NDEQ administers the Onsite Wastewater Treatment program which ensures waste from facilities not connected to a municipal wastewater treatment plant is treated in an environmentally sound manner. Approximately 25% of our citizens rely on onsite wastewater treatment systems, such as septic systems and lagoons. This program is supported by 3.5 FTEs.
Since January 1, 2004, there have been nearly 20,000 new or modified onsite wastewater treatment systems registered with NDEQ.
All onsite wastewater treatment systems constructed or modified since January 1, 2004 must be registered with NDEQ, by the individual who performs this work. All individuals who perform work on these systems must be certified by NDEQ.
Construction and Operating permits are issued to onsite systems with a flow greater than 1,000 gallons per day, or that treat non-domestic wastewater. New residential subdivisions using onsite systems on lots less than 3 acres must receive program approval.
The program receives and processes numerous complaints every year. Complaints include unregistered systems, uncertified workers, wastewater discharges and failed systems, and improper system design and construction.
Emerging Issues/Risks: NDEQ staff met with staff from NEMA, the Fire Marshal, State Patrol, local emergency management staff, and officials from Fortigen to discuss emergency preparedness. Fortigen is a large anhydrous ammonia manufacturer located approximately one mile from Geneva.
NDEQ continues to work with officials from South Sioux and Big Ox Energy on issues related to unacceptable levels of hydrogen sulfide impacting residences. South Sioux applied for a Wastewater Construction Permit for a new force main which will handle only the industrial waste from Big Ox. This should prevent any hydrogen sulfide from the industrial process impacting any residence. NDEQ reviewed, commented on and approved the application in record time.
Accomplishments: NDEQ organizational units have implemented process improvement efforts. The Air Quality Construction and Operating Permit Section, the Waste Management Grants Section, the Legal Division and the leaders of the Agricultural Section and Field Services Division are holding huddles in an attempt to promote communication and identify efficiency measures.
NDEQ, with NPPD staff, held two outreach events. First, the annual Power Summit, which brings the electricity-producing facilities and the regulators together to discuss issues of common interest, and; second, the organizations collaborated on a webinar developed to help the economic development community better understand environmental requirements.
Misc. Items of Note: NDEQ met with officials from Kansas and Oklahoma to discuss ramifications of burning in the Flint Hills of Kansas. As a direct result of the intentional fires in Kansas, NDEQ submitted an “exceptional event” justification to EPA. In essence, this is a request to discount exceedances of air quality standards for events which are outside a state’s control.