On Point for November 2019: No grease down sinks or wipes down pipes

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

November 2019

Holiday greeting for your customers: Keep grease out of sinks and wipes out of pipes

"Wipes monster" joins Halloween parade in Winnebago, MN 2019

For municipal Wastewater Treatment Facilities (WWTFs), feel free to use this article on your city websites and in your community newsletters. Perhaps even send it to the local newspaper for publication.

This holiday season, do yourself and other taxpayers a favor by keeping grease from turkey and ham dinners out of sinks and other drains. And while you’re at it, stop flushing disposable wipes down the toilet, even if the label claims “flushable.” Sewer workers everywhere dread this time of year when the problem of “fatbergs” – clogs of fats, oil, grease, and wipes – worsens, leading to backups and costly repairs.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Dispose of fat, oil and grease by pouring them onto newspaper or other paper items in the trash, or into a non-recyclable container and then into the trash.
  • Another idea: Soak up grease with pieces of crusty bread pieces, and then put the bread on bird feeders for wild critters.
  • Wipe greasy pans, pots and other dishes out with a paper towel before washing.
  • Place disposable wipes in the trash too.

As this video program shows, disposable wipes may flush down the toilet, but they fail to break down. Cities across Minnesota report costly repairs and upgrades after wipes clog their pumps and pipes.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has proposed legislation in past sessions to require manufacturers to change their labeling on disposable wipes. The proposals didn’t go far, but the agency has created a toolkit to help educate consumers.

More information:

Photo above: Speaking of holidays … Jacob Skluzacek, city administrator of Winnebago, Minn., borrowed the MPCA's  "Wipes Monster" costume for the city’s Halloween parade last month.   

Check the inbox for Draft Annual Compliance Summary

Online subscribers on NPDES/SDS permits should have received an email from the MPCA with their draft Annual Compliance Summary Report by Nov. 14.

This draft report provides permittees the opportunity to review the information in the MPCA database regarding their NPDES/SDS permit for the period of Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019. They can then send corrections to the MPCA, which if done promptly, should be reflected in the final version of the report that will be sent to both the online subscriber and the responsible official/owner for the facility in March 2020.

In addition to maintaining good data, the updates and corrections help make sure that MPCA staff have correct information as they review facilities for the Operational Awards presented at the MPCA Annual Wastewater Operation Conference in March 2020.

If you are the online subscriber/DMR signatory for e-Services and have yet to receive the email with the draft compliance report, please notify the MPCA via email to npdes.pca@state.mn.us and a copy will be provided.

Minnesota Rural Water Association provides free energy assessments

Electricity use accounts for a significant percent of a water and wastewater utility’s operating budget, and an energy assessment can identify ways to reduce electricity use and associated costs. The Minnesota Rural Water Association offers free energy assessments that:

  • Review current and past energy use
  • Identify energy intensive operational components
  • Identify solutions to lower energy use and operating costs

Wastewater treatment systems that serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people, as well as rural areas and similar entities qualified to receive USDA Rural Development loans and grants, are eligible for the free energy assessments.

To learn more, please call or email Paul Hoeschen at 218-820-0473 or paul.hoeschen@mrwa.com.

Compliance tip: Best practices for mercury sampling

Mercury drops

Mercury sampling requirements are a common component of most NPDES permits in Minnesota. If you perform influent and effluent mercury sampling, below are best practices for your consideration:

  • Use the buddy system: Unlike most other sampling techniques, two people are necessary to properly complete the required clean hands/dirty hands method. That second set of hands may prevent a false high concentration result, which in turn, may help you avoid unnecessary sampling and treatment.
  • Sample planning and timing: Avoid collecting mercury samples immediately after the following:

- A large rain event. This may dislodge legacy mercury stuck to the walls of the sewer lines of to the equipment in the WWTF.

- After cleaning and jetting sewer lines.

- Replacing a lift station or other equipment in the sewer line or in the WWTF. This will result in legacy mercury being broken loose.

- Any activity of maintenance in the WWTF which has the potential to cause a temporary increase in total suspended solids.

Potential sources of contamination include:

  • Metallic or metal-containing sampling equipment, containers, labware (e.g. talc gloves), reagents, and deionized water.
  • Improperly cleaned and stored equipment and labware.
  • Dirt and/ or dust from automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke, and nearby roads/ buildings.

To minimize the potential for contamination, it is imperative that proper techniques are used to collect samples. If you have questions, please contact your laboratory or MPCA compliance staff.

eDMRs: How to report parameters with no results, including chlorine

Did you chlorinate this monitoring period? If not, follow the instructions below:

  • On the eDMR, leave the parameter box blank.
  • Add a note indicating that you did not chlorinate or that monitoring wasn't done or required in this monitoring period.

The same tip applies to other parameters that were not required to be monitored in that specific period or that you do not have any data for:

  • Leave the parameter box blank. Do not put "0" or "NA" in the parameter box.
  • Add a note that monitoring wasn’t done.

The Data Managers WILL NOT check the exceptions to the eDMR if there is no comment reported on the eDMR. Violations will appear if not including a note.

See other tips on the MPCA Discharge Monitoring Reports webpage. For help with eDMRs and other compliance issues, you may also contact your MPCA compliance officer or assigned data manager.


Year-end submittals: Send in Water Quality Submittals electronically

This is a reminder to send in your year-end submittals electronically to the electronic WQ Submittals at: wq.submittals.mpca@state.mn.us.

Follow these easy steps:

NOTE: The MPCA will not deem the WQ Submittal as received unless the form is attached.

The ONLY EXCEPTIONS to this electronic submittal process are:

  • Pretreatment Annual Reports
  • Whole Effluent Toxicity Tests (WET Tests)

These must still be submitted as paper copies to:

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Attention: WQ Submittals Center

520 Lafayette Road North

St. Paul, MN 55155-4194

If you have any questions regarding this new process, please contact your assigned MPCA data manager or compliance staff person.

Reminder: Annual biosolids report due to MPCA and EPA

http://www.epa.gov/compliance/npdes-ereportingFor municipal facilities with a design flow rate equal to or greater than 1 million gallons per day, municipal facilities that serve 10,000 people or more, and other facilities required to report (also known as “Class I sludge management facilities”) please see the following. (Note the federal reports are only for municipal facilities, not industrial facilities.)

Facilities that fall into the above category will need to submit an annual biosolids report to the MPCA by Dec. 31, 2019, and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Feb. 19, 2020. Both of these reports will be based on the cropping year.

For questions with the federal report, contact EPA’s help desk: NPDESeReporting@epa.gov or 1-877-227-8965. Additional information can be found at: www.epa.gov/compliance/npdes-ereporting .

All municipal facilities in Minnesota that manage biosolids are required to submit a biosolids annual report by Dec. 31, 2019. Please note that even if you didn’t land apply during the 2019 cropping year, a biosolids annual report still needs to be submitted.

New this year: State report must also be submitted electronically

Submit the state biosolids annual report electronically by e-mail. For the cover letter, use the form at this link: www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-wwprm7-71.docx. Email both the cover letter and report to: wq.submittals.mpca@state.mn.us.

Contact Sherry Bock of the MPCA at 218-316-3882 or sheryl.bock@state.mn.us or Cole Huggins at 218-316-3928 or cole.huggins@state.mn.us with any questions.