DEP Bureau of Water Quality Inching Toward Manganese (Mn) Rule Making

As directed by Act 40 of 2017, the DEP Bureau of Water Quality is slowly moving forward with rulemaking to bring Pennsylvania Manganese (Mn) limits into line with the less stringent Federal requirements. The Bureau of Water Quality has received quite a number of comments on the proposed Manganese rulemaking. However to date they have not published a response document to the comments they have received.

According to the Department, the Manganese rule making is slated to be on the agenda for the next meeting of the “Water Resource Advisory Committee (WRAC).” WRAC is the water equivalent of the Mine Reclamation Advisory Board.

The major issue the Department is grappling with is if they adopt a regulation as directed by the legislature, what impact it will have on aquatic life in Pennsylvania Streams. According to sources within the Department, the DEP Water Quality Department is “considering” developing some type of formula to deal with the issue and impact a rule change could have on aquatic life.

Additionally, the Fish and Game Commission has expressed some concern about the elimination of a statewide standard. The Fish and Game Department appears to have considerable influence on this matter.

Looking ahead, the legislative mandate to change the manganese treatment standard from 1.0 parts per million to a 2.0 parts per million standard is not popular within the bureaucracy and among influential environmental groups and water providers like Pennsylvania American Water and Aqua American Pennsylvania Water.

The Pennsylvania Anthracite Council and the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance have joined together to support regulations allowing Mn treatment levels be adjusted from 1.0 to a 2.0 parts per million which is the current Federal standard. However this is expected to be a very slow process. We are not expecting to see anything official to comment on for a year or more.

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