Metropolitan Council Environmental Services has been granted the authority to enforce its "Waste Discharge Rules" and the EPA pretreatment regulations concerning wastewater discharges into the sanitary sewer and the Metropolitan Disposal System (MDS).
MCES' legal authority is based on Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 473.501 - 473.549. Specifically, Chapter 473.504, Subd. 4 empowers MCES to carry out elements of the federally mandated pretreatment program. This statute says:
"The Council shall have the power to adopt rules relating to the operation of any interceptors or treatment works operated by it...."
Minnesota Statute Chapter 473.515, Subd. 3 authorizes MCES to regulate the discharge of sewage and connections into the Metropolitan Disposal System (MDS). Subdivision 3 states that the Council:
"... may require any person or local government unit discharging sewage into the MDS to provide preliminary treatment thereof; may prohibit the discharge into the MDS of any substance which it determines will or may be harmful to the system or any persons operating it...."
Pursuant to this authority, MCES has adopted and amended Waste Discharge Rules for the Metropolitan Disposal System.
MCES generates a list of enforcement responses in its annual Pretreatment Report published in March of each year. Below is a description of the main enforcement responses MCES uses.
Notice of Violation (NOV)
A formal written notification from MCES that an Industrial User (IU) has violated or is threatening to violate MCES Rules. The NOV lists the violation and requires that the IU: correct the violation, submit an explanation for the violation, and describe planned actions to achieve and maintain compliance. The NOV requires verification of compliance through monitoring or information submittal, and requires the payment of a cost recovery fee. The NOV states that MCES may take further enforcement action.
The NOV is the enforcement action most commonly used by MCES. NOVs contain specific requirements and due dates to reach compliance. The IU receiving an NOV should ensure that all dates and requirements are adhered to, to avoid further escalating enforcement response.
A formal agreement between the IU and MCES through which the IU agrees to terms for achieving compliance and MCES agrees to allow the IU to continue to operate if the terms of the agreement are being met. Stipulation Agreements may have the following elements:
- Interim General Requirements (such as additional wastewater monitoring, development of a procedures manual to better operate pretreatment equipment)
- Compliance Schedule (includes tasks and interim reporting dates)
- Final Compliance Date and Verification of Compliance
- Penalties for Noncompliance (penalties may consist of initial penalties for past violations, monthly penalties, and daily penalties for missing compliance dates)
- Termination Clause (allows MCES to terminate the Stipulation Agreement if the IU does not comply with the agreement)
Order to Appear (OTA)
A formal order to a specific representative of an IU to appear before MCES personnel to explain why MCES should not modify, suspend, or revoke the IU's Industrial Discharge Permit. During the proceeding, the IU may receive an order from MCES directing the IU to take specific action to resolve the violation, which if carried out, could eliminate the need to modify, suspend, or revoke the IU's permit.
MCES is required to develop an annual list of Significant Industrial Users who have been in significant noncompliance (SNC). The list will be published in the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press during March of each year. A Permittee is in SNC if violations of pretreatment standards or requirements have occurred which meet any of the following criteria:
EPA criteria for publishing significant noncompliance
- Chronic violations of wastewater discharge limits, defined here as those in which 66 percent or more of the measurements taken during a six-month period exceed (by any magnitude) the daily maximum limit or the long-term average limit for the same pollutant parameter.
- Technical Review Criteria (TRC) violations, defined here as those in which 33 percent or more of the measurements for each pollutant parameter taken during a six-month period equal or exceed the product of the daily maximum limit or the long-term average limit multiplied by 1.2.
- Any other violation of a discharge limit (daily maximum or long-term average) that MCES determines has caused, alone or in combination with other discharges, wastewater treatment plant interference or pass through.
- Any discharge of a pollutant that has caused imminent endangerment to human health, welfare, or to the environment; or has resulted in MCES exercising its emergency authority to halt or prevent such a discharge.
- Failing to meet, within 90 days after the schedule date, a compliance schedule milestone contained in a discharge permit or enforcement order for starting construction, completing construction, or attaining final compliance.
- Failure to provide, within 45 days after the due date, required reports such as baseline monitoring reports, 90-day reports, periodic industrial waste discharge reports, and reports on compliance with compliance schedules.
- Failure to accurately report noncompliance.
- Any other violation or group of violations, which MCES determines, will adversely affect the operation or implementation of the local pretreatment program.
For additional information regarding MCES’s enforcement of the Waste Discharge Rules, please contact Mark Pierson at 651.602.4707.