[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 26, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 75915-75916]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-30764]


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SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION

18 CFR Part 806


Review and Approval of Projects

AGENCY: Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking and public hearing.

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SUMMARY: This document contains proposed rules that would amend the 
project review regulations of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission 
(Commission) to include special requirements for withdrawals from 
surface water and groundwater sources which, from the point of taking 
or point of impact respectively, have a drainage area of equal to or 
less than ten square miles (headwater area); and to modify provisions 
relating to the issuance of emergency certificates by the Executive 
Director.

DATES: Comments on these proposed rules may be submitted to the 
Commission on or before February 25, 2013. The Commission has scheduled 
a public hearing on the proposed rulemaking, to be held February 14, 
2013, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The location of the public hearing 
is listed in the addresses section of this notice.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed to: Mr. Richard A. Cairo, Susquehanna 
River Basin Commission, 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102-
2391, or by email to rcairo@srbc.net.
    The public hearing will be held on February 14, 2013, at 3:00 p.m., 
at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Room 8E-B, East Wing, Commonwealth 
Avenue, Harrisburg, Pa. 17101. Those wishing to testify are asked to 
notify the Commission in advance, if possible, at the regular or 
electronic addresses given below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard A. Cairo, General Counsel, 
telephone: 717-238-0423, ext. 306; fax: 717-238-2436; email: 
rcairo@srbc.net. Also, for further information on the proposed 
rulemaking, visit the Commission's Web site at www.srbc.net.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background and Purpose of Amendments

    The basic purpose of the regulatory amendments set forth in this 
proposed rulemaking is to make further modifications to the 
Commission's project review regulations relating to surface and 
groundwater withdrawal limitations in headwater areas, and also 
relating to the issuance of emergency certificates by the Executive 
Director.
    The Commission adopted a Low Flow Protection Policy (LFPP) on 
December 14, 2012. The purpose of the LFPP is to provide implementation 
guidance to the Commission staff, project sponsors and the public on 
the criteria, methodology, and process used to evaluate withdrawal 
applications to ensure that any flow alteration related to such 
withdrawals does not cause significant adverse impacts to the water 
resources of the basin.
    When first released in draft form for public review in March 2012, 
the LFPP included certain restrictions on water withdrawals in 
headwater areas. Those provisions were removed from the policy upon 
final adoption, and instead are being proposed for inclusion in the 
Commission's project review regulations, given that they would 
establish a binding norm more appropriately contained in regulation.
    The addition of a new section, 18 CFR 806.6--Project limitations, 
provides that projects proposing to withdraw water in drainage areas 
equal to or less than ten square miles shall not be approved unless, in 
the case of a surface water withdrawal, the use associated with the 
project would occur on the tract of land that is riparian or littoral 
to the surface water source from which the water is withdrawn, or would 
be used to provide source water to a public water supply system. 
Likewise, a groundwater withdrawal that impacts a surface water source 
which, from the point of impact is in a headwater area, would not be 
approved unless the water use associated with the project would occur 
on the tract of land from which the water is withdrawn, or would be 
used to provide source water to a public water supply system. Language 
is also included that provides that withdrawals by public water supply 
systems shall be limited for use within the system's service area, and 
not for bulk sale outside such area.
    It is generally recognized that the smaller the drainage area, the 
less the amount of water that can be removed from it sustainably. On 
the whole, headwater areas of ten square miles or less have very 
limited yields, resulting in very limited water availability. The 
Commission believes it is appropriate, as a matter of sound public 
policy, to prioritize how that limited resource should be utilized by 
restricting its withdrawal for only uses within those areas or 
otherwise for public water supply.
    So as not to prejudice administratively complete applications 
currently undergoing review as of the date of this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, the Commission intends to

[[Page 75916]]

exempt such applications from the scope of this new rule if and when 
finally adopted.
    In addition, the Commission finds it desirable to clarify the 
provisions of 18 CFR 806.34 relating to the issuance of emergency 
certificates by the Executive Director. Amendatory language is proposed 
in paragraph (a) of Sec.  806.34 providing further criteria to apply in 
the exercise of this authority; namely, that consideration should be 
given to actions deemed necessary to sustain human life, health and 
safety, the life, health or safety of livestock, or the maintenance of 
electric system reliability, along with such other priorities 
established by the Commission relating to drought emergencies.
    Language is also proposed to 18 CFR 806.34(b) and (b)(2)(iii) 
clarifying that the authority is applicable to both unapproved projects 
and those operating under an existing Commission approval.

List of Subjects in 18 CFR Part 806

    Administrative practice and procedure, Water resources.

