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SENATE BILL NO. 499
INTRODUCED BY L. GROSFIELD, C. SWYSGOOD
AN ACT AMENDING THE WATER QUALITY ACT TO ENSURE CONSISTENCY WITH FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS; AMENDING NONDEGRADATION SIGNIFICANCE CRITERIA; REVISING ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH SHORT-TERM EXEMPTIONS FROM WATER QUALITY STANDARDS MAY BE AUTHORIZED; AMENDING NONDEGRADATION REQUIREMENTS FOR OUTSTANDING RESOURCE WATERS; PROVIDING FOR SHORT-TERM TURBIDITY STANDARDS; AMENDING SECTIONS 75-5-301, 75-5-308, 75-5-316, 75-5-317, AND 75-5-401, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 75-5-301, MCA, is amended to read:
"75-5-301. Classification and standards for state waters. Consistent with the provisions of 80-15-201 and this chapter, the board shall:
(1) establish the classification of all state waters in accordance with their present and future most beneficial uses, creating an appropriate classification for streams that, due to sporadic flow, do not support an aquatic ecosystem that includes salmonid or nonsalmonid fish;
(2) (a) formulate and adopt standards of water quality, giving consideration to the economics of waste treatment and prevention. When rules are adopted regarding temporary standards, they must conform with the requirements of 75-5-312.
(b) Standards adopted by the board must meet the following requirements:
(i) for carcinogens, the water quality standard for protection of human health must be the value associated with an excess lifetime cancer risk level, assuming continuous lifetime exposure, not to exceed 1 x 10-3 in the case of arsenic and 1 x 10-5 for other carcinogens. However, if a standard established at a risk level of 1 x 10-3 for arsenic or 1 x 10-5 for other carcinogens violates the maximum contaminant level obtained from 40 CFR, part 141, then the maximum contaminant level must be adopted as the standard for that carcinogen.
(ii) standards for the protection of aquatic life do not apply to ground water.
(3) review, from time to time at intervals of not more than 3 years and, to the extent permitted by this chapter, revise established classifications of waters and adopted standards of water quality;
(4) adopt rules governing the granting of mixing zones, requiring that mixing zones granted by the department be specifically identified and requiring that mixing zones have:
(a) the smallest practicable size;
(b) a minimum practicable effect on water uses; and
(c) definable boundaries;
(5) adopt rules implementing the nondegradation policy established in 75-5-303, including but not limited to rules that:
(a) provide a procedure for department review and authorization of degradation;
(b) establish criteria for the following:
(i) determining important economic or social development; and
(ii) weighing the social and economic importance to the public of allowing the proposed project against the cost to society associated with a loss of water quality;
(c) establish criteria for determining whether a proposed activity or class of activities, in addition to those activities identified in 75-5-317, will result in nonsignificant changes in water quality for any parameter in order that those activities are not required to undergo review under 75-5-303(3). These criteria must be established in a manner that generally:
(i) equates significance with the potential for harm to human health, a beneficial use, or the environment;
(ii) considers both the quantity and the strength of the pollutant;
(iii) considers the length of time the degradation will occur;
(iv) considers the character of the pollutant so that greater significance is associated with carcinogens and toxins that bioaccumulate or biomagnify and lesser significance is associated with substances that are less harmful or less persistent.
(d) provide that changes of nitrate as nitrogen in ground water are nonsignificant if the discharge will not cause degradation of surface water and the predicted concentration of nitrate as nitrogen at the boundary of the ground water mixing zone does not exceed:
(i) 7.5 milligrams per liter for nitrate as nitrogen sources other than domestic sewage;
(ii) 5.0 milligrams per liter for domestic sewage effluent discharged from a conventional septic system;
(iii) 7.5 milligrams per liter for domestic sewage effluent discharged from a septic system using level two treatment, which must be defined in the rules; or
(iv) 7.5 milligrams per liter for domestic sewage effluent discharged from a conventional septic system in areas where the ground water nitrate as nitrogen level exceeds 5.0 milligrams per liter primarily from sources other than human waste.
