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How will the fresh water nutrient criteria affect your wastewater treatment plant?

Bill Meinert,

A federal water quality criteria change called the Ammonia rule is making its way through the U.S. and may require operational changes or capital improvements to your wastewater treatment plant to meet tighter effluent limits. It’s important to understand key issues, alternatives to addressing the rule at your plant, and potential solutions for this unfunded mandate, to ensure your plant meets compliance.

In 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published new aquatic life ambient water quality criteria for ammonia in fresh water, concerned with the toxic effects of ammonia (a component of total nitrogen (TN) discharges). These criteria are not one of the environmental regulations, or past federal actions, under review by the current U.S. administration. 

The new acute and chronic criteria, known as the Ammonia rule, were developed based on an expanded scientific understanding and sensitive species list. Focus of the ammonia toxicity assessment is in the immediate near-field mixing zones, where treated wastewater effluent is discharged to receiving waterbodies. The criteria are for fresh water since the most in-sensitive species include freshwater mussels, as well as snails, reportedly presented in 80-90% of all U.S. waters.

Over the past few years, various states across the U.S. have adopted these new criteria, either identical to federal guidelines or with certain modifications to the criteria or its regulatory procedures.

Learn more about how your wastewater treatment plant may be impacted by the criteria, as well as potential solutions.

About Bill Meinert, PE: Bill’s experience includes 30 years of municipal consulting. He leads large, complex wastewater conveyance and treatment projects for public-sector clients throughout the eastern U.S., start to finish.

Bill Meinert, PE 
(301) 731-1130