After six years of advocating on the issue of permit requirements for POTWs receiving hauled-in organic waste, CASA and their members can finally celebrate a hard-fought victory.
The issue began in 2009 with the release of a Guidance Document by the Integrated Waste Management Board (now CalRecycle) entitled, How Anaerobic Digestion Fits Current Board Regulatory Structure. That document opined that Local Enforcement Authorities (LEAs) could consider wastewater treatment plants that accept hauled-in organic waste for co-digestion to be transfer stations/process facilities. Such a decision would require that a POTW obtain a solid waste permit in addition to their NPDES permit and be subject to CEQA and LEA inspections. Challenging this direction, CASA immediately became engaged, and, with the persevering assistance of many members, worked with CalRecycle and the State Water Boards to reach a sensible resolution.
On August 28, 2015, CalRecycle Director, Scott Smithline, approved the Regulations for Composting and In-Vessel Digestion along with the Negative Declaration confirming that they will not create any adverse environmental effects. Included in the regulations is an exemption for wastewater treatment plants receiving hauled-in organic waste for co-digestion, as long as they are in compliance with agreed-upon permit conditions requiring the development of standard operating procedures.
The regulations will now go to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for a six week review period and become effective 30 days following OAL approval. We expect the effective date to be around January 1, 2016.