[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 147 (Monday, August 1, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 50434-50436]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-18133]



40 CFR Part 122

[EPA-HQ-OW-2016-0376; FRL-9950-07-OW]

Public Notification for Combined Sewer Overflows in the Great 
Lakes; Public Listening Session; Request for Stakeholder Input

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Request for stakeholder input.


SUMMARY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing plans 
to hold a public ``listening session'' on September 14, 2016 in 
Chicago, Illinois to obtain information from the public to help inform 
development of a new regulation establishing public notification 
requirements for combined sewer overflow discharges in the Great Lakes. 
This rulemaking is in response to new requirements included with the 
2016 appropriations. EPA is requesting input from the public regarding 
potential approaches for these new public notification requirements for 
combined sewer overflow discharges in the Great Lakes through 
participation in the public listening session and by submitting 
information in writing at the listening sessions or to the agency 
directly through email, fax, or mail. The agency is undertaking this 
outreach to help it shape a future regulatory proposal intended to 
provide the affected public with information that will help better 
protect public health.

DATES: The session will be held on September 14, 2016. Comments must be 
received on or before September 23, 2016.

ADDRESSES: The public listening session will be held at the 
Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Office (Lake Erie Room, Floor 
12), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604-3507. Submit your 
comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2016-0378, to the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments 
cannot be edited or withdrawn. EPA may publish any comment received to 
its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you 
consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other 
information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia 
submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written 
comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and 
should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will 
generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of 
the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or other file sharing 
system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment 
policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general 
guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets. For details on the public 
listening session see SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Biddle, Water Permits Division, 
Office of Water (4203M), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-
566-0350; fax number: 202-564-6392; email address: [email protected]. 
Also see the following Web site for additional information regarding 
the rulemaking: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/combined-sewer-overflows-great-lakes-basin.


I. General Information

A. Public Listening Session

    EPA will hold an informal public listening session to afford an 
opportunity for the public to provide input on a regulatory action that 
EPA is considering to establish public notification requirements for 
combined sewer overflow discharges in the Great Lakes. Brief oral 
comments (three minutes or less) and written statements will be 
accepted at the session. The listening session will be held on 
September 14, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the Environmental Protection Agency 
Region 5 Office (Lake Erie Room, Floor 12), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, 
Chicago, IL 60604-3507. The listening session will continue until all 
speakers in attendance have had a chance to provide comments or 3 p.m., 
whichever comes first. If time allows after all comments have been 
heard, a broader discussion may take place regarding topics identified 
under Section III, Input on Public Notice Considerations.

B. Additional Information and Public Meeting Registration

    Prior to the public meeting date, EPA will post any relevant 
materials to the following Web site: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/combined-sewer-overflows-great-lakes-basin. Information posted to the 
Web site will include any handouts that may be provided at the meeting 
as well as a web link that participants may use to register for the 
public meeting in advance. Advanced registration is not required but is 
requested so that EPA can ensure there is sufficient space and time 
allotted for those who wish to participate.

II. Background

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be proposing a rule 
to establish public notification requirements for combined sewer 
overflows (CSOs) to the Great Lakes, as required by Section 425 of the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (Pub. L. 114-113) (hereafter, 
referred to as ``Section 425''). Section 425 requires EPA to work with 
the Great Lakes states to create these public notice requirements, and 
EPA is also seeking public input in the development of these 

Combined Sewer Overflows From Municipal Wastewater Collection Systems

    Municipal wastewater collection systems collect domestic sewage and 
other wastewater from homes and other buildings and convey it to 
wastewater treatment plants for proper treatment and disposal. The 
collection and treatment of municipal sewage and wastewater is vital to 
the public health in our cities and towns. In the United States, 
municipalities historically have used two major types of sewer systems. 
Many municipalities collect domestic sewage in a sanitary sewer system 
and convey the sewage to a publicly owned treatment works (POTW) for 
treatment. These municipalities also have separate sewer systems to 
collect surface

[[Page 50435]]