(6) to the extent practicable, ensure that the rules adopted under subsection (5) establish objective and quantifiable criteria for various parameters. These criteria must, to the extent practicable, constitute guidelines for granting or denying applications for authorization to degrade high-quality waters under the policy established in 75-5-303(2) and (3).
(7) adopt rules to implement this section."
Section 2. Section 75-5-308, MCA, is amended to read:
"75-5-308. Short-term water authorizations -- water quality standards. (1) Because these activities promote the
public interest, the
The department may, if necessary, authorize short-term exemptions from the water quality standards or
short-term use that exceeds the water quality standards for the purposes of allowing construction, for the following
environmental remediation , activities that have been approved, authorized, or required by the department;
pesticide application , of a pesticide that is registered by the United States environmental protection agency pursuant
to 7 U.S.C. 136(a) when it is used to control nuisance aquatic organisms or to eliminate elimination of undesirable and
nonnative aquatic species , and treatment of water for the protection of public health.
The An authorization must include conditions that minimize, to the extent possible practicable, the magnitude of any
standard violation change in the concentration of the parameters affected by the activity and the length of time during which
any standard violation change may occur. The authorization must also include conditions that prevent significant risk to
public health and that ensure that existing and designated uses of state water are protected and maintained upon completion
of the activity must maximize the protection of state waters by ensuring the maintenance of beneficial uses immediately
after the term of the authorization. Authorizations issued under this section may include conditions that require water
quality or quantity monitoring and reporting. In the performance of its responsibilities under this section, the department
may negotiate operating agreements with other departments of state government that are intended to minimize duplication
in review of activities eligible for authorizations under this section.
(3) An authorization to use a pesticide does not relieve a person from the duty to comply with Title 80, chapters 8 and 15. The department may not authorize an exemption from water quality standards for an activity that requires a discharge permit under rules adopted by the board pursuant to 75-5-401."
Section 3. Section 75-5-316, MCA, is amended to read:
"75-5-316. Outstanding resource water classification -- rules -- criteria -- limitations -- procedure. (1) As provided
under the provisions of 75-5-301 and this section, the board may adopt rules regarding the classification of waters as
outstanding resource waters.
Neither this section nor rules adopted pursuant to this section apply to an activity that is
identified as nonsignificant under 75-5-301(5)(c) and that is exempted from nondegradation review required under
(2) The department may not:
(a) grant an authorization to degrade under 75-5-303 in outstanding resource waters; or
grant an authorization to degrade if that authorization would cause significant degradation, as defined by board rules
adopted under 75-5-301(5), in outstanding resource waters allow a new or increased point source discharge that would
result in a permanent change in the water quality of an outstanding resource water.
(3) (a) A person may petition the board for rulemaking to classify waters as outstanding resource waters. The board shall initially review a petition against the criteria identified in subsection (3)(c) to determine whether the petition contains sufficient credible information for the board to accept the petition.
(b) The board may reject a petition without further review if it determines that the petition does not contain the sufficient credible information required by subsection (3)(a). If the board rejects a petition under this subsection (3)(b), it shall specify in writing the reasons for the rejection and the petition's deficiencies.
(c) The board may not adopt a rule classifying state waters as outstanding resource waters until it accepts a petition and finds that, based on a preponderance of the evidence:
(i) the waters identified in the petition constitute an outstanding resource based on the criteria provided in subsection (4);
(ii) the classification is necessary to protect the outstanding resource identified under subsection (3)(a); and
(iii) there is no other effective process available that will achieve the necessary protection.
(4) The board shall consider the following criteria in determining whether certain state waters are outstanding resource waters. However, the board may determine that compliance with one or more of these criteria is insufficient to warrant classification of the water as an outstanding resource water. The board shall consider:
(a) whether the waters have been designated as wild and scenic;
(b) the presence of endangered or threatened species in the waters;
(c) the presence of an outstanding recreational fishery in the waters;
(d) whether the waters provide the only source of suitable water for a municipality or industry;
(e) whether the waters provide the only source of suitable water for domestic water supply; and
(f) other factors that indicate outstanding environmental or economic values not specifically mentioned in this subsection (4).
