Metals: You might need a Strategy for that too!

You’re hearing a lot of talk about Iowa’s Nutrient Strategy. If you haven’t already, you could receive your new NPDES permit in the coming months.  It may contain requirements for dealing with nutrients and many other things, not the least of which is metals.

NPDES permits now incorporate stringent water quality standards for setting effluent limits on metals, meaning that your facility may have limits that you will not be able to comply with. Copper is the most common problem that cities are experiencing, but there are other metals that can also be a compliance problem in the effluent.

We can help.

It is important to review the draft permit and compare any proposed metal limits to your effluent quality.  If there is any chance of a compliance problem, it is critical that you request that the IDNR permit writer revise the draft permit to incorporate a compliance schedule into your final permit.  IDNR staff will generally give a city slightly less than five years to be in compliance with a final permit limit for a metal if there is a perceived problem.

Within six months of receiving your final NPDES permit, you will be required to submit a strategy to achieve compliance with the new metal limits or provide documentation to justify higher limits. There are several approaches that have been successfully utilized to have the limits revised, including extensive hardness testing and stream mixing zone studies.

For copper, there is a method pending state rule making (Biotic Ligand Model, BLM) that will allow cities to provide site specific data that better documents the aquatic toxicity of copper and generally provides a higher limit than the current method.

Winnie Gleason, P.E., brought this method to IDNR for consideration in 2009, based on a client’s specific needs.

FOX Engineering serves as a resource for treatment staff at many communities receiving their NPDES permits.  Among them, Atlantic, Boone, Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Cherokee, Greenfield, Independence, Iowa Falls, Jefferson, New Hampton, Newton, Manchester, Oelwein, Ogden, Red Oak, and Story City.

As soon as you know your permit is imminent, contact us.  The earlier we are involved, the more likely it is that we can be helpful in guiding you through the process and shaping the outcome.

FOX Engineering is an environmental engineering firm based in Ames, Iowa. We specialize in water and wastewater solutions for our diverse municipal and industrial clients. Our work varies in size and scope and can be found throughout the Midwest and beyond.