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Idaho DEQ Blog

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

SRF-funded energy-efficient wastewater treatment plant upgrade saves town over $300,000 a year

March 30, 2017

By Aimee Hill, Outreach and Environmental Coordinator, Grants and Loans

Upgrades to the City of Fruitland wastewater treatment plant will save the city almost 3,090,600 kilowatt-hours and $300,000 per year. The 2015 upgrades were made possible with a low-interest loan from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality State Revolving Fund (SRF). The SRF loan process emphasizes reductions to operations and maintenance costs.

The savings largely come from installing energy-efficient “green” options the city chose to fund when upgrading its wastewater treatment facility, in lieu of the more energy-intensive alternatives available.

Investigation required by the SRF’s Green Project Reserve Program revealed opportunities to upgrade Fruitland’s wastewater system that would provide additional energy and money savings. The city installed a low-pressure, high-intensity ultraviolet system along with a tertiary filter to reduce disinfection power requirements, premium energy-efficient blowers and pumps, and an advanced computer-based monitoring and control system to minimize power costs of the new plant while optimizing treatment effectiveness.

Substantial cost savings from reduced energy bills will rapidly offset the initial cost difference of the green components, and Fruitland can expect many years of continued cost savings due to the energy-efficient treatment of the city’s wastewater.

To learn more about the Green Project Reserve Program, visit www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/grants-loans/green-project-reserve.

DEQ wastewater loan helped fund City of Weiser upgrades, saving town over $45,000 a year

December 21, 2016

By Kevin McNeill, DEQ Loan Program

Upgrades to the City of Weiser wastewater treatment plant will save the city almost 665,000 kilowatt-hours and $45,000 per year. The upgrades were made possible with a low-interest loan from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality State Revolving Fund (SRF).

 

The savings come from installing energy-efficient “green” options the city chose to fund when upgrading its wastewater treatment facility in lieu of the more energy-intensive alternatives available. Substantial cost savings from reduced energy bills will rapidly offset the initial cost difference of the green components. Weiser can expect many subsequent years of continued cost savings due to the energy-efficient treatment of the city’s wastewater.

Investigation required by the SRF’s Green Project Reserve Program revealed opportunities to upgrade Weiser’s wastewater system that would provide additional energy and money savings. The city’s consultants recommended installing fine bubble diffusers with automated dissolved oxygen control and premium energy-efficient blowers and pumps equipped with variable frequency drives to ensure the equipment operated at optimum speeds, saving energy and reducing mechanical stress.

To learn more about grants and loans available to wastewater and drinking water systems, visit our Grants and Loans webpage.

IPDES Program submits application to EPA

September 1, 2016

By Mary Anne Nelson, IPDES Program Manager

It is my privilege to announce the culmination of over two years of time and hard work. On August 31, DEQ submitted the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) Program application to EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran. This application provides EPA with the materials to determine if DEQ should become the delegated authority to write and enforce National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits in Idaho. Idaho is one of only four states that does not administer its own program.

IPDES Program Manager Mary Anne Nelson presents DEQ Director John Tippets with the IPDES application.
Pictured from left to right, Deputy Director Jess Byrne, Water Quality Division Administrator Barry Burnell,
Director John Tippets, Deputy Attorney General Doug Conde, IPDES Program Manager Mary Anne Nelson,
and IPDES Rules/Guidance Coordinator Troy Smith.

The goal of IPDES, like the federal program, is to address water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States. Point sources are sources of pollutants with a discrete conveyance, such as a pipe, ditch, or other identifiable "point" of discharge.

The IPDES Program will issue permits for the discharge of domestic and nondomestic wastewater and storm water to Idaho surface waters. IPDES permits will be written to comply with state water quality standards and limit the amount of pollution that point sources may discharge into surface waters. While permittees must expect that protective, substantive permitting requirements will remain, they can look forward to gaining access to permit writers and other staff with local experience and knowledge and experiencing a streamlined timeline for issuing permits.

DEQ staff spent the last two years completing the application package, which includes a program description, memorandum of agreement with EPA, and a certification from the Office of the Attorney General. Participation from various stakeholders throughout the negotiated rulemaking and guidance development processes was critical and culminated in a new chapter of IDAPA rules approved by DEQ’s board last November and passed by the Idaho Legislature in March 2016. Staff worked diligently on all the components of the application package and will continue that effort into the future while developing guidance documents for writing IPDES permits, developing effluent limits to meet Idaho’s water quality standards, inspecting IPDES permitted facilities, and many other necessary policies and procedures.

DEQ expects this new state-run program to be a positive development both for the environment and regulated entities. The full program will require approximately 29 positions located in DEQ's state and regional offices and an annual budget of $3 million. For more about the IPDES Program, visit our IPDES webpage.

The application materials are all available electronically here.

The IPDES Program will administer the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States in Idaho upon approval of the program by EPA.

Coming to a stream near you: DEQ’s BURP crew

July 20, 2016

By Shawna Castle, Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Coordinator

As the agency responsible for protecting Idaho's surface water, DEQ continually monitors and assesses the quality of the state's rivers, streams, and lakes. Since Idaho has more than 95,000 miles of rivers and streams and 100 lakes and reservoirs, this is no small task. How does all that monitoring get done? Our BURP crews!

DEQ’s Beneficial Use Reconnaissance Program (BURP) began as a pilot project in 1993. Ever since, BURP has helped Idaho meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act by providing data to use when assessing Idaho's water bodies.

Each summer, DEQ BURP technicians follow standardized procedures to collect aquatic insects, conduct fish surveys, measure water chemistry, and document habitat conditions in streams and rivers. BURP surveys are performed during the same time period each year so the information is comparable from one year to the next. Aquatic insects and fish are very sensitive to changes in water quality, so their presence, abundance, and health serve as indicators of the overall quality of a water body.

Most BURP technicians are college students from around the Pacific Northwest. Many spend multiple summers working on DEQ’s BURP crews, which are based out of our six regional offices. Before the monitoring season begins, all technicians and coordinators gather for centralized training. Training includes on-the-ground instruction in collection techniques and a review of the BURP field manual and current year's work plan.

After training in June, most of DEQ’s BURP crews are out for their first full week of monitoring this week. We always look forward to the energy and enthusiasm the BURP crews bring to DEQ each summer and are thankful for their hard work in supporting DEQ’s efforts to protect Idaho surface waters.

The Surface Water Program is responsible for ensuring Idaho's streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands meet their beneficial uses and Idaho water quality standards.  

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