Element 5 - Strategic Planning for Future Development

Strategic Summary

This element focuses on the Missouri Department of Natural Resources operating permit functions within the Water Protection Program, specifically, the Water Pollution Control Branch (the Branch). Missouri State Operating permits establish technology and/or water quality requirements necessary to implement the federal Clean Water Act and the Missouri Clean Water Law. The WPCB operates with a permit backlog of less than 10 percent, despite the complexity and challenges of many permits and a lean permitting staffing. In recent years the Branch has develop new and innovated policies, through schedules of compliance and through cost analysis of new  Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) requirements.

The Branch has focused considerable effort towards synchronizing permitting expiration dates on a watershed basis, relying on the 8-digit hydrologic unit. Watershed scale management provides the means for better overall permitting implementation within the natural watershed . The Branch is developing a pollutant trading framework that will provide permittees with additional compliance alternatives.  The Branch will continue to focus its efforts on the economics of small communities who must comply with changing water quality requirements. 

Communities may look forward to innovative opportunities to improve water quality through public involvement and, the process of developing future planning and direction through stakeholder participation. There are quarterly Clean Water Protection Forums, as well as ad hoc forum groups and advisory committees that tackle specific issues. These are vital to the WPP’s water quality management efforts.

Significant effort will be needed to assist communities with declining populations and aging wastewater treatment facilities. Permitting industrial discharges will also require more effort in the coming years, particularly with regard to coal fired power plant facilities. Efforts to implement new steam electric effluent limit guidelines, via permits for process waste and stormwater, while considering other regulatory efforts related to coal combustion residual impoundments, will require additional staff time and resources.  Work to develop a multi-sector general permit for industrial facilities is an objective that would reduce the number of master general permits that are currently maintained by the Branch.  Additionally, the Branch must comply with the federal eReporting rule which will require several information technology projects in order to facilitate the submission of permit requirements electronically and, the transfer of this information to the federal NPDES database. 

Department Community Services Initiative – Fiscal year 2015

The department is proceeding with its implementation of our community services project. As the Our Missouri Waters initiative continues, it focus on specific watersheds, Community Services will be extending specific planning assistance to communities, not only within Our Missouri Waters watersheds, but to selected communities across the state. The department's Community Services Coordinator will lead in the coordination of the various aspects of these efforts and resolves issues that may arise.

Community Services will focus attention on a number of communities whose wastewater compliance requirements pose a high economic burden on the community. Communities throughout the state have been contacted by the department to discuss the challenges they are facing. These communities will be the first communities the department will talk with concerning Community Services assistance.

Regional staff will be participating in the following tasks to implement community services efforts. A community assessment is being planned to collect and refine information related to communities with a population of 500 to 5000, in selected watersheds or, as individual communities identified as needing attention. Once communities are contacted, actions to address community needs may be taken in the form of direct assistance in completing grant applications with the city clerk or in setting up services that address community needs. Small communities will be identified within each watershed through Our Missouri Waters, those communities planning wastewater systems upgrades that are burdened with higher affordability ratings.

There are several steps in the process when creating an implementation plan - meeting with partners to discuss community outreach efforts, informing all potentially interested partners, identifying informational needs, defining best available options for support, and the follow-up with community leaders to confirm the options and the necessary steps in a workable implementation plan.

Engineering Evaluations / Community Assistance

Engineers in the department's regional offices plan to conduct engineering evaluations of wastewater treatment facilities. These evaluations will be done as part of a compliance inspection and it are intended to provide a more in-depth evaluation by providing engineering insight regarding potential causes for current issues and future needs. The engineering assessment will involve the review of engineering designs, an evaluation of the hydraulic loading (actual average flows vs. design), a review of the age of the infrastructure and its design life, a review of the service population and economics, an assessment of the plant’s treatment performance, an examination of the community’s inflow and infiltration issues, and a discussion of future regulatory issues. Not all areas will be evaluated with each review. Staff worked to develop a template by which these evaluations will be made so that these are being conducted in a consistent manner. This will largely be a regional office initiative and is intended to provide cities with information and assistance.

Water Quality Coordinating Committee

The Water Quality Coordinating Committee is an informal interagency and public committee dealing with water quality issues. Representatives of nonprofit organizations, universities and colleges, cities and businesses, as well as state, federal and local agencies, regularly attend committee meetings. Committee participants may also assist in the coordination and implementation of watershed protection strategies.

Resource Grants for Communities

The Water Protection Program components under the Clean Water Act Section 604(b) federal grant, are intended to assist with the revision of Water Quality Standards, risk-based groundwater standards, the anti-degradation policy and implementation method, toxicity testing, area-wide wastewater management prioritization, including planning studies and, wastewater feasibility studies. A portion of the 604(b) federal grant is awarded to Missouri communities for water quality planning.

