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In one of the most significant set of water quality regulations in California in the last decade, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated the California Toxics Rule (CTR) and the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted the companion Statewide Implementation Policy (SIP) in the spring of 2000. These actions are expected to result in greater regulatory pressure (e.g. far more effluent limits for toxic pollutants) than exists in current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. It is also anticipated that the new permit limits resulting from these actions will result in permit compliance problems for a number of publicly owned treatment plants (POTWs). Municipalities have estimated that high-end annual compliance costs could top 500,000 million for POTWs, although the actual impact of these regulatory actions is yet to be realized. The impact of the federal water quality standards adopted in the CTR on Section 303(d) impaired waters listings and the implementation costs of subsequent Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are likely to be more significant, but have not been acknowledged or estimated in either rulemaking.

In light of the recent publication of the CTR and SIP, this paper will discuss the contents of the final rules, reassess what they mean for NPDES permits, and project the likely consequences of the rules for POTWs.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-01-01

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