DeKalb County, GA, June 1, 2017 – by Renee Turner for The Post – In November of 2016, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) declared a Level II drought in fifty-two Georgia counties, including DeKalb County that serves 700,000+ residents. According to County figures, some 85-million gallons of safe drinking water is distributed per day throughout DeKalb.
Factoring in the drought and concerns over maintaining a quality sanitary sewer system and healthy environment, DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) must be in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act, the Georgia Water Quality Control Act, and the federally-mandated Consent Decree between the County, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPD. This compliance impacts a number of industries within the county, resulting in requiring some businesses to submit industrial wastewater discharge permit applications.
A new regulatory oversight division was created in 2016 by DWM called the Regulatory Compliance Division (RCD). RCD implemented the Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP) designed to prevent industries from releasing pollutants through the pipes, drains and sewers. The IPP is one program in place to guard against pollutants ending up in rivers, lakes and creeks, including metro-Atlanta’s source for drinking water, Lake Lanier that is fed by the Chattahoochee River.
While water restrictions are in place and widely publicized, the IPP is not widely known to the public.
Sandra L. Glenn, Assistant Director of the RCD and IPP Program Coordinator Bernard Bethea explained at an IPP Stakeholders Workshop held last week, that DeKalb County is obligated as a condition of its permit compliance to regulate potentially-impactful industries. What the program does is to seek regulation compliance for local industries that have indirect discharges to publicly owned treatment works.
Open to the public and regulated industries within the IPP, the speakers along with compliance inspectors presented to stakeholders requirements for both DeKalb County and IPP stakeholders, the permitting process, policies and procedures, self-monitoring reports, and enhancements and improvements to the program itself.
The stakeholders workshop provided an overview of the IPP to businesses operating in areas that are permitted and monitored by the IPP. “Certain parts of the county, we have sewer issues and certain parts we have grease issues,” Glenn explained. She said one example of what the IPP covers is restaurant grease. Another example is what cleaning products are used in other businesses.
A list of over 70 industrial categories regulated by the IPP includes laboratories, dairy product processing, textile mills, fertilizer manufacturing, meat and poultry products, oil and gas extraction, electrical and electronic components. Posted at the workshop was a list of some of the diverse industry stakeholder companies such as:
- International Paper
- Chevron Texaco
- Inland Seafood
- Seminole Landfill
- United Parcel Service
- Trojan Battery
- Griffith Labs
- GA Pacific
DeKalb County (and the IPP) must regulate categorical industrial users and significant industrial users in order to mitigate or eliminate environmental hazards or damages, and is required to:
- Create/implement a program
- Conduct inspections and take samples
- Require self-monitoring reports
- Maintain compliance monitoring database
- Enforce requirements
- Develop, enforce and update local limits
- Report to EPD at least annually
The program has a permitting process that involves filling out a questionnaire, survey/inspection, submitting a permit application, application review, draft and final permit and a compliance schedule if additional pretreatment is involved or a change in operations and/or maintenance occurs.
Sampling, testing, and inspection is done by the IPP Compliance Inspectors who need to know every chemical on a particular businesses premises. During the inspection, the assigned inspector walks around the facility, collects samples and reviews records the businesses are required to keep (At least three years worth).
“Sampling will be unannounced,” Bethea told workshop attendees. “We like to use disposable equipment because it is just for your particular industry.” He also explained the different types of sampling equipment used – disposable versus re-usable. Unannounced inspectors check for overall process, housekeeping, containment areas, spill kits, records (e.g. waste manifest), sample and measurement devices. Inspectors check for current chemicals, corrective action, containment meeting requirements, and more. Accident reporting is also required.
If a business is found to be in violation, a “Notice of Violation” is issued as part of the enforcement process. To correct any noncompliance, the company/business must provide a corrective action plan, respond in 15 days, resulting in a required follow-up.
Failure to comply can result in:
- $1,000 per violation, per day fine
- Revocation/termination of permit
- Termination of water service if discharge continues
Improvements and enhancements are planned for the IPP and the County is working to identify works to include qualified industry sources for permitting through the program. One significant change within IPP involves rewriting the ordinance using EPA’s ordinance as a template, which will ultimately be approved by the EPA.