GA-EPD Rule Public Hearing with written comment period 2018-05-22

Sending written comments makes more sense than four hours to Atlanta Tuesday, May 22, 2018, for this two-hour Public Hearing on water quality rules changes.


Reed Bingham State Park Lake, site of the 6th Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race, Saturday April 28, 2018.

DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION DIVISION

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING AND PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO GEORGIA’S RULES FOR WATER QUALITY CONTROL

CHAPTER 391-3-6

TO ALL INTERESTED PERSONS AND PARTIES:

Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to the authority set forth below, the Environmental Protection Division (hereinafter, “EPD”) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources proposes amendments to the Rules for Water Quality Control, Chapter 391-3-6. Specific amendments are proposed to Rule 391-3-6-.03, “Water Use Classifications and Water Quality Standards” (hereinafter, the “proposed rule amendments”), pertaining to the Triennial Review process. The Director of EPD certifies that the proposed rule amendments are authorized by 40 CFR 131.4, and EPD is delegated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement Section 303, 304(a), and 307(a) of the Clean Water Act.

This notice, together with an exact copy of the proposed rule amendments[1], a synopsis, and statement of rationale of the proposed rule amendments, is being provided to all persons who have requested in writing that they be placed on a notification list. These documents may be viewed at https://epd.georgia.gov/chapter-391-3-6-rules-water-quality-control or during normal business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Watershed Protection Branch file room, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, SW, West Tower, Balcony, Suite 418, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334. Copies may also be requested by contacting the Watershed Protection Branch at (404) 463-1511 or the Environmental Protection Division Director’s Office at 1-888-373-5947. Additional supporting technical documents are available for viewing at https://epd.georgia.gov/triennial-review-water-quality-standards or during normal business hours at the Watershed Protection Branch file room.

To provide the public an opportunity to comment upon and provide input into the proposed rule amendments, a public hearing will be held at the following time and location:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 (1:00 — 3:00 p.m.) in the EPD Training Center located at 4244 International Parkway, Suite 116, Atlanta, Georgia 30354.

At the public hearing, anyone may present data, make a statement, comment or offer a viewpoint or argument either orally or in writing. Lengthy statements or statements of a considerable technical or economic nature, as well as previously recorded messages, must be submitted in writing for the official record. Oral statements should be concise.

Written comments are welcomed. In order to be included in EPD’s summary to the Board of Natural Resources, written comments should be received on or before May 25, 2018. Written comments may be emailed to EPDComments@dnr.ga.gov or sent via regular mail addressed to: Elizabeth Booth, Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, SW, Suite 1152, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334. If you choose to e-mail your comments, please include the words “Water Quality Standards Triennial Review” in the subject line to help ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff.

The proposed rule amendments will be considered for adoption by the Board of Natural Resources at its meeting at 9:00 a.m. on June 27, 2018 at the DNR Board Room, 2 MLK Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1252 East, Atlanta, Georgia 30334. The meeting is open to the public.

For further information, please contact Elizabeth Booth of the Watershed Protection Branch, Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program, at (404) 463-4929.

Many of the specific changes seem to be copy-editing, such as adding pH to a paragraph where it was apparently inadvertently omitted, since it is already mentioned in the next paragraph. Others have to do with estuarine waters, of which WWALS has none in Georgia (the Suwannee River Estuary is in Florida).

So far I have found this one significant change, in 391-3-6-.03(6)(a)(i):

  1. Bacteria: The provisions of paragraph 391-3-6-.03(6)(a)(i)1. shall apply until the effective date of EPA’s final approval of the criteria specified in paragraph 391-3-6-.03(6)(a)(i)2.
    1. For the months of May through October, when water contact recreation activities are expected to occur, fecal coliform not to exceed a geometric mean of 200 counts per 100 mL based on at least four samples collected from a given sampling site over a 30-day period at intervals not less than 24 hours. Should water qual ity and sanitary studies show fecal coliform levels from non-human sources exceed 200 counts per / 100 mL (geometric mean) occasionally, then the allowable geometric mean fecal coliform shall not exceed 300 counts per 100 mL in lakes and reservoirs and 500 counts per 100 mL in free flowing freshwater streams. For the months of November through April, fecal coliform not to exceed a geometric mean of 1,000 counts per 100 mL based on at least four samples collected from a given sampling site over a 30-day period at intervals not less than 24 hours and not to exceed a maximum of 4,000 counts per 100 mL for any sample.
    2. For the months of May through October, when water contact recreation activities are expected to occur, culturable E. coli not to exceed a geom etric mean of 126 counts per 100 mL. The geometric mean duration shall not be greater than 30 days. There shall be no greater than a ten percent excursion frequency of an E. coli statistical threshold value (STV) of 410 counts per 100 mL in the same 30-day interval. Should water quality and sanitary studies show E. coli levels from non-human sources exceed 126 counts per 100 mL (geometric mean) occasionally, then the allowable geometric mean E. coli shall not exceed 189 counts per 100 mL in lakes and reservoirs and 315 counts per 100 mL in free flowing freshwater streams. For the months of November through April, culturable E. coli not to exceed a geometric mean of 630 counts per 100 mL. The geometric mean duration shall not be greater than 30 days. There shall be no greater than a ten percent excursion frequency of an E. coli statistical threshold value (STV) of 2050 counts per 100 mL in the same 30-day interval.

There’s a similar change for fecal coliform in 391-3-6-.03(6)(c)(iii).

So these changes lower the allowable levels of E. coli and fecal coliform, which is good.

But what’s this about water contact recreation only being expected May through October? Maybe in cold north Georgia, but it’s year-round hereabouts.

This is all the Specific Water Use Classificaitons says about anything in the Suwannee River Basin, other than “Streams and stream reaches not specifically listed are classified as Fishing.”

SUWANNEE RIVER BASIN CLASSIFICATION
Big Creek Lake Laura S. Walker, Laura Walker State Park Beach Recreation
Little River Reed Bingham State Park Lake, Reed Bingham State Park Lake Beach Recreation

Half of that table seems confused, since Laura S. Walker State Park is on Big Creek which flows into the Satilla River, and is not in the Suwannee River Basin. Well, GA-EPD is based in Atlanta….

Reed Bingham State Park on the Little River which flows into the Withlacoochee is in the Suwannee River Basin.

I hope to see you there this Saturday at Little River Fest and of course at the end of the month at sixth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race, Saturday, April 28, 2018.

See the WWALS calendar and the WWALS outings and events for more things coming up.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

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