Meeting Agendas & Minutes:
Power Point Presentations from July 17, 2014 Meeting:
- Welcome, Opening Remarks, and Work Group Goals - Ryan Tetreault, DPH Private Well Program
- Overview of the DEEP LFWTW General Permit - James Creighton, DEEP Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance - Water Permitting & Enforcement
- Types of Systems that Backwash/Determining Backwash Flows - Regu Regunathan, Water Quality Association
Individuals in attendance at the July 27, 2014 and July 30, 2014 meetings were given the opportunity to submit questions and comments. The questions/comments are provided in black font, followed by an answer or feedback to comments in blue font. Responses were compiled with input from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance - Water Permitting & Enforcement and the Department of Public Health’s Environmental Engineering and Private Well Programs.
- Please define “General Permit” and how it differs from a “Regulations”.
- What is “enforcement” regarding a General Permit (both in general and specifically regarding the LFWTW general permit)? How is it carried out and by whom?
Enforcement of this general permit (meaning taking any steps necessary to assure compliance with the general permit) will be considered a low enforcement priority of DEEP. However, Section 5(a) of the LFWTW general permit gives the commissioner of DEEP the authority to “take any action provided by law to abate a violation of this general permit”. Most likely it would take evidence of or the likelihood of some type of environmental or health threat for enforcement proceedings to begin. However, some type of continued and willful violations of the general permit could provide enough of a basis for enforcement proceedings.
- If a general permit is revoked and a violation continues, then what?
Continued and willful violations of the general permit could provide enough of a basis for enforcement proceedings through DEEP.
- Why is arsenic becoming a bigger problem? Is it just a new awareness of it?
Arsenic occurs naturally in bedrock all over the world. When groundwater comes in contact with the bedrock, the arsenic may leach out and contaminate a well. Arsenic is considered toxic and can have a variety of adverse health effects if people are exposed at high enough levels and for a long period of time. Arsenic is classified as a human cancer-causing agent, which has been associated with increased risk of lung, bladder and skin cancers. The Department of Public Health’s Environmental and Occupational Health Assessment (EOHA) Program evaluates and quantifies health risks posed by environmental and occupational exposures to chemicals and radiation. The EOHA Program received several anecdotal reports of private wells with elevated arsenic levels that prompted the issuance of a press release on March 18, 2013 “DPH Recommends Arsenic and Uranium Testing for Private Wells” and EHS Circular Letter # 2013-11 to Local Health Departments.
- Will copies of all the power points be on the DPH website?
Yes, all power point presentations gave during the 7/17/14 workgroup meeting are posted on the DPH Private Well Program website: www.ct.gov/dph/privatewells.
- If there are no records for the existing SSDS, should B-100a soil testing be conducted?
Firstly, the property owner, or property owner’s agent, should be advised that there are minimum setbacks required from the onsite sewage system; therefore because there are no records on file it will be necessary to determine its location to ensure compliance with the general permit. Secondly, they should be made aware that the Water Treatment Wastewater Disposal System/Structure (WTWDS) needs to be located above ledge rock and seasonal high groundwater as noted in the general permit, therefore gathering soil information in the area of the proposed WTWDS is necessary. If public sewers are not available, and the local health department is concerned that the WTWDS may affect soil characteristics or hydraulic conditions that could reduce the potential repair area for the onsite sewage system, then they can request a “B100a” review, which would include soil testing for a septic repair if information is not available. It would make sense to gather soil information for the WTWDS, the septic system repair area, and locate the existing septic system at the same time.
