Prepared by Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC
The Environmental Practice Group of the Brunini Law Firm publishes a summary of the proceedings of each monthly meeting of the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board and of the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality. We strive to provide, in a succinct newsletter format, the key points addressed in each meeting that will be of interest to the regulated community in Mississippi.
If you have any questions concerning the content of a newsletter it would like further information about the matters addressed in a newsletter, please contact John Milner, the Brunini Firm Environmental Practice Group leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 960-6842.
The Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality convened at 9:00 a.m. on September 24, 2014, at the offices of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in Jackson. Chat Phillips chaired the meeting attended by all members. Minutes from the previous meeting held on July 24, 2014 were approved.
The Commission welcomed Gary Rikard as the new Executive Director of MDEQ.
Following a prepared agenda, items considered were as follows:
WATER POLLUTION CONTROL REVOLVING FUND LOAN PROGRAM, AMENDMENT I
Tony Caldwell of MDEQ staff presented Amendment I of the FY-2014 Intended Use Plan. Caldwell explained that Amendment I includes new projects approved for funding through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program, a low-interest loan program. The Commission unanimously adopted Amendment I to the FY-2014 Intended Use Plan as presented by the MDEQ staff.
Amendment includes the following elements:
- Correction of the Priority List expiration date;
- Addition of new projects to the planning list for possible funding during FY-2014;
- Incorporation of the 204 Title VI capitalization grant allotment;
- Modification of FY-2014 capitalization grant and state match obligations due to the lack of adequate state match authorization during the 2014 Regular Legislative Session; and
- Provision for the obligation of additional repayments (through September 2016) to replace the unavailable FY-2014 capitalization grant and state match funds.
MDEQ held a 30-day public comment period and a public meeting for discussion of Amendment I. No comments were received during the public notice or meeting.
UPDATE: HYDRAULIC FRACTURING IN MISSISSIPPI
Richard Harrell, P.E. and Kay Whittington, P.E. of MDEQ presented an update on hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) activities in Mississippi. A summary of remarks follow. If you would like to receive a copy of the MDEQ slides on this topic, please contact John Milner at email@example.com.
MDEQ regulates several elements of hydrofracking: withdrawals of water from ground water sources; withdrawals of water from surface water sources; stormwater runoff from construction sites; discharges or treatment of wast waters; spills or releases that threaten state waters; impoundments in terms of dam safety and requirements; and air pollution.
MDEQ Staff stressed that they presently have no reports of spills/ releases associate with hydrofracking. MDEQ currently has applications for hydrofracking activities at 48 sites in Wilkinson and Amite counties. Their current path forward includes managing water resources with conjunctive water use, monitoring and protecting groundwater and surface water levels and quality and working directly with affected communities. MDEQ is currently developing a General Permit to expedite air permit processing times.
Conjunctive Water Use
Hydrofracking activities use large amounts of water during the initial production phase. Water use fluctuates based on type of fracturing method used, length of laterals, number of frack stages, and volume of sand used. Potential water supplies include streams and rivers, private ponds, groundwater, recycled and treated flowback water, treated municipal wastewater, and the Mississippi River. MDEQ will balance hydrofracking water needs with their duty to protect beneficial uses of waters (i.e., recreational uses and aquatic life support), especially during the low-flow season.
MDEQ staff stated they are collecting additional data in efforts to develop methodology to determine maximum withdrawal allowable without causing adverse impact to aquatic life and surface water flow regimes. This concept, termed with “conjunctive water use” will enable MDEQ to balance uses of surface and ground water with hydrofracking uses.
Drinking Water Protection
Continuing with the concept of conjunctive water use, MDEQ stated that no new or existing groundwater wells will be permitted for hydrofracking use that would adversely impact existing drinking uses. Most public water supply wells in Amite and Wilkinson Counties are shallow, with the majority at depths of less than 600 ft. The MS Department of Health has conducted baseline monitoring in public water supply wells of Amite and Wilkinson Counties. Monitoring will continue.
Permits for Groundwater Withdrawal for Hydrofracking Use
To date, MDEQ has issued six permits for groundwater withdrawal for hydrofracking use. These wells are all below 600 feet (lower than the depth of most public water supply wells). Future withdrawal permits will carry special terms and conditions. Elements of the special terms and conditions include: field survey of wells in 1 mile radius; submission of geophysical log to MDEQ; required inspection plug and meter; required pump test required; measurement and submittal of static water levels before and after each fracking event; collection and analysis of water quality samples; and report of water use for each fracking event.
Groundwater Quality Protection
MDEQ and the MS Oil and Gas Board are jointly developing requirements for groundwater protection. The requirements include the use of lined surface pits for storage of fresh water and flowback water and design requirements for well surface casings. MDEQ staff stated that there is a significant depth difference between public water wells (typically less than 600 feet) and well depths in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (approximately 12,000 feet). Additionally, staff noted that there are hundreds of feet of confinement between drinking water wells and the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale.
Other concerns include the future demands to infrastructure (i.e. roads, publici water supply and municipal wastewater treatment capacities) due to expected population growth in Amite and Wilkinson Counties. MDEQ staff is actively engagign with municipalities in potentially affected areas to upgrade infrastructure in anticipation of future growth.
Asbestos: 204 Certifications
Lead Paint: 89 Certifications
Underground Storage Tanks: 8 Certifications
EMERGENCY CLEAN-UP EXPENSES APPROVED
The following eight (8) emergency clean-up expenditures occurred since the last report:
Complete Environmental & Remediation (3 emergency clean-up expenses) in the counties of Winston and Lee due to clean-up of April tornadoes.
United States Environmental Services (5 emergency clean-up expenses) in the counties of Sunflower, Jackson, Copiah, Yazoo and Jefferson Davis due to diesel spill clean-up.
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS APPROVED
Twenty-four (24) administrative orders issued by the Executive Director and approved by the Commission included the following matters:
|Program Area||Number of Orders||Penalty Range|
|Large Construction Stormwater||2||$2,500-$5,000|
|Lumber/ Wood Treating||3||$2,200- $15,500|
A scheduling order with Pilot Travel Centers was issued to schedule a date for the evidentiary hearing requested before the Commission.
An order approves the proposed amendment to Pine Belt Solid Waste Management Plan to expand the Randy-Danny, Inc. Rubbish Site.
An order approves the proposed amendment to Three Rivers Regional Solid Waste Management Plan to expand the TMCO Class I Rubbish Site and to add the North MS Recycling Solutions Class I Rubbish Site.
An order approves the proposed amendment to Yazoo County Waste Management Plan to add eleven new land applications for spreading of bio solids for soil amendment purposes.
An order approves the proposed amendment to Forest county Solid Waste Management Plan to add the 90 Class I Rubbish Site.
An order confirms that Kossen Properties, LLC and Empire Truck Sale of Louisiana have satisfied remediation requirements in conjunction with a Brownfield Agreement.
The remaining orders were not enforcement-oriented, but rather dealt with the approval of amendments to Title 11 (Regulations governing surface coal mining), and approval of the MS 2014 Section of 303 (d) List of Impaired Water Bodies.
The next Commission meeting is scheduled for October 23, 2014.
If you have any questions concerning the matters summarized in this Newsletter, please contact John Milner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 960-6842.