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Water Quality | UPDATE: Temporary Water Quality Standards Variances Rule Hearing Transcript and Adoption Notice

  • July 08 2022

On June 3, 2022, DEQ initiated rulemaking on proposed NEW RULE I “Temporary Water Quality Standards Variances” which implements statute at 75-5-320, MCA.  The statute at 75-5-320, MCA, provides DEQ authority to adopt rules which describe criteria and procedures to issue temporary variances to water quality standards, under certain conditions.  NEW RULE I sets forth these criteria and procedures, as well as the applicable conditions.  The statute at 75-5-320, MCA, was adopted during the 2019 Regular Session of the Montana Legislature and provides the means for dischargers to qualify for water quality standards variances under state law and as provided in federal law at 40 CFR 131.14 (the federal regulation for water quality standards variances).  For purposes of consistency with federal law, NEW RULE I also adopts 40 CFR 131.14 by reference.

A water quality standards variance is a time-limited water quality standard for a specific pollutant(s) or water quality parameter(s) that reflects the highest attainable condition during the term of the variance. When a variance is approved, the goal remains full attainment of the underlying beneficial use and criterion from which the variance is sought, and all other applicable water quality standards not addressed by the water quality standards variance remain applicable.  NEW RULE I may be used to seek a temporary variance from a variety of different Montana water quality standards, both narrative and numeric. Under NEW RULE I, a variance may be granted for one of six factors referenced at 40 CFR 131.14(b)(2)(i)(A)(1).  These factors include human-caused sources of pollution that cannot be remedied (factor 3) and water pollution control measures that are of such stringency that they would cause substantial and widespread economic and social impact if they were to be met (factor 6).

Associated Materials:

UPDATE:  Rule Hearing Transcript and Adoption Notice 

Tags: MEPA, Water and Public Notice

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