For those not familiar with the term “B100a”, it is used to reference Public Health Code Section 19-13-B100a that governs certain construction activities on sites relying on septic systems, and it is enforced by the local director of health. Certain activities (building additions and conversions, accessory structures, etc.) are specifically cited in B100a, whereas subsection (e) of the regulation includes broad language that govern “any other activity” that may affect “soil characteristics or hydraulic conditions” on a septic system site, and that subsection can be utilized to regulate activities that can affect onsite sewage disposal such as the installation of storm water infiltration systems, drilling replacement wells, and site modifications (filling & grade cuts). The Department of Public Health (DPH) Environmental Engineering Program (EEP) would support local health departments utilizing their existing B100a review process/protocol in their review of proposed WTWDSs. The local director of health should authorize such reviews and support the position that the WTWDS constitutes an activity governed by subsection (e) of B100a.
- The CT Public Health Code says that it prohibits the discharge of wastewater from treatment systems (i.e. softeners, iron or manganese removal filters.) Do acid neutralizers or carbon filters (that discharge wastewater and are not removing VOC’s) fall under this code as well?
Yes. All water treatment system wastewater, except limited quantities of certain point-of-use (POU) wastewater, cannot discharge to the septic system, even if the wastewater is solely generated from “fluffing up” a filter medium. Point of Use (POU) water treatment (i.e., kitchen sink) wastewater that is deemed to be incidental to the occupancy of a building and not a concern to the functioning of the septic system, can be authorized by DPH to discharge to septic systems. Currently, the discharge of point-of-use reverse osmosis reject water with flows less than 30 gpd for single-family homes is the only authorized discharge to septic systems.
- Why is item 6 included in general permit “Record keeping and reporting requirements” section? If an on-site WTWDS disposal system is installed on a property, would you also be disposing of waste water at a publicly owned treatment works (POTW)?
There are some sites in the state that will discharge low flow water treatment wastewater to a POTW (Publicly Owned Treatment Works or sewage treatment plant). If this is the case, DEEP needs something that shows that the discharger has received permission from the POTW to discharge the wastewater to the POTW.
- Does any other state have regulation for separate backwashing leaching field for filters?
The following link to Massachusetts DEP’s Standard Design Requirements for Shallow UIC Class V Injection Wells provides recommended setback distances from UIC Registered wells:
- Why do they allow garbage disposal system waste to go into septic tanks if only sewage is allowed?
Unlike water treatment system wastewater, garbage grinders/disposal systems are not specifically excluded in the statutory and regulatory definitions of sewage, and garbage grinders are considered incidental to the occupancy of buildings, and as such they are allowed to be connected to the plumbing system that discharges to septic systems. However, it should be noted that DPH does not recommend the use of garbage grinder/disposal systems on sites utilizing septic systems. When they are used, larger septic tanks are required and increased pumping is recommended.
- How many sanitarians have seen as-builts?
Any sanitarian that works for a local health department that has septic systems in their town(s) has very likely seen an as-built drawing.
- Are there any documented cases of failed septic systems (D-box, leach field, etc)? Are there studies in print that we can see?
DPH EEP staff routinely works with local health departments by providing assistance at site visits, which sometimes includes evaluating failures of SSDS (new and old). EEP has witnessed many septic system failures that were likely attributed to the use of a water softener or other type of water treatment system discharging to the septic system. Unfortunately EEP does not track these cases, however we do have historic files that include documentation on softener impacts on septic systems, and that information can be made available to interested parties. Additionally, members of the Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (COWRA), which include both pumpers and installers, have shared their observations with EEP at our technical advisory meetings. They have witnessed many cases when concrete components of the septic system become degraded or problems occur within the septic tank and/or leaching system due to water treatment wastewater discharge. A quick search on the internet will yield many articles on the impact water treatment wastewater has on septic systems, although the conclusions vary widely.
- How do you get higher grains per lb of salt – regarding annual salt consumption?
