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A Watershed Approach to Decentralized Wastewater Management

A Watershed Approach to Decentralized Wastewater Management

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A Watershed Approach to Decentralized Wastewater Management

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  1. A Watershed Approach to Decentralized Wastewater Management

  2. Need for a watershed approach • Single-focus approaches limit the range of possibilities • Many current water quality problems are from non-point sources (includes onsites) • Land use/cover/management and wastewater/stormwater management are key issues • Lack of integrated planning = poor results + wasted $$

  3. Context for planning & management • We have problems • Polluted waters • Organizational disconnects • Diffused authority • Few resources • We have solutions • Interested people • Improving science & technology • Better assessment & other tools

  4. Statutory and regulatory context • Clean Water Act • Water quality standards • NPDES discharge permits • Stream & wetland “filling” • Safe Drinking Water Act • Class V (large capacity systems) • Source water protection • Public health codes • Residential wastewater • Local Codes • Planning/zoning, subdivision, etc.

  5. Source Water Protection Map for Slate Creek (Montgomery County KY)

  6. Clean Water Act Part I: Technology Based

  7. NPDES Highlights • Point Source: Any discernable, confined, discrete conveyance, including pipes and ditches • Pollutant: Chemical wastes, biological materials, sewage, etc. • Waters of the US: Interstate waters & wetlands, waters used in interstate & foreign commerce, and their tributaries & adjacent wetlands; the seas at high tide

  8. Clean Water Act Part II:Water Quality Standards • What are you using it for? • What criteria support that use? • How will you keep it from degrading?

  9. WQS: development and implementation process • WQS established by states and tribes; USEPA must review/approve prior to becoming effective • If USEPA disapproves a state or tribe WQS and state or tribe doesn't revise it, USEPA promulgates a WQS • Public review and comment at state, tribe, and federal levels

  10. Recreational Uses • – Primary contact (swimming) • – Secondary contact (boating, etc.

  11. Drinking water supply uses • – Filtered/unfiltered

  12. Warmwater/coldwater aquatic life uses

  13. WQS: Water Quality Criteria (WQC) • Consistent scientifically with protecting all designated uses (DUs) • Basic types of criteria • Narrative/numeric • Water column/sediment/ fish tissue • Categories of criteria • Aquatic life • Pollutant-specific/aquatic community indices • Human health (drinking/fish consumption) • Wildlife (semiaquatic/food chain effects)

  14. Example: Numeric criteria for warmwater aquatic habitat

  15. WQS: antidegradation provisions • Purpose: Prevent deterioration of existing levels of good water quality • States must have antideg policy & an implementation procedure • Three tiers of protection • Tier 1: must maintain water quality criteria • Tier 2: must justify lowering WQ • Tier 3: outstanding waters cannot be degraded

  16. Ongoing state monitoring to determine if WQSs are being met (Sec. 305b) Waters that are impaired or threatened are placed on the 303(d) list TMDLs must be developed for problem parameters TMDLs ID sources & propose needed pollutant reductions Identifying water quality problems

  17. Leading causes & sources of impairment • Causes • Siltation (sediment) • Nutrients • Pathogens (bacteria) • Oxygen-depleting substances • Pesticides • Sources • Agriculture • Municipal point sources • Hydromodification • Habitat modification • Resource extraction • Urban runoff / storm sewers

  18. Addressing Water Quality Issues via a Watershed Approach

  19. EPA’s New Watershed Planning Handbook http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/watershed_handbook/

  20. Watersheds Subwatershed (14-digit HUC or small urban drainage) Watershed (11-digit HUC; may vary) 04 01 02 03 06 05 07 River Basin

  21. A watershed approach helps to... 1. Encourage Sound Science 2. Facilitate Communication and Partnerships 3. Provide Means of Cost-Effective Management 4. Focus on Environmental Results

  22. Watershed Mgmt. Plans TMDLs & Implementation Plans Source Water Protection Plans Water Resource Dev./Supply Plans Animal Feeding Operations Erosion & Sediment Control Channel & Lake Restoration Plans Coastal Mgmt / Nat’l Estuary Program Decentralized Wastewater Mgmt Plans Ag/Range Management Plans Forest/Fisheries Management Plans Floodplain, Parks, Planning & Zoning POTW 208 & CSO/SSO Plans Stormwater Permit Activities Nonpoint Source Issues Point Source Issues

