In 2014, the Idaho Legislature through HB 406 directed the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to seek state primacy for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, which is currently operated in Idaho by the US Environmental Protection Agency. This program helps control water pollution by regulating point source discharges from industrial, municipal, and other facilities into surface waters. Idaho is currently one of only four states that do not have a state-operated pollutant discharge elimination system.
This significant, multiyear process will involve a series of program development, rulemaking, and legislative initiatives. To lead this effort, DEQ recently hired a program manager, rules and guidance coordinator, and permit lead to begin laying the groundwork for the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program. For more information about program development, visit www.deq.idaho.gov/ipdes-program-development.
Because transparency and public participation are key priorities for developing a state program, DEQ initiated a negotiated rulemaking in early December to foster discussion on topics such as IPDES permits, permit applications and appeals, fee structures, and other program components. Over 100 interested parties participated in a successful kick-off meeting on site in Boise and via conference call around the state. The meeting was the first in a series of monthly rulemakings leading up to the fall 2016 primacy application deadline. To learn more about the negotiated rulemaking effort, visit www.deq.idaho.gov/58-0125-1401.
DEQ believes this new state-run program will be a positive development both for the environment and regulated entities. The state IPDES program will ensure compliance with state water quality standards and enable better access to permit writers and other staff with local experience. The IPDES program will use local water quality knowledge and a streamlined flexible process for issuing permits.