(5) After acceptance of a petition, the board shall require the preparation of an environmental impact statement, as provided under Title 75, chapter 1, part 2, when classification as an outstanding resource water may cause significant adverse impacts to the environment, including significant adverse impacts to social or economic values.
(6) The board shall consult with other relevant state agencies when reviewing outstanding resource water classification petitions.
(7) (a) In accordance with 2-4-315, the board may deny an accepted outstanding resource water classification petition if it finds that:
(i) the requirements of subsection (3) have not been met; or
(ii) based on information available to the board from the environmental impact statement or otherwise, approving the outstanding resource waters classification petition would cause significant adverse environmental, social, or economic impacts.
(b) If the board denies the petition, it shall identify its reasons for petition denial.
(8) A rule classifying state waters as outstanding resource waters under this section may be adopted but is not effective until approved by the legislature.
(9) The board may not postpone or deny an application for an authorization to degrade state waters under 75-5-303 based on pending:
(a) board action on an outstanding resource water classification petition regarding those waters; or
(b) legislative approval of board action designating those waters as outstanding resource waters."
Section 4. Section 75-5-317, MCA, is amended to read:
"75-5-317. Nonsignificant activities. (1) The categories or classes of activities identified in subsection (2) cause changes in water quality that are nonsignificant because of their low potential for harm to human health or the environment and their conformance with the guidance found in 75-5-301(5)(c).
(2) The following categories or classes of activities are not subject to the provisions of 75-5-303:
(a) existing activities that are nonpoint sources of pollution as of April 29, 1993;
(b) activities that are nonpoint sources of pollution initiated after April 29, 1993, when reasonable land, soil, and water conservation practices are applied and existing and anticipated beneficial uses will be fully protected;
(c) use of agricultural chemicals in accordance with a specific agricultural chemical ground water management plan promulgated under 80-15-212, if applicable, or in accordance with an environmental protection agency-approved label and when existing and anticipated uses will be fully protected;
(d) changes in existing water quality resulting from an emergency or remedial activity that is designed to protect public health or the environment and is approved, authorized, or required by the department;
(e) changes in existing ground water quality resulting from treatment of a public water supply system, as defined in 75-6-102, or a public sewage system, as defined in 75-6-102, by chlorination or other similar means that is designed to protect the public health or the environment and that is approved, authorized, or required by the department;
(f) the use of drilling fluids, sealants, additives, disinfectants, and rehabilitation chemicals in water well or monitoring well drilling, development, or abandonment, if used according to department-approved water quality protection practices and if no discharge to surface water will occur;
(g) short-term changes in existing water quality resulting from activities authorized by the department pursuant to 75-5-308;
(h) land application of animal waste, domestic septage, or waste from public sewage treatment systems containing nutrients when the wastes are applied to the land in a beneficial manner, application rates are based on agronomic uptake of applied nutrients, and other parameters will not cause degradation;
(i) incidental leakage of water from a public water supply system, as defined in 75-6-102, or from a public sewage system, as defined in 75-6-102, utilizing best practicable control technology designed and constructed in accordance with Title 75, chapter 6;
(j) discharges of water to ground water from water well or monitoring well tests, hydrostatic pressure and leakage tests, or wastewater from the disinfection or flushing of water mains and storage reservoirs, conducted in accordance with department-approved water quality protection practices;
(k) oil and gas drilling, production, abandonment, plugging, and restoration activities that do not result in discharges to surface water and that are performed in accordance with Title 82, chapter 10, or Title 82, chapter 11;
(l) short-term changes in existing water quality resulting from ordinary and everyday activities of humans or domesticated animals, including but not limited to:
(i) such recreational activities as boating, hiking, hunting, fishing, wading, swimming, and camping;
(ii) fording of streams or other bodies of water by vehicular or other means; and
(iii) drinking from or fording of streams or other bodies of water by livestock and other domesticated animals;
