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Division of Water Holds Stakeholder Meetings Regarding Planned Wastewater Laboratory Certification Program

12.01.2011

Effective June 8, 2011, the General Assembly enacted legislation authorizing the Energy and Environment Cabinet (Cabinet) to develop a program that requires laboratories providing wastewater testing services to entities holding Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (KPDES) wastewater discharge permits to be certified by the Cabinet.

The legislation is an outgrowth of the Cabinet’s 2010 investigation of wastewater laboratories providing testing and reporting services for certain Kentucky coal mining operations.  Ultimately, the Cabinet brought enforcement actions -- later resulting in consent judgments imposing significant penalties -- against several KPDES permit holders that had contracted with the laboratories, alleging failure to conduct wastewater sampling and testing in accordance with permit and regulatory requirements.  As a result, the Cabinet determined that a laboratory certification program, similar to that implemented by the Cabinet for drinking water testing requirements and wastewater testing certification programs in place in other states, was necessary to ensure proper operation by wastewater laboratories providing services to Kentucky municipalities, industrial facilities, and other sources required to hold KPDES permits.

As enacted, KRS 224.10-760 authorizes the Cabinet to enact regulations that provide standards for the operation of wastewater testing laboratories providing KPDES testing services (including in-house laboratories), fees for certification and competency evaluations of those laboratories, and issuance of certificates of competency to persons and laboratories meeting the standards established by the agency.  The statute requires that the Cabinet “consider, among other things, nationally recognized certification programs and those tailored for individual states” in developing the program.

In the months since the enactment of KRS 224.10-760, DOW has held meetings with interested stakeholders regarding the development of the certification program.  At the last meeting, held September 28, 2011, DOW accepted input and comment on a draft regulation that DOW is currently considering for proposal as well as the development of a certification manual (expected to categorize certification requirements by parameter) that would ultimately be incorporated into the regulation.  Concerns raised by interested stakeholders to date have included costs associated with the program (which ultimately would be expected to increase costs charged to KPDES permit holders who contract for laboratory testing services) and treatment of “field lab” parameters under the program (including total residual chlorine, dissolved oxygen, pH and other parameters subject to short hold times).  Through stakeholder input, DOW has been informed that as many as 393 field laboratories, including some volunteer groups, may be covered by DOW’s regulation as currently drafted.

Aside from those entities, individuals, or other groups that provide only field services, DOW currently estimates that nearly 400 industrial facilities, consultants, commercial labs, municipalities and state laboratories (for example at state universities) could be covered under the program.  DOW expects to have a draft certification manual available for initial review at the next planned stakeholder meeting.  DOW currently plans to schedule that meeting for a date in January 2012.


To view a complete PDF of the Third/Fourth Quarter 2011 issue of the Environmental Letter, click HERE.

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