies the fact that as long as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits are being met, blending constitutes an environmentally safe practice. Ken Kirk, Executive Director of AMSA, applauds the release of the proposed guidance, calling it "sound environmental policymaking that protects both the nation's waters and public health. The guidance also is cost-effective and takes into full account the practical realities that the nation's publicly owned treatment works face on a daily basis. Clarification of this blending issue is extremely important to the nation's POTWs and AMSA looks forward to working with EPA on this issue throughout the notice and comment period."

Blending involves mixing partially treated and fully treated effluent during peak wet weather flows. AMSA has worked tirelessly to ensure the Agency’s guidance would clarify that blending is not a bypass under EPA regulations as long as NPDES permit limits continue to be met by POTWs.

EPA notes in its press release that their policy will help to clarify the provisions of the Clean Water Act applicable to blending, and notes that the policy requires municipal sewage treatment facilities to implement safeguards, including enhanced monitoring. The Agency also notes that the policy emphasizes that sewage treatment facilities must maintain compliance with the Clean Water Act and encourages states to adopt EPA’s 1986 water quality criteria for pathogens and to ensure that blending is addressed in the permitting process.

The Association will address remaining POTW concerns with the guidance via the 60-day notice and comment process.

AMSA is a national trade association representing hundreds of the nation's publicly owned wastewater treatment utilities. AMSA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day. AMSA members are environmental practitioners dedicated to protecting and improving the nation's waters and public health.

1816 Jefferson Place, Washington, DC 20036-2505 • 202.833.AMSA • 202.833.4657 FAX