(m) coal and uranium prospecting that does not result in a discharge to surface water, that does not involve a test pit located in surface water or that may affect surface water, and that is performed in accordance with Title 82, chapter 4;
(n) solid waste management systems, motor vehicle wrecking facilities, and county motor vehicle graveyards licensed and operating in accordance with Title 75, chapter 10, part 2, or Title 75, chapter 10, part 5;
(o) hazardous waste management facilities permitted and operated in accordance with Title 75, chapter 10, part 4;
(p) metallic and nonmetallic mineral exploration that does not result in a discharge to surface water and that is permitted under and performed in accordance with Title 82, chapter 4, parts 3 and 4;
nonpoint sources of pollution that cause short-term changes in existing water quality resulting from: (i) activities authorized under Title 75, chapter 7, part 1; or (ii) customary activities involving the use of water established by an existing water right or permit recognized under
Montana law stream-related construction projects or stream enhancement projects that result in temporary changes to water
quality but do not result in long-term detrimental effects and that have been authorized pursuant to [section 5];
(r) diversions or withdrawals of water established and recognized under Title 85, chapter 2;
(r)(s) the maintenance, repair, or replacement of dams, diversions, weirs, or other constructed works that are related to
existing water rights and that are within wilderness areas so long as existing and anticipated beneficial uses are protected
and as long as the changes in existing water quality relative to the project are short term; and (s)(t) any other activity that is nonsignificant because of its low potential for harm to human health or to the
environment and its conformance with the guidance found in 75-5-301(5)(c)."
Section 5. Short-term water quality standards for turbidity. (1) Upon authorization by the department or the department of fish, wildlife, and parks pursuant to subsection (4), the short-term water quality standards for total suspended sediment and turbidity resulting from stream-related construction activities or stream enhancement projects are the narrative standards for total suspended sediment adopted by the board under 75-5-301. If a short-term narrative standard is authorized under this section, the numeric standard for turbidity adopted by the board under 75-5-301 does not apply to the affected water body during the term of the narrative standard.
(2) The department shall review each application for short-term standards on a case-by-case basis to determine whether there are reasonable alternatives that preclude the need for a narrative standard. If the department determines that the numeric standard for turbidity adopted by the board under 75-5-301 cannot be achieved during the term of the activity and that there are no reasonable alternatives to achieve the numeric standard, the department may authorize the use of a narrative standard for a specified term.
(3) Each authorization issued by the department must include conditions that minimize, to the extent practicable, the magnitude of any change in water quality and the length of time during which any change may occur. The authorization must also include site-specific conditions that ensure that the activity is not harmful, detrimental, or injurious to public health and the uses of state waters and that ensure that existing and designated beneficial uses of state water are protected and maintained upon completion of the activity. The department may not authorize short-term narrative standards for activities requiring a discharge permit under rules adopted by the board pursuant to 75-5-401. Authorizations issued under this section may include conditions that require water quality or quantity monitoring and reporting.
(4) In the performance of its responsibilities under this section, the department may negotiate operating agreements with other departments of state government that are intended to minimize duplication in review of activities eligible for authorizations under this section. The department of fish, wildlife, and parks may, in accordance with subsections (1), (2), and (3), authorize short-term water quality standards for total suspended sediment and turbidity for any stream construction project that it reviews under Title 75, chapter 7, part 1, or Title 87, chapter 5, part 5.
Section 6. Section 75-5-401, MCA, is amended to read:
"75-5-401. Board rules for permits
-- ground water exclusions -- ground water exclusions. (1) Except as provided
in subsection (5), the board shall adopt rules:
(a) governing application for permits to discharge sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes into state surface waters and ground waters, including rules requiring the filing of plans and specifications relating to the construction, modification, or operation of disposal systems;
(b) governing the issuance, denial, modification, or revocation of permits. The board may not require a permit for a
water conveyance structure or for a natural spring if the water discharged to state waters does not contain industrial waste,
sewage, or other wastes.