drainage and stormwater, known as ``municipal separate storm sewer 
systems'' or ``MS4s.'' Separate sanitary sewer systems are not designed 
to collect large amounts of runoff from rain or snowmelt or provide 
widespread surface drainage, although they typically are built with 
some allowance for higher flows that occur during storm events to 
handle minor amounts of stormwater or groundwater that enter the 
    The other type, combined sewer systems, is designed to collect both 
sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff in a single-pipe system. This 
type of sewer system provides the primary means of surface drainage 
carrying rain and snowmelt away from streets, roofs, and other 
impervious surfaces. Combined sewer systems were among the earliest 
sewer systems constructed in the United States and were built until the 
first part of the 20th century.
    A combined sewer system collects rainwater and snowmelt runoff, 
domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater into one pipe. Under normal 
conditions, it transports all of the wastewater it collects to a sewage 
treatment plant for treatment. The volume of wastewater can sometimes 
exceed the capacity of the combined sewer system or treatment plant 
(e.g., during heavy rainfall events or snowmelt). When this occurs, 
these systems are designed to divert some of the combined sewage prior 
to reaching the treatment plant and to discharge untreated or partially 
treated stormwater and wastewater directly to nearby streams, rivers 
and other water bodies. These discharge events are referred to as 
combined sewer overflows or CSOs.
    CSOs contain untreated or partially treated human and industrial 
waste, toxic materials, and debris as well as stormwater. CSO events 
can be detrimental to human health and the environment because they 
introduce pathogens, bacteria, and other pollutants to receiving 
waters, causing beach closures, contaminating drinking water supplies 
and impairing water quality. Fish and other aquatic populations also 
can be impacted by the depleted oxygen levels that can be caused by 
    Combined sewer systems serve a total population of about 40 million 
people nationwide. Most communities with CSOs are located in the 
Northeast and Great Lakes regions, particularly in Illinois, Indiana, 
Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. 
Although large cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta have 
combined sewer systems, most communities with combined sewer systems 
have fewer than 10,000 people. Most combined sewer systems have 
multiple CSO discharge locations or outfalls, with some larger 
communities with combined systems having hundreds of CSO outfalls.

Combined Sewer Overflows in the Great Lakes

    There are 184 communities with combined sewer systems serving 
communities in the United States portion of the Great Lakes and the 
Great Lakes System (``Great Lakes Basin'').\1\ This includes 
communities in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, 
Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. EPA recently summarized available 
information on the occurrence and volume of discharges from CSOs in the 
Great Lakes Basin during 2014 (see Report to Congress: Combined Sewers 
in the Great Lakes (EPA 833-R-16-006)). As summarized in this report, 
seven states reported 1,482 events where untreated combined stormwater, 
industrial wastewater, and domestic sewage was discharged from CSOs in 
the Great Lakes Basin in 2014 and an additional 187 CSO events where 
partially treated wastewater were discharged. Additional information 
regarding CSOs in the Great Lakes Basin, including the Report to 
Congress, is available at https://www.epa.gov/npdes/combined-sewer-overflows-great-lakes-basin.

    \1\ Section 425 specifies in Section 425(a)(4) that the term 
``Great Lakes'' means ``any of the waters as defined in the Section 
118(a)(3) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 
1292).'' This, therefore, includes Section 118(a)(3)(B), which 
defines ``Great Lakes'' as ``Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron 
(including Lake St. Clair), Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior, and 
the connecting channels (Saint Mary's River, Saint Clair River, 
Detroit River, Niagara River, and Saint Lawrence River to the 
Canadian Border);'' and Section 118(a)(3)(C), which defines ``Great 
Lakes System'' as ``all the streams, rivers, lakes, and other bodies 
of water within the drainage basin of the Great Lakes.'' 
Collectively, EPA is referring to the Great Lakes and the Great 
Lakes System as the ``Great Lakes Basin.''

Clean Water Act Regulations That Apply to Combined Sewer Systems

    The Clean Water Act establishes national goals and requirements for 
maintaining and restoring the nation's waters. CSO discharges are 
subject to the technology-based and water quality-based requirements of 
the Clean Water Act under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
System (NPDES) permits. Technology-based effluent limitations for CSO 
discharges are based on the application of best available technology 
economically achievable (BAT) for toxic and nonconventional pollutants 
and best conventional pollutant control technology (BCT) for 
conventional pollutants. BAT and BCT effluent limitations for CSO 
discharges are determined based on ``best professional judgment.'' CSO 
discharges are not subject to permit limits based on secondary 
treatment requirements that are applicable to POTWs. Permits 
authorizing discharges from CSO outfalls must include more stringent 
water quality-based requirements, when necessary, to meet water quality 
standards (WQS).

CSO Control Policy

    EPA issued the CSO Control Policy on April 19, 1994 (59 FR 18688). 
The CSO Control Policy ``represents a comprehensive national strategy 
to ensure that municipalities, permitting authorities, WQS authorities, 
and the public engage in a comprehensive and coordinative effort to 
achieve cost-effective CSO controls that ultimately meet appropriate 
health and environmental objectives.'' The policy assigns primary 
responsibility for implementation and enforcement to NPDES permitting 
authorities and WQS authorities.
    The policy also established objectives for CSO communities to: 1) 
Implement the Nine Minimum Controls and submit documentation on their 
implementation; and 2) Develop and implement a long-term CSO control 
plan (LTCP) to ultimately result in compliance with the Clean Water 
Act, including water quality-based requirements. In describing NPDES 
permit requirements for CSO discharges, the CSO Control Policy states 
that the BAT/BCT technology-based effluent limitations ``at a minimum 
include[s] the nine minimum controls.'' 59 FR 18696. One of the nine 
minimum controls is ``Public notification to ensure that the public 
receives adequate notification of CSO occurrences and CSO impacts.'' At 
a minimum, the technology based effluent limitations applicable to CSOs 
include the nine minimum controls.

