Changes to Chesapeake Bay Discharge Monitoring Reporting for Compliance Year 2016

From the desk of Donald R. Hart, Jr., Project Manager

In 1976, Congress directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a five-year study of the environmental quality and management of the Chesapeake Bay. EPA concluded at the end of the study that its research had documented the serious impact of nutrients and toxic chemicals released from both point and nonpoint sources on the Bay’s water and sediment quality and on the vitality and abundance of its living resources.  In 1983, Pennsylvania joined with District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and EPA in signing a Chesapeake Bay Agreement providing for a comprehensive and coordinated Bay restoration. The states, localities and other interested groups worked toward restoring the quality of the Chesapeake Bay.  On May 12, 2009, an executive order was signed declaring the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure.  The executive order directed federal agencies to make restoration a greater priority and one of the key provisions was for EPA to use its Clean Water Act (CWA) authority to the maximum extent possible.  The states within the region were then required by EPA to prepare implementation plans to meet the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits that were established by EPA’s CWA rulemaking.  The TMDL calculates the maximum amount of a pollutant allowed to enter a waterbody, also known as the loading capacity, so that the waterbody will meet and continue to meet water quality standards for that particular pollutant. The TMDL allocates that load to point sources and nonpoint sources of the pollutant and acts as a “pollution diet” for the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay region.

As part of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP) activities to meet the state implementation plan, they issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The NPDES permits contain limits and/or monitoring requirements for various parameters.  Those self-monitoring results are submitted periodically to PADEP in the form of Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs).  NPDES permits frequently require additional information, i.e., supplemental reports, to be attached to DMRs.

Permittees that have been identified as owning and/or operating a facility that has Annual Net Mass Load limits (“cap loads”) in their NPDES permit to comply with the Chesapeake Bay TMDL are receiving letters about changes to the reporting procedures for the supplemental reports. PADEP states that they are seeking to streamline the reporting process for facilities that must report Annual Net Mass Loads for Total Nitrogen (TN) and Total Phosphorus (TP).  There are no changes to the DMR . This change only involves Supplemental Reports.  PADEP believes that this simplified supplemental reporting will reduce administrative effort on the permittee’s part and provide better quality data for DEP’s reporting to the EPA. In lieu of modifying the NPDES permit, PADEP is requesting  that permittees implement the new procedure pursuant to PADEP’s authority at 25 Pa. Code § 92a.61(g).

Most permits issued by PADEP to date have required the following reporting relating to TN and TP (“nutrients”):

  • Submission of monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) to report nutrient concentrations and Total Monthly nutrient loads;
  • Submission of the Nutrient Monitoring (3800-FM-BPNPSM0444), Monthly Nitrogen Budget (3800-FM-BPNPSM0445) and Monthly Phosphorus Budget (3800-FM-BPNPSM0446) Supplemental Reports as attachments to the monthly DMRs;
  • Submission of annual DMRs to report annual nutrient loads; and
  • Submission of the Annual Nutrient Summary Supplemental Report (3800-FM-BPNPSM0447) as an attachment to the annual DMRs.

Starting October 1, 2015 for Compliance Year 2016, PADEP is requesting that permittees comply with the following changes to reporting procedures:

  • Permittees are asked to download and utilize PADEP’s new “Annual Chesapeake Bay Spreadsheet.” This macro-enabled spreadsheet, which is available on PADEP’s DMR Supplemental Reports and Chesapeake Bay – Wastewater websites, contains two worksheets and instructions:
  1. Annual Nutrient Monitoring – Enter all daily flow and sample result nutrient concentration data throughout the Compliance Year into this worksheet. The Total Annual Load is calculated, as well as monthly loads and concentrations. The worksheet also determines the number of nutrient credits that may be generated or may need to be purchased based on the latest nutrient trading program procedures.
  2. Annual Nutrient Budget – Record all credits purchased or sold and all offsets you wish to apply toward compliance with cap loads. The Total Annual Load is adjusted for these credits and offsets to calculate the Annual Net Mass Load for the Compliance Year.
  • Permittees are required to submit the completed Annual Chesapeake Bay Spreadsheet with the annual DMR by November 28th each year (i.e., attach the spreadsheet to the annual DMR submission in the eDMR system). Submission of the Annual Chesapeake Bay Spreadsheet with monthly DMRs is optional. There may be effluent concentration limitations in the NPDES permit for certain parameters such as Ammonia-Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus that are reported on monthly DMRs. In such cases, to satisfy the requirement for documenting “daily” monitoring results, the permittee may leave these parameters off the “Daily Effluent Monitoring” spreadsheet that should be submitted as an attachment to monthly DMRs, and report the results on the Annual Chesapeake Bay Spreadsheet, if this spreadsheet is attached to monthly DMRs.
  • The nutrient trading program will not register credits without a completed Annual Chesapeake Bay Spreadsheet starting October 1, 2016.
  • The Nutrient Monitoring, Monthly Nitrogen Budget and Monthly Phosphorus Budget Supplemental Reports should no longer be submitted as attachments to monthly DMRs. The Annual Nutrient Summary Supplemental Report should no longer be submitted as an attachment to annual DMRs.

To assist permittees in understanding how to use the spreadsheet, PA DEP has posted detailed instructions for using the Annual Chesapeake Bay Spreadsheet on its DMR Supplemental Reports and Chesapeake Bay – Wastewater websites.