Discharge to surface water of ground water that is not altered from its ambient quality does not
constitute a discharge requiring a permit under this part and is not degradation if: (i) the discharge does not contain industrial waste, sewage, or other wastes; (ii) the water discharged does not cause the receiving waters to exceed applicable standards for any parameters; and (iii) to the extent that the receiving waters in their ambient state exceed standards for any parameters, the discharge does
not increase the concentration of the parameters. Discharge to surface water of ground water that is not altered from its
ambient quality does not constitute a discharge requiring a permit under this part if:
(i) the discharge does not contain industrial waste, sewage, or other wastes;
(ii) the water discharged does not cause the receiving waters to exceed applicable standards for any parameters; and
(iii) to the extent that the receiving waters in their ambient state exceed standards for any parameters, the discharge does not increase the concentration of the parameters.
(2) The rules must allow the issuance or continuance of a permit only if the department finds that operation consistent with the limitations of the permit will not result in pollution of any state waters, except that the rules may allow the issuance of a temporary permit under which pollution may result if the department ensures that the permit contains a compliance schedule designed to meet all applicable effluent standards and water quality standards in the shortest reasonable period of time.
(3) The rules must provide that the department may revoke a permit if the department finds that the holder of the permit has violated its terms, unless the department also finds that the violation was accidental and unforeseeable and that the holder of the permit corrected the condition resulting in the violation as soon as was reasonably possible.
(4) The board may adopt rules governing reclamation of sites disturbed by construction, modification, or operation of permitted activities for which a bond is voluntarily filed by a permittee pursuant to 75-5-405, including rules for the establishment of criteria and procedures governing release of the bond or other surety and release of portions of a bond or other surety.
(5) Discharges of sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes into state ground waters from the following activities or operations are not subject to the ground water permit requirements adopted under subsections (1) through (4):
(a) discharges or activities at wells injecting fluids associated with oil and gas exploration and production regulated under the federal underground injection control program;
(b) disposal by solid waste management systems licensed pursuant to 75-10-221;
(c) individuals disposing of their own normal household wastes on their own property;
(d) hazardous waste management facilities permitted pursuant to 75-10-406;
(e) water injection wells, reserve pits, and produced water pits used in oil and gas field operations and approved pursuant to Title 82, chapter 11;
(f) agricultural irrigation facilities;
(g) storm water disposal or storm water detention facilities;
(h) subsurface disposal systems for sanitary wastes serving individual residences;
(i) in situ mining of uranium facilities controlled under Title 82, chapter 4, part 2;
(j) mining operations subject to operating permits or exploration licenses in compliance with The Strip and Underground Mine Reclamation Act, Title 82, chapter 4, part 2, or the metal mine reclamation laws, Title 82, chapter 4, part 3; or
(k) projects reviewed under the provisions of the Montana Major Facility Siting Act, Title 75, chapter 20.
(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of 75-5-301(4), mixing zones for activities excluded from permit requirements under subsection (5) of this section must be established by the permitting agency for those activities in accordance with 75-5-301(4)(a) through (4)(c).
(7) Notwithstanding the exclusions set forth in subsection (5), any excluded source that the department determines may be causing or is likely to cause violations of ground water quality standards may be required to submit monitoring information pursuant to 75-5-602.
(8) The board may adopt rules identifying other activities or operations from which a discharge of sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes into state ground waters is not subject to the ground water permit requirements adopted under subsections (1) through (4)."
Section 7. Codification instruction. [Section 5] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 75, chapter 5, part 3, and the provisions of Title 75, chapter 5, part 3, apply to [section 5].
Section 8. Saving clause. (1) [This act] does not affect a right to conduct a construction activity in accordance with a short-term exemption granted pursuant to 75-5-308 before [the effective date of this act].
(2) A discharge from a facility or source that discharged to surface water prior to [the effective date of this act] and that was exempt from 75-5-303 pursuant to 75-5-317(2)(e), (2)(k), or (2)(p) or 75-5-401(1)(b) as those sections read prior to [the effective date of this act] continues to be exempt from 75-5-303 as long as the facility or source has not since [the effective date of this act] been expanded in a manner that increases the volume of discharge or the concentration or nature of pollutants in the discharge.
Section 9. Severability. If a part of [this act] is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of [this act] is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.
Section 10. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
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