The Susquehanna River Basin Commission released a proposed rulemaking to amend its regulations. The comment period closed on January 30, 2017.
Below is a summary of the proposed changes.
Application requirements and standards for the review of regulatory projects – These sections provides improved clarity and additional detail related to information sought and further analyses needed during the application submittal and review process, and largely aligns the regulations with existing practice. There are also new requirements specific to projects such as mine and construction dewatering, water resource remediation, and abandoned mine drainage remediation facilities.
Mitigation of consumptive use – The proposed revisions lower the water storage standard for the mitigation of consumptive water use from 90 days to 45 days, and require a mitigation plan to encourage water conservation and promote actual mitigation of water, including blended mitigation options. The proposed rules also allow for the potential requirement for mitigation of pre-compact consumptive use if the project is located in a water critical area. At the Commission meeting on December 8, 2016, the Commissioners voted to extend the deadline for the CU mitigation guidance to January 30, 2017.
Additional information on the mitigation of consumptive use can be found at the link above
Concurrent with these changes in consumptive use regulations, the Commission also developed a consumptive use mitigation policy to assist the regulated community with submitting consumptive use mitigation plans. The document outlines the principles and standards with which staff will evaluate these plans, and also details related to how the Commission, as well as a project, would manage operations during low flow events.
Registration of grandfathered projects – This section requires projects that are exempt from Commission review and approval, due to their operations predating regulations, to register within a two-year window in order to preserve this exemption. The Commission’s analysis in Cumulative Water Use and Availability Study for the Susquehanna River Basin estimates a total of 760 grandfathered projects with an estimated water use of 970 million gallons per day, which is approximately equal to the total existing regulated consumptive use approved by the Commission. The registration program will greatly enable the Commission to accurately account for existing water uses in order to properly manage the water resources of the Basin.
Hearings and enforcement actions – This section adds greater clarity and efficiencies to the Commission’s hearing and appeals process, and allows the Executive Director broader authority in compliance and enforcement issues.
To inform the regulated community and the public about these changes, the Commission held three informational webinars and four public hearings to explain the proposed rulemaking
Webinars were conducted on October 11 and 17, 2016, and January 5, 2017. Materials from the webinars can be found at the links below.
- Please click here to view a recording of the webinar that was held on October 11, 2016.
- Please click here to view a recording of the webinar that was held on October 17, 2016.
- Please click here to download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation from October 11, 2016, webinar.
- A webinar in partnership with PMAA, PSATS, PML, PSACT, and PSAB was held on January 5, 2017. Please click here to download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation. Click here to view a recording of the webinar.
The Commission also held four public hearings on the proposed rulemaking:
- November 3, 2016, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Pennsylvania State Capitol (East Wing, Room 8E-B), Commonwealth Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17120.
- November 9, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Binghamton (South Riverside Room), 225 Water Street, Binghamton, NY 13901
- November 10, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Holiday Inn Williamsport (Gallery Room), 100 Pine Street, Williamsport, PA 17701
- December 8, 2016, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. or at the conclusion of public testimony, whichever is sooner; Loews Annapolis Hotel (Powerhouse-Point Lookout), 126 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401.