Communities are invited to submit their competitive project proposals through their Regional Planning Commissions and the Missouri Councils of Governments for funding. The emphasis has been on projects that support community or ecosystem based environmental protection, for example watershed protection initiatives.

Financial Assistance Center - Intergovernmental Cooperation

Funding Clean Water Infrastructure through EIERA Bonds

The Missouri Clean Water Commission, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority (EIERA) are cooperating to maximize the amount of construction that can be supported by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The fund provides low-interest loans for construction projects. As the loans are repaid, the money is loaned again.

Through the combined efforts of these agencies, Missouri can be expected to achieve approximately $1.43 of construction for each $1 of available EPA and state matching funds, at this point in time. This cooperative program to increase the amount of construction is referred to as the State Revolving Fund Cash Flow Model Loan Program. Because Missouri’s construction projects funding needs greatly exceed the available funds, the department continues to work with the SRF finance team to refine the program's structure.

A recent example of cooperation and enhancement of the current program structure is the department’s decision to utilize the ability of EIERA to sell bonds, the proceeds of which would supplement projected annual funding levels. The size of the sale would be based on current Clean Water SRF loan repayment schedules and projected new loans. A bond sale of $130 million is anticipated in the near future. Additional future bond sales will occur as the construction needs and the financial support allow.

This cooperative approach will meet a portion of the additional funding needs. The department will continue to evaluate possible future program structures to ensure the program provides a stable source of funding for clean water infrastructure projects well into the future.

Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Planning

Revisions to the Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan have been open recently for public comment. A new five-year plan will serve as Missouri’s guiding document for nonpoint source water pollution remediation and protection and reflects the department’s commitment to the Our Missouri Waters Initiative. EPA must approve the plan for Missouri funds in support of the Clean Water Act 319 NPS program efforts.

Clean Water Act Section 319 NPS grant funds are used for programs and projects for nonpoint source management planning as well as the implementation of the Missouri Nonpoint Source Management Plan (NPSMP). These funds are limited to a competitive bid process used to ensure that the most appropriate projects are selected for funding. Grant funds must be used in a manner consistent with the Missouri Nonpoint Source Management Plan.

Federal, state and local agencies, nonprofit and environmental groups, and business and industry are consulted throughout the planning process. Representatives from several agencies and organizations are invited to participate in the management plan workgroup to develop strategy and suggest planning components, review drafts and comments and contribute information on their nonpoint source related goals. Public involvement is provided through the public notice and comment process through press releases and the department’s website.

Nonpoint source water pollution sources are discreet and often difficult to pinpoint. Nonpoint source pollution is addressed through the state's Nonpoint Source Management Program, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate, educate, monitor, assess, plan and help implement management practices to restore and protect waters. As section 319 program funding is relatively small it is important to make effective use of the 319 grant funds. The program brings many interested agencies, counties, cities, industry and conservation interested parties and volunteers together to leverage funds and lower costs to any one entity.

Keys to success include program outreach and education through partnership. No single organization has the means to restore and protect all of Missouri’s waters without assistance from reliable and committed partners.

Another key to success is effective use of available funds for activities that restore and protect streams and lakes on a watershed scale. The NPSMP prioritizes actions based on the water quality effort and relative to the Our Missouri Waters Initiative as well as the Clean Water Act guidance for 319 nonpoint source programs. As priorities are established, education and partnerships will be as critical to successful outcomes as will water quality monitoring, and the identification of water contaminants, sources, and the degree of impairment.

The public and the private sector will be crucial to the development and use of appropriate best management practices in both urban and rural areas. Through the Our Missouri Waters active initiative and continued NPSM implementation, water quality planning may be enhanced through cooperative non-regulatory efforts.

Water Quality Standards Development

States are authorized under the Clean Water Act to develop water quality standards and implementation plans to carry out federal requirements. The Missouri Clean Water Law gives the Clean Water Commission authority to develop water quality standards, one of the foundations of the commission’s efforts in the development of the state’s water quality for its streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

The triennial review of Missouri’s water quality standards is both a public and stakeholder driven process that reflects the interests and goals Missourians have for their waters. Input from the public and stakeholders on the content, as well as the environmental and economic benefits and costs, of a rulemaking ensure that Missouri’s water quality standards rule reflects the latest science, studies and interest of the public and interested stakeholders.

Water quality data received from the Water Protection Program’s monitoring system, other agencies, or through special studies and volunteer monitors is used to compare the quality of streams, rivers and lakes to the state’s standards. The department's Environmental Services Program assists with the collection and analysis of water and biological samples. The results of the monitoring efforts are updated every two years and published in the Missouri Water Quality Report to Congress, asreferred to as the 305(b) report required under the Clean Water Act.

The development of standards and assessments are required under federal law. Waters that fail to meet standards are listed on Missouri’s 303(d) list for impaired waters (required under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act) and are targeted for studies and corrective actions to return them to compliance.

