Rules and Regs: Golden State Pumpers Hit With Expensive Burden

In this month’s regulations update, a diesel truck emissions phase-in period is underway for pumpers on the West Coast, and lawmakers throw the book at septage odors.
Rules and Regs: Golden State Pumpers Hit With Expensive Burden

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Emission regulations for diesel trucks in California are becoming an expensive burden on small businesses. By 2020, nearly every truck in California will be required to have a particulate matter (PM) filter, with the phase-in period already underway. Any vehicles retrofitted with PM filters by 2014 will still need to be replaced in 2023. 

The regulations date back to 2009 legislation covering diesel trucks and buses, public and private, with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 14,000 pounds. According to the California Air Resources Board, they require that, “Newer heavier trucks and buses must meet PM filter requirements beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Lighter and older heavier trucks must be replaced starting Jan. 1, 2015. By Jan. 1, 2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.” 

Some relief was made available in spring when a few requirements were amended, but Alvin Urke told The Union newspaper his excavation and septic business has two trucks, one a 1979 model and the other from 1991. He says it will cost him $20,000 to $40,000 a year to stay in compliance until 2020, when it will cost him up to $200,000 to buy a new truck. A nearby church reports that it cost them $75,000 to upgrade their bus. 

The new exemptions will allow Urke to run his trucks without the filters, but only up to 5,000 miles a year.

Maine lawmakers throw the book at septage odors

Maine now has a law regulating odors from companies that compost human waste, including septage and municipal biosolids. The Department of Environmental Protection has finalized the rule, established in response to a 2013 law passed by the legislature. 

The original odor limit was 25 parts per million, but the final rule sets the limit at 300 ppm for more than four hours per month, or 600 ppm for three hours a month using an n-butanol odor intensity scale developed by the state. 

The only company in the state doing such work, Soil Preparation, Inc. in Plymouth, has until March 1, 2015, to comply with the law. The firm says it is investing more than $10 million into gasification technology to reduce odors, which neighbors have been complaining about. The company accepts biosolids and septic waste and makes an organic fertilizer for non-food crops. 

The legislator that introduced the bill calling for such limits says she will continue working to change the rule and wants more stringent levels.

It pays to pump in Maryland

To encourage septic tank owners to properly pump their systems, Charles County is now reimbursing them. To help meet its nutrient load reduction targets of the multi-state Chesapeake Bay restoration program, the county has a goal of pumping 20 percent of its septic systems annually. It encourages people to get theirs pumped every three to five years, and residents can only get reimbursed once every three years. 

The county will send a check to system owners once the work is verified, reimbursing up to 50 percent of the cost for most people, and up to 75 percent for those in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Boundary (within 1,000 feet of tidal waters). The maximum reimbursement, however, is $187.50. 

In Calvert County, the Bay Restoration Fund has provided another $1.2 million in grants to provide new septic tanks and system upgrades for residents. Since 2006, the state’s “flush tax” has provided money to replace 462 systems in the county, with another 80 or 90 planned. The county is among the highest recipients of state grant money, having received $6.4 million since the program began in 2004. 

People with incomes up to $300,000 a year are eligible for 100 percent funding, though the grants are prioritized based on such things as location near sensitive waters. The county is trying to replace all metal septic tanks because of corrosion concerns, so those receive high priority.

Shoreline standards proposed in Washington county

New standards have been proposed for residential onsite wastewater treatment systems in shoreline areas of Spokane County. The standards are part of a limited amendment to the county’s existing shoreline program to reduce nutrients released to the groundwater. 

The proposed amendment also calls for the drainfield portion of onsite systems to be located outside shoreline areas whenever possible. When lot boundaries limit the location of onsite systems to within shoreline areas, the systems must meet strict design, performance and maintenance standards, including monitoring. 

$337K approved to replace Wisconsin state park septic system

A state panel has approved spending $337,000 to replace Madison’s Mirror Lake State Park’s septic system, which has failed due to being undersized for the 2,180-acre park. The Department of Natural Resources has received reports of untreated sewage above ground near the trailer dump station. 

A new drainfield will be installed across the road from the current location and sized to accommodate 50 recreational vehicles daily. The park’s vehicle maintenance shed used to drain into the septic system, but such a design no longer complies with groundwater regulations. A holding tank will be installed for the vehicle shed, which will be pumped out and hauled off for treatment.


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