Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New York State DEC nixes TMDL trading program

A spokesperson for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)  has given further clarity as to why the state rejected a trading program for total maximum daily loads (TMDL) for phosphorus.

A letter written by the DEC Regional Water Engineer Timothy DiGiulio was sent to the Village of Marcellus Mayor John Curtin on October 9. The letter was a response to Curtin’s request of more information on state’s cooperation in TMDL implementation. The letter stated that the data and monitoring needed for one does not exist.

When asked why the need for the trading program does not exist, Public Information Officer of the DEC Benning DeLaMater told EP News Wire, “While not referred to as a formal trading program, New York has shifted allocations between point sources in more than one TMDL. The DEC allows for such shifts between point sources, where point sources are generally pipe discharges of municipal and industrial wastewater under State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits that require sampling and analysis of the discharge to determine pollutant loads and enforceable limits on those loads. The department has offered to shift pollutant waste load allocations for several closed facilities to Marcellus."

In the current situation with the Village of Marcellus, however, shifting waste load allocations "would still not allow Marcellus to meet the TMDL waste load allocation without additional treatment," DeLaMater said. 

Marcellus is a city of 3,000 sewer users, which require updates to its Water Pollution Control Plant that would cost $5.5 million, according to Curtin.

“While they may appear on the surface to be beneficial, market-based water quality trading programs that include trading with agricultural operations require significant verification protocols that favor neither agricultural landowners nor point source dischargers," DeLaMater said. "Such programs also include significant management overhead."

The DEC continues to monitor options for market-based water quality trading programs, but such a program for New York has not been demonstrated to provide improved water quality or cost savings to dischargers. Nonetheless, the Department continues to review such programs with EPA to see if they could be a viable tool in the future, DeLaMater said. 

Organizations in this Story

New York Department of Environmental Conservation

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