New regulations covering landfill sites’ discharge to surface waters
The US EPA has publishing final guidelines which set standards and limits for wastewater discharged to rivers and streams from landfill sites.
The Landfills Point Source Category sets effluent guidelines under the Clean Water Act to limit the amount of pollutants discharged by the landfill industry to surface waters.
The Landfills Point Source Category is intended to reduce discharges of pollutants by over 408,000 kg per year, particularly ammonia, toxic organic constituents, and metals.
EPA estimates that the total cost of the rule, which will come into effect on February 18, 2000, would be $7.6 million per year.
The Category was introduced because the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which was set up to establish disposal criteria and operation and design standards for landfills, does not address the discharge of landfill wastewater to surface waters or to publicly owned wastewater treatment plants (POTWs).
RCRA regulations require landfill operators to collect the leachate produced by the landfill and discharge it either directly into a body of water or to a POTW.
The final effluent guideline regulation only applies to landfills that discharge wastewater directly into receiving waters. It does not apply to landfills that discharge wastewater into a POTW.
The EPA concluded that national pre-treatment standards are not necessary for landfills. The Agency found that POTWs adequately treated the pollutants found in landfill wastewater, and only a very small quantity of pollutant loads discharged by landfills to POTWs are further discharged to surface waters.
Furthermore, EPA concluded that wastewater discharges from landfills do not cause operational problems (such as biological inhibition or sludge contamination) for POTWs.
The regulation does not apply to landfills dedicated to a particular industrial facility since wastewater produced by many of these facilities is already regulated by an effluent guideline or pre-treatment standard for that industry.
For non-hazardous landfills, the wastewater treatment technologies that EPA used as the basis for the effluent limitations included equalisation, activated sludge biological treatment, and multimedia filtration. For hazardous landfills, the wastewater treatment technologies included equalisation, chemical precipitation, activated sludge biological treatment, and multimedia filtration.
Landfills may choose the technology best suited for their site so long as the wastewater discharged from their facility meets the effluent limits set by this regulation.
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