Wet Weather Water Quality Act

    In December 2000, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 
for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554), Congress amended the Clean 
Water Act by adding Section 402(q). This amendment is commonly referred 
to as the ``Wet Weather Water Quality Act of 2000.'' It requires that 
each permit, order, or decree issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act 
after the date of enactment for a discharge from a municipal combined 
sewer system shall conform to the CSO Control Policy.

[[Page 50436]]

Developing New Requirements for Public Notice of CSO Events in the 
Great Lakes Basin

    Section 425 requires EPA to work with the Great Lakes states to 
create public notice requirements for combined sewer overflow 
discharges to the Great Lakes. Section 425(b)(2) provides that the 
notice requirements are to address the method of the notice, the 
contents of the notice, and requirements for public availability of the 
notice. Section 425(b)(3)(A) provides that at a minimum, the contents 
of the notice are to include the dates and times of the applicable 
discharge; the volume of the discharge; and a description of any public 
access areas impacted by the discharge. Section 425(b)(3)(B) provides 
that the minimum content requirements are to be consistent for all 
affected States.
    Section 425(b)(4)(A) calls for follow-up notice requirements that 
provide a description of each applicable discharge; the cause of the 
discharge; and plans to prevent a reoccurrence of a combined sewer 
overflow discharge to the Great Lakes consistent with section 402 of 
the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342) or an 
administrative order or consent decree under such Act. Section 
425(b)(4)(B) provides for annual publication requirements that list 
each treatment works from which the Administrator or the affected State 
receive a follow-up notice.
    Section 425(b)(5) requires that the notice and publication 
requirements described in Section 425 shall be implemented by not later 
than December 18, 2017. However, the Administrator of the EPA may 
extend the implementation deadline for individual communities if the 
Administrator determines the community needs additional time to comply 
in order to avoid undue economic hardship. Finally, Section 425(b)(6) 
clarifies that ``Nothing in this subsection prohibits an affected State 
from establishing a State notice requirement in the event of a 
discharge that is more stringent than the requirements described in 
this subsection.''
    EPA is working with the Great Lakes States to identify and evaluate 
options for implementing Section 425. EPA has also met with various 
stakeholder groups that represent municipalities, industry 
practitioners, and environmental organizations to hear each of their 
perspectives. EPA will continue to meet with interested stakeholder 
groups throughout the rulemaking process. In addition, the public 
``listening session'' on September 14, 2016 will provide stakeholders 
and other members of the public with an opportunity to share their 
views regarding potential new public notification requirements for CSOs 
in the Great Lakes Basin.

III. Input on Public Notice Considerations

    EPA and the Great Lake States will consider several options for 
creating public notice requirements for CSOs in the Great Lakes Basin 
under Section 425. In general, EPA and the Great Lake States are 
requesting comment on public notice requirements that provide for:
     Immediate notice of CSO discharge events to local public 
health officials and drinking water facilities. This notice is intended 
to alert public health officials and drinking water facilities to 
specific CSO discharges and support the development of appropriate 
responses to the discharges.
     Immediate notice of CSO discharge events to the public via 
text alerts, Web site notice, or other appropriate means. This notice 
is intended to alert the public to CSO discharges which may allow them 
to take steps to reduce their potential exposure to pathogens 
associated with the discharges.
     Immediate notice of CSO discharge events to the NPDES 
permitting authority. NPDES permits establish requirements to report 
CSO discharges to the NPDES authority. 40 CFR 122.41(l)(6) provides 
minimum requirements to report certain CSO discharges to the NPDES 
authority within 24 hours.
     Annual CSO notice. The annual CSO notice is intended to 
provide the public with a description of the current performance of 
their system as well as progress being made to reduce CSOs.
    EPA solicits information from the public regarding any aspect of 
Section 425 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, including:
    (1) What means of receiving immediate notice of CSO discharge 
events is most helpful to the public?
    (2) What should ``immediate'' mean in this context? How soon after 
a CSO discharge event commences should the public and local public 
health agencies be given notice?
    (3) What type of information would be most appropriate for 
immediate notices? In addition to the statutorily required elements of 
(i) the dates and times of the applicable discharge; (ii) the volume of 
the discharge; and (iii) a description of any public access areas 
impacted by the discharge; what other pieces of information would be 
beneficial for the public, local public health agencies, public 
drinking water providers, etc. to receive as part of the public notice?
    (4) What role should local public health agencies have in 
identifying immediate notification requirements?
    (5) How should annual notices be made available to the public?
    (6) What information should be included in annual notices and who 
should prepare the annual notices?
    (7) Do EPA's requirements to notify NPDES permitting authorities 
under 40 CFR 122.41(l)(4), (6) and (7) have a role in the new public 
notice requirements?
    (8) What regulatory framework is most appropriate for immediate 
notification requirements? For annual notices?
    In addition to participation in the meeting, members of the public 
may share input through written comments to the public docket (see 

    Dated: July 26, 2016.
Andrew D. Sawyers,
Director, Office of Wastewater Management.
[FR Doc. 2016-18133 Filed 7-29-16; 8:45 am]