-Thank you, Pat. Good morning everyone, as Pat said, my name is Jason Knutson, and I am the Wastewater Section Chief in Central Office – the position formerly held by Bart Chapman. As some of you may know, this position manages the Central Office’s WPDES permit drafters and plan reviewers and is helps to lead policy development for the WPDES program. -As I came up through the program, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a number of you already. I am looking forward to expanding the scope of my work and thereby having the opportunity to work with a greater number of you in the years to come. -I’d like to continue on the topic of the realignment and give you an overview of the Water Quality Bureau’s structure. -As some of you may know, we also have a new Bureau Director in Sharon Gayan, who we were fortunate to have take on this role in last October (although she acted in the role before that). Sharon, please stand up so that we can introduce you. -The Water Quality Bureau has 5 sections that assess, evaluate, and manage our waters of the state. First the Monitoring Section gathers long-term trend data on waterbodies across the state. Then, the Water Evaluation Section, led by Brian Weigel, sets Water Quality Standards and uses the Monitoring data to assess water bodies, listing some as impaired and developing TMDLs for those waterbodies. Finally, the WPDES program, managed by the wastewater and permits sections, enacts effluent limitations and conditions through permits, and the lakes and rivers section manages our grants programs to help restore waters. -2 FODs are new with the alignment.
So that was just Central Office. The wastewater program depends upon a field staff that drafts permits and manages compliance through inspections and collaboration with you, our permittees. The state is divided into 5 regions for these purposes. I’d like to note that Bryan Hartsook, from our Stormwater Program, has accepted the position as the SER WW Supervisor. Additionally, Mike Vollrath has retired from WCR, and Dan Helsel is acting in this position, although we expect to have it filled within the near future.
As Pat mentioned, the realignment is an effort for us to evaluate the work we do and find efficiencies that allow us to better serve our state. As part of this, the Water Quality Bureau is working to form 3 study groups with externals. These include a group that will look at the permitting process and search for opportunities to make this more efficient and user-friendly. There will also be a septage committee focused on facilitating clear communication between septage haulers and the department in order to reduce preventable or avoidable violations and receive input from our external partners on the ground. Finally, a study group will work on aquatic plant management. There also are cross-program initiatives within the department, as we seek to find efficiencies by sharing efforts with other programs to achieve common goals. The first of these is a cross program “Aquatic Habitat Team” involving our Lakes and Rivers Grants program and our Fish Management program. This group will coordinate work planning and resource allocation related to biological monitoring and management of waters, including AIS response. Additionally, wastewater will work with other programs, including Air Management, to evaluate and streamline our permitting process. We’ve also hired a permit coordinator who strategically targets areas of the state to in order to keep our permit backlog uniformly low, statewide. Finally, the operator certification programs exist for WWTP operators as well as septage haulers and well drillers. This effort will seek to partner with these other programs in order to gain efficiencies in administering certification exams and licensing and relicensing efforts. Additionally, we will seek to work with our network of technical colleges in the state in order to help develop future study materials and update test information.
-The Wastewater Program continues to make progress on the EPA 75 Issues, a term that has come to be known and references our program’s efforts to update our state administrative code to be consistent with federal regulations. -The majority of rule packages associated with this effort are complete, but the final one, Rule Package 5, is on public notice until 3/1/17. This rule package primarily codifies existing practices related to reasonable potential to include WQBELs in permits, antibacksliding, and other issues. You can feel free to contact me with comments or questions on these proposed changes. -Finally, the program has directed our efforts at reducing our statewide permit backlog and has succeeded in reducing it to the lowest level in at least the last 8 years, at 19.8%. These efforts are ongoing. The program also continues to make progress on the EPA 75 Issues, implementing thermal, 316(b) (cooling water intake structure regs), and phosphorus regulations, and developing TMDLs. You will get updates on each of those, plus information on land treatment and land application in the talks to follow. Without further ado, let’s get to those topics. -Please feel free to find me at the lunch break – I’d love to meet new faces in the crowd.
Water Quality Bureau Central Office
Water Quality Bureau
Lakes and Rivers
(TMDLs, Water Quality
Water Quality Bureau