|A Message from NDEQ Director Jim Macy:
In July 2015, NDEQ initiated a monthly metrics report. This information is provided to the Governor’s Office, is shared with NDEQ staff, and now is being presented to the public. The reason this report has been established is to measure what the agency has accomplished; to set annual and longer-term goals; and to examine these goals against accomplishments to ensure continuous process improvements.
The July report focuses on air construction and operating permits, ag permits, wastewater permits, construction stormwater permits and agency inspections. Following that are graphs and information related to the Superfund site costs for operations and aid. This is followed by a summary of issues, accomplishments and other items of note for July, 2016.
Updated information will be posted monthly on this website.
The Federal Superfund law was promulgated to address historic contamination. The most egregious sites may be listed on the National Priority List (NPL). The law seeks to identify those responsible for contamination (the Responsible Party (RP)) and hold them responsible for the needed remediation. If it is not possible to identify the RP, or if the RP is insolvent, remediation is paid for by a combination of federal and state funds. In Nebraska there are 16 sites on the NPL – seven are being addressed by the RP, nine are being addressed as fund lead by Superfund dollars.
When sites are listed on the NPL, and there is no RP, states enter into contracts with EPA and agree to contribute 10% of the capital costs of remediation equipment, 10% of immediate project initiation and operational costs, and 10% of on-going operational costs for the first 10 years of the project. The 10% cost share is considered Aid in the state budget. After the initial 10 years, states assume 100% of the project costs. These costs are considered Operations in the state budget. While Aid costs appear asymptotic beginning in 2022, three of the nine fund lead NPL sites will have either new or amended remedies in place by then that will undoubtedly increase the Aid costs.
Following is a description of specific issues NDEQ has been addressing in April:
NDEQ staff is participating with Dept. of Agriculture and others presenting at Livestock Emergency Training Workshops across the state in July and August. The workshops are being sponsored by the North Central Nebraska Planning/Exercise/Training (PET) Region. There are ten PET Regions across the state that focus on the response to natural and man-made emergency incidents. The Workshops will focus on how to prepare for foreign animal disease outbreaks that can affect the agricultural community. A primary area of emphasis is Foot and Mouth Disease and Avian Influenza.
The City of Omaha and NDEQ have been working in tandem since 2009 to upgrade Omaha’s combined sewer system to meet federal Clean Water Act requirements. The total cost of the projects will exceed two-billion dollars. NDEQ has issued construction permits for 38 of the 80+ sewer separation projects that Omaha is planning. Several projects include improvements to the Missouri River treatment plant and are being financed by NDEQ loans expected to total $70 million. The flagship project will be a $400 million deep tunnel along the Missouri River that will capture untreated wastewater that has historically discharged into the Missouri River during rain events. The 5.4 mile long tunnel will be 15 feet in diameter and will be between 160 and 180 feet below the ground. The tunnel will enable primary treatment and disinfection to occur before the wastewater is discharged.
Nebraska has over 600 facilities subject to National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit requirements. EPA has established a national goal of no more than a 10% permit backlog for the permitting program. Water Quality Division staff have reduced our backlog to 6%.
Misc. Items of Note:
Jim Macy and Kara Valentine met with Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment officials to discuss the environmental and public health impact spring-time burning of prairies in the Flint Hills has on Nebraska. Kansas officials pledged to meet with Nebraska representatives later this fall to examine alternatives and additional practices to reduce impact on Nebraska. While there are provisions in the Clean Air Act providing legal remedies for states adversely affected by operations in neighboring states, NDEQ is attempting to work with Kansas officials on a cooperative basis before considering such actions.