Industrial Waste

Permit enforcement

State law authorizes Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) to enforce its waste discharge rules and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pretreatment regulations concerning wastewater discharges into the sanitary sewer and the Metropolitan Disposal System.

Legal authority

MCES's 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.

Formal enforcement responses

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)

This is a formal written notification from MCES that an industrial user has violated or is threatening to violate MCES rules. The NOV lists the violation and requires that the industrial user: 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 industrial user receiving an NOV should adhere to all dates and requirements to avoid further escalating enforcement response.

Stipulation Agreement

A formal agreement between the industrial user and MCES through which the industrial user agrees to terms for achieving compliance, and MCES agrees to allow the industrial user to continue to operate if the terms of the agreement are being met. Stipulation agreements may have the following elements:

  1. Interim general requirements (such as additional wastewater monitoring, development of a procedures manual to better operate pretreatment equipment)
  2. Compliance schedule (includes tasks and interim reporting dates)
  3. Final compliance date and verification of compliance
  4. Penalties for noncompliance (penalties may consist of initial penalties for past violations, monthly penalties, and daily penalties for missing compliance dates)
  5. Termination clause (allows MCES to terminate the stipulation agreement if the industrial user does not comply with the agreement)

Order to Appear (OTA)

This is a formal order to a specific representative of an industrial user to appear before MCES personnel to explain why MCES should not modify, suspend, or revoke the industrial user's Industrial Discharge Permit. During the proceeding, the industrial user may receive an order from MCES directing the user to take specific action to resolve the violation, which, if carried out, could eliminate the need to modify, suspend, or revoke the user's permit.

Significant noncompliance

MCES is required to develop an annual list of Significant Industrial Users who have been in significant noncompliance. The list will be published in the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press during March of each year. A permittee is in significant noncompliance if violations of pretreatment standards or requirements have occurred which meet any of the following U.S. EPA criteria:

  • Chronic violations of wastewater discharge limits, defined here as those in which 66% 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 violations, defined here as those in which 33% 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 that 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 Peter Sandberg at peter.sandberg@metc.state.mn.us or 651-602-4707.