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Proposed Rule Change: 30 TAC 312, Sewage Sludge

Proposed Title 30, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 312 Rule Language

Biosolids Rule Making

Background - Biosolids Petition:

On May 13, 2013, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) received a petition from Mr. Cole Turner, on behalf of the landowners and citizens of Ellis County. The petitioner requested that TCEQ amend 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 312, Sludge Use, Disposal, and Transportation, in order to prohibit the land application of sewage sludge in, or within, three miles of a city limit in a county with a population of 140,000 or more that is located adjacent to a county with a population between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000.

On June 18, 2013, the commission instructed the executive director (ED) to examine the issues raised in the petition and to initiate the rulemaking process by obtaining stakeholder input on the issues raised in the petition and other odor related concerns at bulk sewage sludge land application sites.

TCEQ Water Quality Division and Field Operations staff conducted site visits to various wastewater treatment plants, sewage sludge (biosolids) processing facilities and land application sites throughout the state. The objective was to evaluate different types of sewage sludge treatment processes and evaluate odors at several biosolids processing and land application sites. Additionally, four stakeholder meetings were held in Springtown, Midlothian, Brookshire and Austin, Texas. The comments received at the stakeholder meetings were taken into consideration during the development of the ED’s recommendation on the rule petition.

ED Recommendation to Commission:

At the November 20, 2013, Commissioners Agenda, the ED recommended a state-wide rulemaking approach rather than the three mile prohibition outlined in the petition. The Commissioners agreed with statewide rulemaking and instructed the ED to proceed with releasing draft rule language to stakeholders. Additionally, the Commission instructed the ED to consider the inclusion of performance based criteria to address odor.

Rule Concepts:

The ED’s concepts for rulemaking include:

    1. Separation of existing Class A sewage sludge into two categories, Class A and Class AA. The Class A category would consists of treatment processes to further reduce pathogens (PFRP) or EPA approved equivalent as defined within 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 503, Subpart D. The Class AA category would include treatment processes under pathogen alternatives 1 through 4 within 40 CFR Part 503, Subpart D.
    2. Clarification the ED's existing ability to include additional, more stringent requirements to any Class A, AA, or B sludge land application site.
    3. Inclusion of core requirements to be applicable to all bulk Class A, AA and B land application sites. Core requirements would include:
        a. Prohibit land application during rain events or on saturated soils. This is already a requirement for Class B land application.
        b. Require Best Management Practices to control tracking of material on roads.
        c. Clarify that nuisance condition provisions apply to all Class A, AA, and B application sites.
        d. Require the submittal of an Adverse Weather and Alternative Plan
    4. Inclusion of requirements at newly defined bulk Class AA land application sites, including:
        a. Post signage at application sites
        b. buffer zones to odor receptors
        c. Requirements for staging of biosolids away from odor receptors