SSO/Wastewater Enforcement: Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment – Environmental Quality Division and City of Shannon Hills Enter Administrative Consent Order | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, LLC

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The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment – Division of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) and Shannon Hills, Arkansas (“Shannon Hills”) have entered into an Administrative Consent Order (“CAO ) on March 1 regarding alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. See DSL No. 22-018.

The CAO provides that Shannon Hills will operate a municipal wastewater treatment facility (“Facility”) in Saline County, Arkansas.

The facility is supposed to discharge treated wastewater via a 10-inch penstock to Otter Creek, which eventually empties into the Arkansas River. These discharges are regulated under a Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit.

DEQ sent Shannon Hills a letter requesting a corrective action plan (“CAP”) on January 9, 2020, to address the effluent violations. The CAP had to have a timeline of milestones, an end date for compliance, and be certified by a professional engineer from Arkansas.

The CAP was submitted to DEQ on February 12, 2020, with a final compliance date of November 25, 2020. DEQ conditionally approved the CAP and requested a new milestone schedule.

DEQ reportedly conducted a lift station inspection on August 18, 2021 due to a sanitary sewer overflow. The inspection reportedly identified the following violations:

  • There was an accumulation of solids at the top of the wet well.
  • The lifting station high level warning light has been disabled.
  • The lift station was showing signs of overflowing.

DEQ emailed Shannon Hills advising that DEQ observed evidence of sanitary sewer overflows (“SSO”) at a lift station and requested a CAP. Additionally, Shannon Hills was instructed to immediately report SSOs to the DEQ. Shannon Hills reportedly told the DEQ that DED had been reported and was working on replacing grinder pumps in the area where it occurred.

The DEQ conducted a review of Discharge Monitoring Reports (“DMRs”) certified on October 13, 2021. The following violations were reportedly identified:

a. Twenty-seven (27) ammoniacal nitrogen violations;

b. Seven (7) total suspended solids violations; and

vs. Two (2) violations for fecal coliform bacteria.

The review also reportedly indicated that Shannon Hills failed to submit certain Non-Compliance Reports (“NCRs”) for the alleged violations. In addition, the facility reportedly reported design flow above the allowable flow of 0.641 million gallons per day during the following monitoring periods:

a. 2018: August, September, October, November and December;

b. 2019: January, March, April, May, June, July, October, November and December;

vs. 2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, September, November and December; and

D. 2021: January, March, April, May, June and July.

A review of SSOs reported by Shannon Hills was undertaken by DEQ for the period August 1, 2018 to October 13, 2021. The review reportedly indicated that Shannon Hills reported six SSOs totaling approximately 3,135 gallons.

DEQ and Shannon Hills met on November 10, 2021 to discuss:

  • SSO
  • Effluent violations
  • Facility Improvements
  • License renewal application to be submitted to the DEQ before February 1, 2022

Shannon Hills provided an update on the deliverables discussed at the meeting. However, the update did not include the requested CAP with a schedule of milestones.

The CAO requires that within 30 calendar days of its effective date, Shannon Hills submit to the DEQ for review and approval a comprehensive CAP developed by an Arkansas professional engineer which must include methods and best available technologies that will be used to correct violations. listed in the findings of fact, address process system design flow overruns, and prevent future violations. A schedule must be included with a final compliance date no later than December 31, 2023. Once approved by DEQ, the components are thus integrated into the CAD. Quarterly progress reports are required.

The CAO also requires Shannon Hills to submit to the DEQ the RNCs referenced in paragraph 19 of the findings of fact and to submit an RNC for each monitoring period in which any violation of authorized effluent discharge limits is reported.

Within 12 months of its effective date, Shannon Hills must develop and submit to DEQ for review and approval a Sewer System Evaluation Study (“SSES”) for its sanitary sewer collection system. The SSES must be certified by an Arkansas professional engineer and include a number of items specified in paragraph 4 of the Order and Agreement section of the CAO.

The SSES must include an SSO plan with a milestone schedule that details the steps Shannon Hills must take to implement the corrective actions in a comprehensive and timely manner. Once approved, the SSO plan and milestone schedule become part of the CAO and therefore enforceable.

A civil penalty of $5,200 is imposed which could have been reduced to $2,600 if the document had been signed and returned to DEQ within 20 calendar days of receipt.

A copy of the CAD can be downloaded here.

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