Intergovernmental Cooperation in Water Quality Monitoring and Analysis

The department currently maintains an annual contract with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to monitor water quality. Contracts with USGS produce testing reliability of the E.coli analytical methods, the analysis of the nutrient database to assist with the development of nutrient criteria for streams, writing summary reports on data results from the ambient network, and/or watershed level studies.

The department also has several cooperative ventures with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). One is the development and administration of the volunteer water quality monitoring program for training and equipping volunteers and development and operation of a new on-line data base for data submitted by volunteers. The department and MDC also cooperate annually on site selection and sample collection of fish tissue for contaminant analysis. Samples collected by the department are analyzed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The department has recently coordinated with the NRCS on the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) on the location of monitoring sites for that federal program. The department is also currently participating in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA) project to develop a water quality monitoring strategy for the portion of the river upstream of the Ohio River, and participates in an intergovernmental work group to look at databases and monitoring activities on the Lower Mississippi River.

The department has assumed stewardship of the USGS National Hydrography Database for Missouri. This means that while USGS maintains ownership of the database, the department has been given the authority to edit the database to correct errors.

Cooperative water quality monitoring projects, with governmental or non-governmental entities, funded through the Clean Water Act, must have a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) approved by the department. This signed document is an agreement by all involved parties on how the monitoring will be done and the responsibilities of each organization.

The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) is being jointly undertaken by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and State agencies with non-point source responsibilities for the 319 NPS program, as well as water quality responsibilities. Two monitoring components are therefore introduced: NWQI in-stream monitoring and NRCS edge-of-field monitoring. NRCS will provide information to support in-stream monitoring; fund edge of field monitoring in select watersheds and, track progress. EPA will coordinate and support in-stream monitoring and track progress. State 319 NPS water quality agencies will conduct focused in-stream monitoring in one NWQI watershed and may do optional monitoring, and/or track progress elsewhere. There will be different levels of activity among NWQI watersheds. Joint EPA, department, and, NRCS water quality monitoring efforts and data sharing, will result from the NWQI's selected watersheds, will work together to identify and quantify effective management practices in the field and, the overall impact on receiving streams.

Missouri Nutrient Reduction Strategy

The Missouri Nutrient Reduction Strategy Committee, http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/mnrsc/index.htm, originated in 2011, at a time when the Environmental Protection Agency made grants to states under the Clean Water Act, Section 104(b)(3) for the Mississippi River Basin to develop and implement nutrient reduction strategies. EPA requested each group that received a grant to come up with a 45 percent reduction. The strategy itself is a response to the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan that established a goal for reducing the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Gulf of Mexico.

The committee has reviewed the most reliable scientific data available to help guide the strategic planning process. Data from the USGS, USDA, NRCS and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources provided the basis for determining past and current loadings and for framing discussions at the watershed level. Experts from agricultural, industrial and water quality groups worked together in the development of the strategy. Past successes on nutrient-related issues were used to guide development of individual actions, while additional actions were included for development and implementation over the first five years of implementation.

The strategic goal is to create an accessible document by the end of 2014, one that contains the current state of knowledge on nutrient loading in Missouri as well as the recommended actions for reducing nutrient loads. Missouri’s vision to guide the development and implementation of this strategy is quite simple. “All Missouri waters have acceptable levels of nutrients that maintain water quality for all designated uses.”

Joe Engeln, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, lead the strategy development meetings.  Other participants include:

  • Todd Blanc Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Alan Freeman Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Chris Klenklen Missouri Department of Agriculture
  • Colleen Meredith Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Cory Lindeman University of Missouri – Extension
  • Darrick Steen Barr Engineering, Inc./Missouri Corn Growers Association
  • David Carani Geosyntec, Inc
  • Doris Bender City of Independence
  • Gopala Borchelt Table Rock Lake Water Quality, Inc.
  • Graham Freeman Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Jim Gaughan Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Joe Engeln Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • John Lodderhose St. Louis Municipal Sewer District
  • John Lory University of Missouri
  • Joseph Slater University of Missouri - Fertilizer/Ag Lime Control Services
  • Judy Grundler Missouri Department of Agriculture
  • Kat Logan Smith Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • Kurt Boeckmann Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Ken Struemph Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Lorin Crandall Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • Nora Estopare St. Louis Municipal Sewer District
  • Peter Scharf University of Missouri
  • Robert Brundage North Central Regional Planning Commission
  • Steve Walker Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • USDA-NATURAL RESOURCES COSERVATION SERVICE: Glen Davis, Steve Hefner;
  • USDA-AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE: Claire Baffaut;
  • UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI EXTENSION: Bob Broz
  • MISSOURI FARM BUREAU: Leslie Holloway;

Protecting Urban Streams and Rivers through the Integration of Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management

By mimicking the natural cleansing of nature, green infrastructure can address the full range of urban pollutants. Green infrastructure serves to protect healthy forests, lands and streams that naturally sustain clean water supplies; restores degraded landscapes like floodplains and wetlands so they can better store flood water and recharge streams and aquifers; and, importantly, replicates natural water systems in urban settings by preventing stormwater and sewage pollution.

