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Water Quality | Notice of Public Hearing on Proposed Adoption of Rules Implementing Temporary Water Quality Standards Variances | Comment Period Ends August 22, 2022

  • 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:

Comment Period Ends:  August 22, 2022

You are invited to submit data, views, or arguments, either orally or in writing, at the hearing. Written data, views, or arguments may also be submitted to:

Loryn Johnson, Paralegal
Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 200901
Helena, Montana 59620-0901

Faxed to (406) 444-4386 or emailed to: no later than 5:00 p.m., August 22, 2022. To be guaranteed consideration, mailed comments must be postmarked on or before that date.

Public Meeting Information:

  • When:  August 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Where:  The hybrid meeting will have both an online and in-person option.
    • The in-person meeting will be held in room 111 of the Metcalf Building, 1520 East Sixth Ave., Helena, Montana. 

    • To access the online option or phone option, plesse click the link below to join the webinar:

        Passcode: 684346

        Or One tap mobile :

        US: +12133388477,,88417327091#,,,,*684346#  or +12063379723,,88417327091#,,,,*684346#

        Or Telephone:

            Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

                US: +1 213 338 8477  or +1 206 337 9723  or +1 646 558 8656

        Webinar ID: 884 1732 7091

        Passcode: 684346

            International numbers available: 

        Or an H.323/SIP room system:

            H.323: (US West) or (US East)

            Meeting ID: 884 1732 7091

            Passcode: 684346


            Passcode: 684346


Tags: MEPA, Public Comment, Water and Public Meeting

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