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Important information for PA Water Utilities: Public Hearings on Manganese begin today

Public Hearings on Manganese begin today

The virtual public hearings for the proposed manganese rulemaking are this week (Sept. 8, 9, and 10 – see below).  DEP really needs people to sign up and testify in support of this proposed rulemaking.

 

It’s important that we have water suppliers offer their support for this proposed regulation on behalf of your system or if you represent an association.  It’s 5 minutes of your time to make a statement – there is no cross examination or questions.

 

Manganese Standard

 

Water Quality Standard for Manganese #7-553) Administrative Code of 1929, Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, Federal Clean Water Act 25 Pa. Code Chapters 93 and 96

 

This rulemaking will propose to address a provision included in Act 40 of 2017. DEP would still propose moving the point of compliance of the 1 mg/L standard to the point of water intake as required by Act 40.  However, DEP also proposes to set a new toxic substances health water discharge limit for manganese of 0.3 mg/L, rather than 1 mg/L, because existing literature shows the 1 mg/L standard is not protective of human health due to its neurotoxic impacts. The new proposed 0.3 mg/L toxic health standard would apply to all discharges going into surface waters as the 1 mg/L had been before Act 40.

 

  • Status:  Proposed – EQB adopted on December 17, 2019

 

 

Interested persons are invited to submit to the Board written comments, suggestions, support or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking. Comments, suggestions, support or objections must be received by the Board by September 25, 2020.

Comments may be submitted to the Board by accessing eComment http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment.

 

Comments may be submitted to the Board by e-mail at RegComments@pa.gov. A subject heading of the proposed rulemaking and a return name and address must be included in each transmission.

 

Written comments should be mailed to the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477. Express mail should be sent to the Environmental Quality Board, Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301.

 

  • Three virtual public hearings to be held:

 

  • September 8, 2020, at 2 p.m.
  • September 9, 2020, at 6 p.m.
  • September 10, 2020, at 2 p.m.

 

Persons wishing to present testimony at a hearing must contact Jennifer Swan for the Department and the Board, (717) 783-8727 or RA-EPEQB@pa.gov at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing to reserve a time to present testimony.

Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on their behalf at only one hearing. Verbal testimony is limited to 5 minutes for each witness. Video demonstrations and screen sharing by witnesses will not be permitted.

Witnesses are requested to submit written copy of their verbal testimony by e-mail to RegComments@pa.gov after providing testimony at the hearing.

 

Information on how to access the hearings will be available on the Board’s webpage found through the Public Participation tab on the Department of Environmental Protection’s (Department) web site at www.dep.pa.gov (select ”Public Participation,” then ”Environmental Quality Board”). Prior to each hearing, individuals are encouraged to visit the Board’s webpage for the most current information for accessing each hearing.

 

Talking Points

 

_______ supports the proposed rulemaking to amend Chapters 93 and 96 (relating to water quality standards; and water quality standards implementation).

 

Specifically, _____ supports the Environmental Quality Board’s (EQB) proposal of a new numeric human health criterion for manganese of 0.3 mg/L in Chapter 93.8 (Water Quality Criteria for Toxic Substances) and the deletion of the existing 1 mg/L standard because it is not protective of human health.  The new proposed 0.3 mg/L toxic health standard would apply to all discharges going into surface waters, just as the existing 1 mg/L standard.

 

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reviewed the effects of manganese on human health and determined that current science shows manganese is harmful to human health as a possible nervous system toxin with implications to early childhood development at levels that are less than the threshold levels that impact aquatic life.

 

DEP believes the new proposed 0.3 mg/L toxic health standard will protect human health from the neurotoxicological effects of manganese, as well as ensure adequate protection of all water uses.

 

The EQB is also proposing for public comment, two alternatives for a point of compliance with the manganese water quality standard:

 

  1. the point of all existing or planned surface potable water supply withdrawals; or
  2. all surface waters (that is, near the point of discharge).

 

However, the proposed amendments, set forth in Annex A, support both alternatives.

 

_______ supports maintaining the current point of compliance for manganese, in all surface waters (that is near the point of discharge), as stated in § 96.3 (c).

 

Water suppliers have been greatly concerned with the legislative provision included in the Administrative Code (Act 40 of 2017) to require the EQB to set a water quality standard for manganese.  Act 40 would shift the burden for treating manganese discharges from mine sites and other sources from those polluting the water to those using the water, like public water suppliers.  The consequence would put the entire burden of meeting the manganese standard on water suppliers at a significant cost, as the 1 mg/L standard is 20 times the level of manganese that water suppliers can have in their water supplies (.05 mg/L) in accordance with EPA and DEP’s secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs).  Pennsylvania enforces SMCLs, as they assist public water systems in managing their drinking water for aesthetic considerations, such as taste, color, and odor complaints.  At relatively low concentrations (0.02 mg/L or greater), manganese can cause discolored water (usually black or dark red/brown), staining of laundry and plumbing fixtures and increased turbidity.  At higher levels, manganese can create a metallic taste in water (0.1 mg/L or greater).  These are significant concerns for both water customers and water suppliers.

 

Therefore, water suppliers monitor for manganese in their source water to make sure they can properly treat it before it becomes a problem.  Moving the point of compliance for manganese would result in higher levels of manganese in the source water causing water systems to experience increases in monitoring costs and increases in treatment costs due to the need to modify existing treatment processes or to provide additional treatment.  For example, DEP staff informed the WRAC that 280 of the 340 surface water treatment plants in the state would have to evaluate whether to make treatment changes if the manganese compliance point were moved without the addition of a stricter standard upstream.

 

Finally, it is also important to note that manganese does not degrade – dilution is NOT the solution – so it must be addressed through treatment or mitigation at the point of discharge.  Fundamentally, reducing pollution into our waterways should be the responsibility of the generator of that pollution, at the point of discharge, and NOT the public water supplier at the point of water supply intake.

 

 

 

Erik A. Ross

Senior Associate

Milliron & Goodman Government Relations, LLC.

200 North 3rd Street

Suite 1500

Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone:  717-232-5322

Cell:  717-574-3963

erik@millirongoodman.com

 

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