Facilities with a permitted outfall that discharges into a waterbody with water quality attainment challenges could be impacted by a recently proposed rule from Ohio EPA (OEPA). OEPA is proposing to revise the existing biocriteria rules by making it easier to modify point source effluent limits upstream of waterbodies that are not attaining biocriteria.

Currently, if point sources are in compliance with all effluent limits (both specific chemicals and whole effluent), then OEPA carries the burden of showing that point sources are the primary cause for the non-attainment of biological criteria. Under the proposed rule, that burden is lowered to only require that the point source is contributing to the non-attainment of biological criteria. With the revised language, it could be substantially easier for OEPA to lower or tighten effluent limits for upstream point sources. Under the proposed rule, therefore, point sources discharging to waterbodies that are not attaining biocriteria could be exposed to heightened regulatory controls.

The draft rules, along with other supporting documents, are available at https://epa.ohio.gov/dsw/dswrules#1353910795-draft-biocriteria-rules-oac-chapters-3745-1-and-3745-2.  Interested parties have until July 19, 2021 to submit comments on these draft rules. Please contact Kristin Watt, Mark Norman, or Nat Morse with any questions about these proposed rules.