Wastewater Enforcement: Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment – Environmental Quality Division and City of Mountainburg Reach Administrative Consent Order | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, LLC

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The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment – Division of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) and the City of Mountainburg, Arkansas, (“Mountainburg”) on March 8 entered into an Administrative Order Agreement (“CAO”) regarding alleged violations of a clean water law. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit. See DSL No. 22-026.

The CAO provides that Mountainburg will operate a municipal wastewater treatment facility (“Facility”) in Crawford County, Arkansas.

The facility is supposed to discharge treated sewage into an unnamed tributary of Pigeon Creek that eventually empties into the Arkansas River. These releases are regulated under an NPDES permit.

The DEQ reportedly sent Mountainburg a Corrective Action Plan (“CAP”) request on October 25, 2019 to address repeated effluent violations. A schedule of milestones and an end date for compliance were requested.

Mountainburg submitted a CAP which DEQ subsequently approved on December 13, 2019, with the following stipulations:

  • Specify what process control measures were taken as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) webinar;
  • Provide a description of the type of test equipment purchased and its purpose; and
  • Submit the proposed plan for the addition of two (2) valves in the sewage basin.

The additional information requested by DEQ was provided on January 16, 2020.

DEQ sent a letter to Mountainburg on February 11, 2020 deeming the additional information adequate with the following comments:

  • Please note that under [Rule] 6.202(A), “Any person wishing to construct, operate, or modify a disposal system that will discharge into State waters…must apply for a permit for such activity. »
  • Please submit quarterly reports detailing respondent’s progress towards achieving final compliance with permit limits. The first quarterly report is due April 10, 2020.
  • The Circuit Rider site visit is scheduled for February 24, 2020.

DEQ conducted a compliance assessment inspection of the facility on February 24, 2020, which included a review of available records and an assessment of the existing processing facility. The inspection report reportedly noted that Mountainburg was participating in an EPA circuit driver assistance program and that PG Environmental was helping the city develop a compliance plan.

Mountainburg submitted a progress report on March 20, 2020, indicating that it was expecting to receive a compliance plan from the EPA Circuit Rider site visit on February 24, 2020. The EPA submitted a first draft of a compliance plan on April 22 and progress reports have been submitted by Mountainburg at later dates.

PG Environmental submitted a Final Recommendations Report on August 5, 2020, which addressed several areas of concern related to excessive inflow and seepage and the repairs that needed to be made to the facility.

The DEQ reportedly conducted a review of Certified Release Monitoring Reports (“CMRs”) on September 22, 2021. The alleged violations identified included:

  1. Fifty-one (51) ammonia nitrogen violations;
  2. Eight (8) total suspended solids violations;
  3. Two (2) Dissolved Oxygen violations; and
  4. One (1) violation of carbon biochemical oxygen demand.

Further, review of the DMRs would have indicated that Mountainburg had not submitted non-compliance reports for the following monitoring periods:

  • January 2021;
  • March 2021;
  • July 2021; and
  • August 2021

A review of sanitary sewer overflows (“SSOs”) was conducted by DEQ for the period of January 21, 2020 to June 30, 2021. This review would have indicated that Mountainburg reported two SSOs.

The CAO requires that within 30 days of the document’s effective date, Mountainburg submit to the DEQ for review and approval a comprehensive CAP developed by an Arkansas professional engineer that must include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Methods and best available technology that will be used to correct the violations listed in the factual findings, paragraph 21
  • Methods and best available technologies to prevent future breaches
  • A reasonable timeline and deadline for compliance

Upon review and approval by DEQ, Mountainburg is bound to comply with the Terms, Schedule of Milestones and Final Compliance Date which will be fully enforceable as part of the CAO.

On or before the effective date of the CAO, Mountainburg is required to submit the previously referenced necessary nonconformance reports for the specified monitoring periods.

Quarterly reports are required detailing progress towards compliance.

Within 90 calendar days of the effective date of the CAO, Mountainburg is required to submit to the DEQ for review and approval a comprehensive Sanitary Sewer Flow Monitoring and Infiltration and Inflow Study (“Study”) ) developed by a professional engineer from Arkansas. The study must include, at a minimum:

  • Baseline for Sanitary Sewer Flows
  • Rainfall monitoring
  • Estimated available sewer capacity
  • Identifying I/I Sources
  • An estimate of I/I
  • Plan and schedule to reduce I/I with a compliance deadline

The study should detail the methods and best available technology that will be used to correct the I/I violations listed in the factual findings in paragraph 24 and prevent future violations. Upon review and approval, Mountainburg is required to comply with the Terms, Schedule of Milestones and Final Compliance Date which will form part of the CAO.

The CAO imposes a civil penalty of $2,800 which is conditionally suspended if Mountainburg fully complies with the CAO.

A copy of the CAD can be downloaded here.