  23. Watershed Planning Steps STEP 1 BUILD PARTNERSHIPS • ID stakeholders • ID issues of concern • Set preliminary goals • Develop indicators • Conduct outreach

  24. Watershed Planning Steps STEP 1 BUILD PARTNERSHIPS • ID stakeholders • ID issues of concern • Set preliminary goals • Develop indicators • Conduct outreach STEP 2 CHARACTERIZE WATERSHED • Gather existing data • Create data inventory • ID data gaps • Collect additional data, if needed • Analyze data • ID causes and sources • Estimate pollutant loads

  25. Watershed Planning Steps STEP 1 BUILD PARTNERSHIPS • ID stakeholders • ID issues of concern • Set preliminary goals • Develop indicators • Conduct outreach STEP 3 FINALIZE GOALS AND IDENTIFY SOLUTIONS • Set goals and management objectives • Develop indicators/targets • Determine load reductions needed • ID critical areas • ID management measures needed STEP 2 CHARACTERIZE WATERSHED • Gather existing data • Create data inventory • ID data gaps • Collect additional data, if needed • Analyze data • ID causes and sources • Estimate pollutant loads

  26. k Watershed Planning Steps STEP 1 BUILD PARTNERSHIPS • ID stakeholders • ID issues of concern • Set preliminary goals • Develop indicators • Conduct outreach STEP 4 DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM • Develop Implementation schedule • Set Interim milestones • Determine how you will measure success • Develop monitoring component • Develop evaluation process • ID technical and financial assistance needed • Assign responsibility STEP 3 FINALIZE GOALS AND ID SOLUTIONS • Set goals and management objectives • Develop indicators/targets • Determine load reductions needed • ID critical areas • ID management measures needed STEP 2 CHARACTERIZE WATERSHED • Gather existing data • Create data inventory • ID data gaps • Collect additional data, if needed • Analyze data • ID causes and sources • Estimate pollutant loads

  27. k Watershed Planning Steps STEP 1 BUILD PARTNERSHIPS • ID stakeholders • ID issues of concern • Set preliminary goals • Develop indicators • Conduct outreach STEP 5 IMPLEMENT WATERSHED PLAN • Implement management strategies • Conduct monitoring • Conduct outreach activities STEP 4 DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM • Develop Implementation schedule • Set Interim milestones • Determine how you will measure success • Develop monitoring component • Develop evaluation process • ID technical and financial assistance needed • Assign responsibility STEP 3 FINALIZE GOALS AND ID SOLUTIONS • Set goals and management objectives • Develop indicators/targets • Determine load reductions needed • ID critical areas • ID management measures needed STEP 2 CHARACTERIZE WATERSHED • Gather existing data • Create data inventory • ID data gaps • Collect additional data, if needed • Analyze data • ID causes and sources • Estimate pollutant loads

  28. k Watershed Planning Steps STEP 1 BUILD PARTNERSHIPS • ID stakeholders • ID issues of concern • Set preliminary goals • Develop indicators • Conduct outreach STEP 6 MEASURE PROGRESS AND MAKE ADJUSTMENTS • Review and evaluate • Share results • Prepare annual plans • Make adjustments STEP 5 IMPLEMENT WATERSHED PLAN • Implement management strategies • Conduct monitoring • Conduct outreach activities STEP 4 DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM • Develop Implementation schedule • Set Interim milestones • Determine how you will measure success • Develop monitoring component • Develop evaluation process • ID technical and financial assistance needed • Assign responsibility STEP 3 FINALIZE GOALS AND ID SOLUTIONS • Set goals and management objectives • Develop indicators/targets • Determine load reductions needed • ID critical areas • ID management measures needed STEP 2 CHARACTERIZE WATERSHED • Gather existing data • Create data inventory • ID data gaps • Collect additional data, if needed • Analyze data • ID causes and sources • Estimate pollutant loads

  29. Steps in the Watershed Planning and Implementation Process

  30. EPA’s Nine Elements for Plans a. Identify causes & sources of pollution b. Estimate load reductions expected c. Describe mgmt measures & targeted critical areas d. Estimate technical and financial assistance needed e. Develop education component f. Develop schedule g. Describe interim, measurable milestones h. Identify indicators to measure progress i. Develop a monitoring component Source: US EPA, 2004 319 Supplemental Guidelines

