News and Analysis
Two bipartisan companion bills and resolutions were introduced this week to comprehensively address the health of Lake Erie.
The legislation package sponsored in the Senate by Senators Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and Sean O’Brien (D-Cortland) and in the House by Reps. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) is aimed to provide millions of dollars to fight and reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
The package would include $36 million in 2018 and $100 million more per year for ten years if voters approve a Clean Water Bond issue. 5/10/2018
On May 16, Ohio EPA will present the latest on its construction stormwater permit: Stormwater Permit Program Update Ohio- EPA’s NPDES Construction Storm Water General Permit Renewal (OHC000005).
Then on June 13, Ohio EPA will be holding a webinar on Universal Waste Rule Updates.
OMA members were heavily involved in both of these rule rewrites. 5/3/2018
OMA Connections Partner, Dinsmore, has published this informative AIR QUALITY Letter, which provides a range of updates on regulatory changes affecting air quality sources. 5/3/2018
This week Ohio EPA announced the final issuance of the General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit for Storm Water Associated with Construction Activity.
On the EPA’s website manufacturers can review the public notice, final general permit, fact sheet, and Ohio EPA’s responses to the summary of comments received from interested parties regarding the draft permit.
Thank you to all the members who were actively engaged throughout this process and improved the regulation. 4/26/2018
Pictured: Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler (right) with Kurt Thiede, Chief of Staff, U.S. EPA, Region V
Pictured: Members of U.S. EPA Region V staff
In a meeting this week with representatives of U.S. EPA Region V and Ohio EPA, participating OMA members heard updates on recent developments in all major program areas, and participated in a Q & A session with the agency staff members.
Top leaders of U.S. EPA Region V and Ohio EPA participated in the meeting, including the Region V Chief of staff Kurt Thiede and Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler.
The meeting in Chicago gave manufacturers a better look at the cooperation and the priorities of U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA. Issues discussed included air, water, land, and superfunds.
Members were given the opportunity to ask the regulators questions and nothing was off the table. Members who participated really enjoyed the morning, and the OMA will look to continue with our partners to offer this type of event each year. 4/19/2018
The Ohio EPA has completed its second statewide study which identifies sources and estimates the annual amount of phosphorus and other nutrients flowing from the state’s watersheds into Lake Erie and the Ohio River. The study covers the Maumee, Portage, Sandusky, Vermilion, Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Scioto and Muskingum watersheds, and includes some direct tributaries to Lake Erie.
The results of this study show “no clear trend of an overall decrease in loading in most watersheds, especially in nonpoint source dominated watersheds like the Maumee where the loading in 2017 was the highest of the years reported.”
In the Maumee watershed, 88% of the phosphorous contributed to Lake Erie is from nonpoint sources including agriculture. 4/17/2018
A working group of OMA members, allied with a few other interests, has succeeded in heading off an Ohio EPA regulatory overreach on phosphorus. For now.
See the full description of the EPA proposal here.
Most notable in the regulatory overreach are: a 1.0 mg/L cap on phosphorous, expanding the definition of “fertilizer” as agricultural pollution, civil penalties for odor nuisances, and redefining the state discharge level to protect water quality.
Contact Rob Brundrett for more information on this matter. 4/11/2018
This week the OMA filed a detailed letter with the Ohio EPA to express concerns with the agency’s draft permit: General Permit Authorization for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction Activity Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).
The OMA wrote: “The proposed changes encompassed in the draft permit would fundamentally change how this permit currently operates … Moreover, the changes would create state requirements that are substantially different than the federal requirements. … The draft permit not only requires the protection of storm water quality during the construction phase of projects, but now also attempts to control engineering and site hydrology both during and after (into perpetuity) all construction, resulting in a substantially increased burden on permittees. Further explanation and clarity is needed with these changes, to allow permittees to understand Ohio EPA’s expectations and intent.”
The OMA also filed joint comments with several other trade associations representing a multitude of impacted industries.
OMA’s contact for this issue is Rob Brundrett. 4/3/2018
Two weeks ago Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler announced his intent to have legislation introduced that would, among other things, place a statewide phosphorus limit of 1 mg/L on direct dischargers.
The OMA’s phosphorus working group has been working with legislators and experts on this issue since last summer.
Earlier this week Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton), who was thought to be the lawmaker to introduce the legislation, had this to say about the proposed EPA bill: “I plan on introducing legislation, but probably not in the form of the draft the Ohio EPA has provided me. I’ve been meeting with a number of interested parties, because this is much broader in scope than what I originally discussed with Ohio EPA. I think they have merit, some of the issues we’re discussing, but obviously as currently written there will be some strong opposition. I think there is a pathway for us to properly address it.”
This is good news for OMA members who will be impacted either through their own permits or as indirect dischargers.
The OMA work group was very active in derailing the EPA version. Thank you to the members who have donated time and expertise to this important issue. 4/5/2018
Yesterday, Ohio EPA released the draft 2018 water quality report that outlines the general condition of Ohio’s waters and includes a list that identifies impaired waters that are not meeting their federal or state water quality goals, as well as waters that have improved to meet federal standards.
The report includes information showing that the percentage of large river miles in full attainment of federal water quality goals has increased from 62.5% to 87.5%.
The report proposes to designate the open waters of Lake Erie’s Western Basin as impaired due to harmful algae and drinking water due to occurrences of microcystin. Previously, only the shoreline area of the Western Basin and drinking water intakes had been designated as impaired.
Ohio EPA is preparing to announce new legislation to combat the algae blooms in Lake Erie. Among the provisions in the soon to be introduced legislation is a statewide mandate capping phosphorus discharge for direct discharges to 1.0 mg/L.
This limit would impact all manufacturers including those who indirectly discharge to local water treatment facilities because those public treatment facilities will also be under the 1.0 mandate.
Please contact Rob Brundrett if you would like to participate in the OMA workgroup on this issue.
Ohio EPA will present information through a webinar on April 25, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. Comments on the draft report can be submitted by email or in writing to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049 Attn: 303(d) Comments, by the close of business May 4, 2018. 3/22/2018