There are quite a few ways to increase the grains per lb salt efficiency. Some versions of demand initiated regeneration (DIR) are engineered to provide higher efficiency by using variable reserve capacity, proportional brining, or twin tanks. Likewise, some resins are designed to provide higher efficiency, such as uniform bead, fine mesh bead, shallow shell resin. The salt efficiency standard of 4,000 grains of hardness removed per pound of salt can be tested and certified by the capacity protocol in NSF/ANSI 44. Maximum 5 gallons of water used in softener regeneration per 1,000 grains of hardness removed can also be tested and certified by the water consumption protocol in NSF/ANSI 44. Consumers should set up a service schedule with a water treatment professional to check the regeneration settings, so adjustments to achieve maximum water and salt efficiency can be made.
By clicking the below link you will find Water Quality Association’s Best Practices that goes into more detail.
- Who is responsible when the homeowner says they will install the water treatment wastewater dispersal system and they don’t follow through?
The homeowner is responsible for complying with the requirements of the LFWTW general permit discharge criteria. Section 4 - Conditions of this General Permit states “The permittee shall at all times continue to meet the requirements for authorization set forth in Section 3 of this general permit.” The LFWTW general permit defines a “"Permittee" means any person or municipality who initiates, creates, originates or maintains a discharge in accordance with Section 3 of this General Permit.
- Activated carbon filters may take out volatile organics, but they do no release those chemicals during backwash in the wastewater from that washing process. Backwashing of carbon filters is done to fluff up the bed to take on the dirt and turbidity that gets incidentally taken out by the carbon granules. Backwash water from carbon filters item is no different than from other filters. Why then are they not allowed in LFWTW systems?
The wording of this should be altered so that only backwash from activated carbon systems that treat for volatile organic compounds is not allowed. This is not meant to be a complete prohibition of activated carbon backwash. The VOC backwash prohibition is also in DEEP’s larger Water Treatment Wastewater general permit.
- Variances for new construction: When is a property no longer “new”? Would it be any property constructed after 1/30/2014?
Yes, any property constructed after 1/30/2014.
- Vertical distances to ledge and groundwater – is soil testing on a neighboring property? I know this as a judgment call.
In 1999, the DPH Environmental Engineering Program (DPH EEP) issued Circular Letter #99-19 to local health departments advising them on soil testing requirements when accessory structures are being proposed. In certain cases, local health departments may choose to accept limited soil testing, such as shallow test holes dug by the property owner or soil testing on an adjacent property, in order to demonstrate compliance with PHC Section 19-13-B100a. This letter can be found on the DPH EEP website. The DPH EEP would support the same principals be applied for soil testing needed to properly design a water treatment wastewater dispersal structure (WTWDS). However, the DEEP general permit is silent on soil testing requirements. The DPH EEP recommends that applicants consult with their local health departments on this issue prior to installing a WTWDS.
- Are pipe diameters, distance to the drywell (water treatment wastewater dispersal system – WTWDS) and depth considered for purposes of freezing? Intermittent use can contribute to freezing.
The definition of a “Water Treatment Wastewater Disposal Structure” in the LFWTW general permit states the conveyance pipe to the water treatment wastewater dispersal structure is a solid non-perforated pipe. Definitions from the LFWTW general permit are provided below:
“Water Treatment Wastewater Dispersal Structure” means a structure, excavation or other facility designed to direct low flow water treatment wastewater to percolate into the underlying soil. Water treatment wastewater dispersal structures include but are not limited to stone filled excavations, leaching trenches, plastic leaching chambers, leaching galleries, leaching pits, etc.
“Water Treatment Wastewater Disposal System,” means a subsurface disposal system, other than a subsurface sewage disposal system, consisting of a solid, non-perforated conveyance pipe and possible enclosed settling structure followed by a water treatment wastewater dispersal structure.
Section 4. Conditons of the General Permit – (a) Operating Conditions, Item #5 requires the permittee to specify any anti-freeze provisions included in the installation. There was also group discussion and an example provided by Doug Lohman, Affordable Water LLC, during the 7/30/14 meeting. The example installation shared by Mr. Lohman is included at the end of this document.
- The criteria established should take into account public water systems. The DPH Drinking Water Section (DWS) needs to work with the DPH Private Well Program for consistency.
