The final rule with public notification requirements for utilities discharging combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the Great Lakes and other bodies of water in the Great Lakes basin was published in the Federal Register on January 8. The rule requires utilities to develop a notification plan, to provide public notification of CSOs within four hours of “becoming aware” of the discharge, to submit supplemental notification within seven days, and to provide an annual report with information about all CSOs. The requirements contain several revisions requested by NACWA in its comments on the proposed rule, including clarification on the requirements for “becoming aware” of a discharge, an extended time period for submission of the supplemental report, and additional flexibility with how and when the annual report is submitted. NACWA’s role in working with EPA on the rule made the final version much less onerous on utilities than it could have been.
EPA was required to develop this rule by Congress. NACWA successfully pushed back on an initial proposal that would have required elimination of CSO discharges, which would have been prohibitively expensive for utilities and questionable environmental results. NACWA communicated with EPA throughout the rule development process, ensuring that the practical concerns of utilities were considered by the Agency.
NACWA will be hosting a conference call later this month with Great Lakes utilities affected by the rule to determine if there are any remaining concerns about rule implementation. Any members interested in participating in the call or with questions about the rule should contact Cynthia Finley.