    Accordingly, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, the 
Susquehanna River Basin Commission proposes to amend 18 CFR part 806 as 
follows:

PART 806--REVIEW AND APPROVAL OF PROJECTS

Subpart A--General Provisions

    1. The authority citation for Part 806 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: Secs. 3.4, 3.5(5), 3.8, 3.10 and 15.2, Pub. L. 91-
575, 84 Stat. 1509 et seq.
    2. In Part 806, revise the Table of Contents for Subpart A to read 
as follows:

Subpart A--General Provisions

Sec.
806.1 Scope.
806.2 Purposes.
806.3 Definitions.
806.4 Projects requiring review and approval.
806.5 Projects that may require review and approval.
806.6 Project limitations.
806.7 Transfer of approvals.
806.8 Concurrent project review by member jurisdictions.
806.9 Waiver/modification.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec.  806.4, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  806.4  Projects requiring review and approval.

    (a) Except for activities relating to site evaluation or those 
authorized under Sec.  806.34, and subject to the limitations set forth 
in Sec.  806.6, no person shall undertake any of the following projects 
without prior review and approval by the Commission. The project 
sponsor shall submit an application in accordance with subpart B and 
shall be subject to the applicable standards in subpart C.
* * * * *


Sec. Sec.  806.6 through 806.8  [Redesignated as Sec. Sec.  806.7 
through 806.9]

    4. Redesignate Sec. Sec.  806.6 through 806.8 as Sec. Sec.  806.7 
through 806.9, and add new Sec.  806.6 to read as follows:


Sec.  806.6  Project limitations.

    Except for existing projects undergoing approval, modification or 
renewal, any project requiring review and approval under this section 
and involving a withdrawal from a surface water source which, from the 
point of taking, has a drainage area of equal to or less than ten 
square miles, or any groundwater withdrawal that may impact a surface 
water source which, from the point of impact, has a drainage area of 
equal to or less than ten square miles, shall not be approved unless:
    (a) In the case of a surface water withdrawal, the water use 
associated with the project will occur on the tract of land that is 
riparian or littoral to the surface water source from which the water 
is withdrawn, or will be used to provide source water to a public water 
supply system, as that term is defined in Sec.  806.3 or by statute or 
regulation of the host member state, for use within the system's 
service area and not for bulk sale outside such area.
    (b) In the case of a groundwater withdrawal, the water use 
associated with the project will occur on the tract of land from which 
the water is withdrawn, or will be used to provide source water to a 
public water supply system, as that term is defined in Sec.  806.3 or 
by statute or regulation of the host member state, for use within the 
system's service area and not for bulk sale outside such area.
    5. In Sec.  806.34, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (b)(2), and 
(b)(2)(iii) to read as follows:


Sec.  806.34  Emergencies.

    (a) Emergency certificates. The other requirements of these 
regulations notwithstanding, in the event of an emergency requiring 
immediate action to protect the public health, safety and welfare or to 
avoid substantial and irreparable injury to any person, property, or 
water resources when circumstances do not permit a review and 
determination in the regular course of the regulations in this part, 
the Executive Director, with the concurrence of the chairperson of the 
Commission and the commissioner from the affected member state, may 
issue an emergency certificate authorizing a project sponsor to take 
such action as the Executive Director may deem necessary and proper in 
the circumstances, pending review and determination by the Commission 
as otherwise required by this part. In the exercise of such authority, 
consideration should be given to actions deemed necessary to sustain 
human life, health and safety, or that of livestock, or the maintenance 
of electric system reliability to serve such needs, or any other such 
priorities that the Commission may establish from time to time 
utilizing its authority under Section 11.4 of the Compact related to 
drought emergencies.
    (b) Notification and application. A project sponsor shall notify 
the Commission, prior to commencement of the project, that an emergency 
certificate is needed. In the case of a project operating under an 
existing Commission approval seeking emergency approval to modify, 
waive or partially waive one or more conditions of such approval, 
notice shall be provide to the Commission prior to initiating the 
operational changes associated with the request. If immediate action, 
as defined by this section, is required by a project sponsor and prior 
notice to the Commission is not possible, then the project sponsor must 
contact the Commission within one (1) business day of the action. 
Notification may be by certified mail, facsimile, telegram, mailgram, 
electronic mail or other form of written communication. This 
notification must be followed within one (1) business day by submission 
of the following:
* * * * *
    (2) At a minimum, the application shall contain:
* * * * *
    (iii) Location map and schematic of proposed project, or in the 
case of a project operating under an existing Commission approval, the 
project approval reference and a description of the operational changes 
requested.
* * * * *

    Dated: December 17, 2012.
Thomas W. Beauduy,
Deputy Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 2012-30764 Filed 12-21-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7040-01-P