At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) July workshop on sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) provided insights on potential SSO regulation, along with other participating environmental groups and water associations. Most participants supported the need for EPA to develop a comprehensive SSO rule.

Workshop topics included reporting, recordkeeping, and notification; capacity, management, operation, and maintenance programs; permitting of satellite collection systems; SSOs beyond control of the public agency; peak wet weather flow treatment; and parallel treatment of flows at wastewater treatment plants.

There was general agreement that a goal for any SSO rule would be the certainty that systems could be brought into compliance. EPA Office of Wastewater Management Director Jim Hanlon said, “The reality is … that there’s no such thing as zero,” indicating that events outside of a utility’s control can lead to overflows. Hanlon also said that EPA would consider options for peak wet weather flow treatment, such as a tiered system or a separate track that takes into account advanced technology for treating infiltration and inflow.

See the July 22 issue of This Week in Washington for more information. Also check out WEF’s position statement on managing wet weather flows. EPA plans to release a summary of the discussion, possibly including next steps, at a later date.