Wyoming Nutrient Work Group Fall 2017 Update

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality  | view as a webpage

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming Nutrient Work Group Fall 2017 Update

Wyoming Nutrient Work Group Electronic Mailing List

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently created an electronic mailing list specifically for the Wyoming Nutrient Work Group. The mailing list will allow us to more easily send updates and let individuals add or remove themselves as they wish. You can manage subscriptions here: http://deq.wyoming.gov/wqd/public-notices/wyoming-nutrient-work-group/.

Laramie Wastewater Treatment Plant Nutrient Removal Optimization

In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency offered to contract Grant Weaver of The Water Planet Company to provide assistance in implementing low-cost nutrient removal optimization practices at mechanical wastewater treatment plants in Wyoming. DEQ's Water and Wastewater Program recommended that Mr. Weaver work closely with a single treatment plant to help ensure that the plant received adequate attention and that the changes they implemented were sufficiently documented. The City of Laramie's Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor expressed interest in nutrient removal optimization and hosted a 2-day training by Mr. Weaver in Laramie on May 31 and June 1, 2017. Following the training, Mr. Weaver and staff at the Laramie wastewater treatment plant identified ways to modify plant operations to decrease nitrogen in their effluent. The plant has been implementing incremental changes to their operations and has noted reductions in the amount of total nitrogen. The plant has been able to do this while also maintaining very low ammonia concentrations. Mr. Weaver visited the plant again on September 19th and will continue to work with the plant to identify ways to increase nutrient removal and reduce power costs. Questions regarding this effort can be directed to Paul Lohman at Paul.Lohman@wyo.gov or 307-777-7088.

Harmful Algal Blooms

Developing and implementing a harmful algal bloom action plan was identified as a high priority for members of the Education and Outreach Support Group. As a result, between 2016 and 2017, DEQ worked with the Wyoming Department of Health and other resource management agencies to develop and refine the Wyoming Harmful Algal Bloom Action Plan. The Action Plan identifies: steps to evaluate whether an algal bloom is likely to contain harmful cyanobacteria; procedures to test for harmful levels of cyanotoxins and/or cyanobacteria; cyanotoxin and cyanobacteria cell density thresholds for issuing a public health advisory; and example signage and notifications. In addition, DEQ developed standard operating procedures for the collection of cyanotoxins and cyanobacteria and identified contract labs that can analyze these samples. In July 2017, DEQ put out a press release in cooperation with the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Livestock Board to notify the public to avoid and keep animals away from blue-green algae blooms in Wyoming’s lakes and reservoirs as well as report suspected blooms to DEQ. DEQ also developed a website with information about harmful algal blooms. This summer, DEQ investigated potential harmful algal blooms at Flaming Gorge, Woodruff Narrows, and Boysen Reservoirs. Sampling results from Woodruff Narrows and Boysen Reservoir exceeded the recommended cyanobacteria and/or cyanotoxin thresholds identified in the Action Plan. As a result, the Wyoming Department of Health issued a recreational health advisory and signs were posted at the reservoirs. DEQ would like to thank the Wyoming Department of Health, Wyoming Livestock Board, United States Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Wyoming State Parks for their cooperation during the 2017 bloom season. DEQ plans to update the Harmful Algal Bloom Action Plan in advance of the 2018 bloom season. Questions regarding this effort can be directed to Michael Thomas at Michael.Thomas@wyo.gov or 307-777-2073.

 Wyoming Basin Lakes Numeric Nutrient Criteria

The Watershed Protection Program continues to work on developing recommended numeric nutrient criteria for Wyoming Basin Lakes. These recommendations are included in a draft technical support document that describes the analysis and rationale for deriving criteria. The technical support document has been reviewed internally and was recently sent to three external peer reviewers. The peer reviewers have been sent a list of “charge” questions to focus their review and feedback. The reviewers will have approximately 120 days to review the technical support document and provide feedback to DEQ. DEQ will review the feedback and make any necessary changes to the analysis and document. Once revisions are made, DEQ plans to share the results and technical support document with the Nutrient Work Group. Questions regarding this effort can be directed to Eric Hargett at Eric.Hargett@wyo.gov or 307-777-6701.

Boysen Reservoir Watershed Strategy

After receiving feedback from the Nutrient Work Group, in May 2017, the Boysen Reservoir watershed was selected as the priority for implementing the Wyoming Nutrient Strategy. Boysen Reservoir was selected because it is used frequently for immersion recreation activities, has had high cyanobacteria densities that may pose a risk to public health, has experienced fish kills, is a drinking water supply, and is heavily used for other types of recreation (e.g., boating, fishing, etc.). As an initial step, DEQ reached out to the Popo Agie, Lower Winder River, and Dubois Crowheart Conservation Districts in the Boysen Reservoir watershed to obtain feedback on how to best proceed with implementing the Nutrient Strategy. The Conservation Districts recommended compiling the existing nutrient and response data in the watershed in order to refine subwatershed contributions and other potential sources of nutrients. Watershed Protection Program staff will be compiling the existing data available for the reservoir and watershed, but is currently focusing on developing more detailed assessment methods for identifying impairments of existing narrative criteria due to nutrient pollution. The more detailed assessment methods will be shared with the Nutrient Work Group when a preliminary draft is available. Questions regarding this effort can be directed to Lindsay Patterson at Lindsay.Patterson@wyo.gov or 307-777-7079.

Rulemaking to Allow for Discharger Specific Variances

In February 2017, the Water Quality Division initiated a revision of the Water Quality Rules and Regulations, Chapter 1, Wyoming Surface Water Quality Standards. The proposed rule outlines a process whereby the Administrator of the Water Quality Division may grant a temporary modification to a designated use and water quality criteria, called a discharger specific variance. A discharger specific variance may only be granted in circumstances where meeting a water quality-based effluent limit for ammonia and/or nutrients would result in substantial and widespread economic and social impact. The process is intended to provide a mechanism for point sources to make incremental progress toward meeting water quality criteria in circumstances where it is currently infeasible to meet the criteria. The proposed rule was brought before the Water and Waste Advisory Board in June and again in September 2017. At the September 2017 meeting, the Water and Waste Advisory Board recommended advancing the rule to the Environmental Quality Council. It is anticipated that the proposed rule will be brought before the Environmental Quality Council at their February hearing. Questions regarding this effort can be directed to Lindsay Patterson at Lindsay.Patterson@wyo.gov or 307-777-7079.