  31. Incorporation of the nine minimum elements

  32. Contents of the Watershed Plan • Introduction • Plan area & description, partners, background • Water quality information & analysis • WQ goals, monitoring/assessment results • Key pollutants / stressors, sources, current loads • Proposed management measures • Load reductions needed, BMP types proposed • Reductions expected from BMPs, installation sites • Implementation plan • Public info/education & outreach/involvement plan • BMP/$$/TA support sources, project schedule & costs • Monitoring and adaptive management approach • Interim measurable milestones, load reduction criteria • Evaluation framework, monitoring plan & partners

  33. Existing loads come from: • Point-source discharges (NPDES facilities) • Info is available on the discharges (DMRs, etc.) • Some are steady-flow, others are precip-driven • Nonpoint sources (polluted runoff) • All are (mostly) precip-driven • Calculating the “wash-off, runoff” load is tough • Literature values can be used to estimate • Modeling gets you closer . . . . do you need it? • Air / atmospheric deposition • Can be significant in some locations

  34. What is a “load?” • Maybe measured by weight . . . • Kilograms of N per day • Pounds of P per week • Maybe not . . . • Concentration-based expression of the “load” (e.g., milligrams per liter) • mg/L x L/day = mg/day [C = m/v] • # of treatment systems needing inspections, service/pumping, repairs, or replacement • of miles of streambank needing stabilization or vegetation • # of AFOs requiring nutrient plans

  35. Combining data sources and modeling watershed “behavior”

  36. Source: STATSGO Database, USDA-NRCS NRCS ratings based on soils, slopes, and groundwater

  37. Many assessment tools are out there, e.g., DRASTIC, MANAGE, & others

  38. Relating endpoints to models

  39. Who will implement the plan? Structure can vary widely • Public agencies • Cities, counties • Water or wastewater utility • State agency or river authority • Basin planning teams • Private entities • Watershed association • Ag producer council Any well-organized single or multiple entity approach can coordinate and document the effort

  40. The good, the bad, and the unknown Watershed assessment and management has the potential to change the way people look at wastewater treatment infrastructure

  41. Rocky Mountain Institute Cost/Benefit Analysis of Centralized and Decentralized Wastewater Optionswww.rmi.org

  42. The Good • Onsite & decentralized systems are not a big problem in most places • Agriculture, “big pipe” treatment system CSOs & SSOs, construction/development, urban runoff, & etc. are more significant • Notable exceptions exist in some localities, with high public attention & interest in solutions (e.g., homes around a recreational lake) • Decentralized wastewater treatment technologies are dependable & performing well, for the most part • Greater acceptance of new technologies in more places • New focus on perpetual management can address poor public perceptions and improve acceptance • Management is also creating new business opportunities • Combined sewer overflow and sanitary sewer overflow problems increase interest in decentralized approaches

  43. CSOs locations in the US

  44. CSOs and SSOs • 850 billion gallons discharged annually from 43,000 combined sewer overflow events • 9,348 CSO outfalls located in 32 states and DC • $88 billion needed to address CSOs • ~50,000 sanitary sewer overflows annually discharge 3-10 billion gallons • $50.6 billion needed for SSOs

  45. The Bad • Approvals for new technologies still difficult in some jurisdictions • Wastewater codes being used as de facto zoning in many locales • System selection/design driven by site – rather than watershed – considerations • Integration of wastewater and stormwater planning is moving slowly • More technical expertise is needed in local regulatory and planning agencies

  46. Folly Beach, SC Survey

  47. The Unknown • How much $$ will be available (or not) for wastewater treatment infrastructure? • Will public & private entities become more willing to function as RMEs? • Will system users be willing to pay fees? • Will CSO & SSO enforcement drive more cities to consider decentralized solutions? • Will planning & zoning ‘grow up’ during this millennium? • Will ‘decentralized’ or ‘modular’ treatment approaches gain widespread acceptance? • Are planners and builders making the connection between low impact development & decentralized wastewater management?

  48. Lot Yield Plan – Used to determine # of lots allowed by zoning, using a conventional subdivision layout Source: Arendt, Conservation Design for Subdivisions