PAC Provides Comments on Advance Notice of Rule Making for Manganese

The Pennsylvania Anthracite Council has provided the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with comments on its manganese water standards. The comments come at the request of the DEP as part of an “Advance Notice of Rulemaking.”

As directed by Act 40 of 2017, Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) has instructed the DEP to review its current water regulations for “environmental and economic information to support the development of the required regulations” to bring them into Federal water quality standards.

Currently, Pennsylvania regulations have two different treatment standards for Manganese (Mn). The mining program under Chapter 87 and 88 requires treatment to meet Federal guidelines a 2.0 effluent standard. However, the Pennsylvania’s Clean Water Standards require a more stringent 1.0 effluent standard treatment, which supersedes the less stringent mining program treatment standard.

In its comments to the DEP, the PAC specifically requested that 25 PA Code 96.3 (d) be amended to include manganese as an exception to subsection (c). By adding Manganese to its current list of exceptions it would be required to be treated on a site specific basis. However, companies would be required to amend their Total Maximum Dailey Load (TMDL) plans which could still require more stringent treatment methods for Manganese.
For example, as required by regulation, one anthracite mining company located in Schuylkill County is treating for Manganese at its mine discharge to the 1.0 standard. It is placing its treated discharge into the Little Schuylkill River which is one of numerous tributaries of the Schuylkill River.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from 2013 to 2017 the average daily mean water flow in the Little Schuylkill River averaged between 64.5 and 84.9 cubic feet per second (CFS). However, by the time it reaches its nearest Potable Water Supply intake, 73 miles from the treated discharge, the flow had increased to an average daily mean ranging from 2,276 to 3,245 CFS. This is more than 38 times the flow originating in Schuylkill County.

In it comments, the PAC argued that amending 25 PA Code 96.3 (d) to include manganese will have no noticeable impact on public drinking water supplies downstream. However, it will provide significant financial relief to employers mining coal who are required to treat manganese on their sites to a needless higher standard.

According the DEP Bureau of Clean Water, the Department is charged with coming back with a rulemaking that will add Manganese to the list of exemptions in PA Code 93.3 (d). However, the Department is still trying to determine how to that in a manner consistent with the other exemptions already listed in the regulations.

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