So noted. Thank you for your comment.
- What type of pipe (i.e. watertight) from the treatment system in the basement to the wastewater dispersal structure is allowed?
See response to question #18.
- Water softener units will take out arsenic, radionuclides, etc. and will discharge at concentrations greater than MCL. Are there any monitoring concerns?
So noted; however a typical water softener would likely only remove radium. A typical water softener exchanges positively charged ions (cations such as iron and manganese) and is more likely to exchange radium (if present in the raw water) with the brine salt solution. Removal of uranium by a water softener typically only occurs when the pH of the water is very acidic (less than a pH of 5 – see table below), which is not typical of groundwater in Connecticut.
There are two forms of arsenic:
- As(3) also referred to as As(III), trivalent arsenic, or arsenite
- As(5) also referred to as As(V), pentavalent arsenic, or arsenate.
There are no monitoring provisions in the LFWTW general permit. However, this does not
exempt permittees from compliance with Section 4(a)(4) of the general permit.
- Is an air gap or back flow device be required on backwash discharge pipe prior to pipe leaving building?
Yes, this is required of the Connecticut Plumbing Code, which references the International Plumbing Code. Section 802.1.5 in Chapter 8 of the International Plumbing Code (1993) on Indirect/Special Waste states the following “802.1.5 Nonpotable clear-water waste. Where devices and equipment such as process tanks, filters, drips and boilers discharge nonpotable water to the building drainage system, the discharge shall be through an indirect waste pipe by means of an air break or an air gap.”
- Are there water table impacts for percolation, consideration for soil percolation to accept the water treatment backwash discharge loading? Guidelines should discuss non-discharge treatment options.
The best way to identify if soil conditions are favorable for the installation of a water treatment wastewater dispersal structure is to dig a test pit hole and conduct a percolation test; however there are no requirements for this in the LFWTW general permit. Section 4. Conditons of the General Permit – (a) Operating Conditions, Item #5 under Section 4 outlines the size of the wastewater dispersal structure, the location of the structure above bedrock and groundwater and further directs the permittee to consult with the Local Director of Health if they are unsure about soil or groundwater conditions.
Thank you for your comment. The LFWTW general permit and guidelines do not apply to treatment systems that are removed/exchanged/replaced on a set frequency and backwashed/regenerated at an off-site location.
- A Local Health Department sanitarian receives as-built drawing for a water treatment wastewater dispersal structure (WTWDS) installation and determines that most of the information required in Section 4(b) of the DEEP LFWTW general permit “Record Keeping and Reporting Requirements” was not included on the installation report and/or not on the as-built drawing. Additionally, the sanitarian thinks the WTWDS was not installed in accordance with the criteria under Section 4 of the general permit regarding depth, sizing, etc. How should a Local Health Department handle this either for a new or existing house?
New Construction (new well): The local health official should send a letter to the property owner of record (the permittee), with a copy to the Local Health Department file and the DEEP Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance Water Permitting and Enforcement Division, that documents the areas of non-conformance. The local health official can choose to not sign off on the health department review for the certificate of occupancy permit until any issues with the installation of a WTWDS for water treatment backwash are resolved.
Existing wells: When a Local Health Department receives an installation report (required 30 days after the WTWDS is installed) and determines that 1) the installation report and/or as-built is incomplete or 2) the information on the installation report suggests non-conformance with any of the criteria of the LFWTW general permit, the Local Health Department should send a letter to the property owner (the permittee), with a copy to the Local Health Department file and the DEEP Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance Water Permitting and Enforcement Division, that documents the areas of non-conformance. When the non-conformance(s) identified pertains to a matter that creates a violation of the Public Health Code with respect to a well or septic system, or creates a nuisance condition under CGS Section 19a-206, the local health official should investigate the matter further and pursue any enforcement action necessary, as allowed by the Public Health Code or Connecticut General Statutes, until the matter is resolved.