Green Infrastructure through Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permits

The department serves as permitting authority for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program under the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act. The department operates under authority of Missouri’s Clean Water Law and Clean Water Commission.

An estimated 164 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in Missouri are regulated under the NPDES program and as such are required to implement stormwater management programs to protect water quality. One requirement is for the municipality to regulate new and redevelopment projects in a manner that protects water quality to the maximum extent practicable. Requirements generally affect projects that disturb an acre or more of land.

Green infrastructure is designed to take advantage of the existing natural systems and mimic their function during project site design and installation. Consideration is given to retaining and protecting our natural systems such as wet weather streams and wetlands. Protection measures might include vegetated stream buffers and narrower roads to retain natural topography and native plant species. Enhancements on a new development site might include a stormwater treatment train of smaller practices such as rain gardens, bioswales, stormwater wetlands, wet ponds, dry ponds, green roofs or pervious pavements.

As indicated in contemporary trends and technology, sustainable stormwater management can be approached through best site designs and on-site practices that serve to slow, spread and soak the “first flush” of small precipitation events. Sustainable stormwater management is a major shift from conventional stormwater management and is often referred to as low impact development or green infrastructure.

In some cases, green infrastructure is employed to help restore impacted stream systems through Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation plans and overflow reduction plans for combined or separate sanitary sewer systems.

Green Infrastructure in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plans

In some TMDL planning impacted stream systems may be restored through retrofits of the existing stormwater drainage system. Retrofits might include downspout disconnection practices that direct rooftop runoff through rain barrels to rain gardens. Parking lots might be retrofitted to include vegetated islands that intercept and treat runoff, and to include pervious pavement or structural grid systems that can be vegetated yet support overflow parking and emergency access areas.

Green Infrastructure in Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) and Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Reduction Plans

Communities are voluntarily including green infrastructure in long-term CSO and SSO reduction plans. Also, some of the department’s enforcement agreements may include requirements for green infrastructure as one means to mitigate CSOs and SSOs. The integration of green infrastructure into gray infrastructure systems can help to eliminate certain stormwater connections and reduce overall stormwater volume loads to the systems. This can be accomplished through the implementation of small dispersed stormwater control measures that serve to slow, spread and soak stormwater through infiltration, evapotranspiration and reuse.

Similarly, NRDC espouses Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows

Emerging Considerations for Green Infrastructure in Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and Flood Prevention

The department follows emerging trends with green infrastructure, and one such trend is a focus on potential increases in stormwater runoff countered by extended periods of drought, all related to climate change as indicated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA. NOAA indicates green infrastructure concepts and practices, investing in nature to minimize climate risks, play a critical role in making coastal communities more resilient to natural hazards, http://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/green

As indicated in numerous articles and climate change adaptation plans around the world, green infrastructure in stormwater management is no longer an innovative option, but rather necessary economic and environmental stormwater best practices. Benefits outweigh costs. Incorporating green infrastructure into gray infrastructure systems minimizes impact, reduces risks and those costs expected to recur as a result of the environmental impacts of climate change.

Green infrastructure mitigates flood risks by slowing and reducing stormwater discharge, building safer communities. Damage from flooding, including lives lost and property damage, is one of the most expensive causes of natural disaster. Green infrastructure is a mitigation expenditure undertaken before the disaster occurs.

Existing stormwater management systems, designed to control runoff and protect property when it rains, may no longer function as intended. The infrastructure in these systems may prove inadequate, resulting in increased flooding, damage to property, public safety concerns, and impacts to the quality of our lakes, streams and wetlands. Climate change factors are currently being used to determine the design flood for the areas of river catchments. One study assessed the “pipeshed” capacity of existing systems. An upgrade of $56,000 today could have been done for $38,000 earlier and could have helped avoid FEMA buyouts. Consideration was given to the cost to upgrade undersized culverts, for example, in the Oyster River Watershed, NH (2008). If all under-capacity culverts were replaced in a single year, funded by a one-time special levy, the current tax rate would increase from $26.76 to $ 27.18 per $1,000 assessed value – about $125 on a $300k house. In this example, cost of inaction is significant.

Changes to hydrology such as increased surface runoff of rainwater, when they occurr, present risks and uncertainties, and costs. Future adaptation measures as a result of changes in hydrology should be factored into watershed management plans and cost considerations, reducing risks and therefore costs.

For further information relative to green infrastructure consider the following –

Disposal of Wastewater in Residential Housing Development

The Department of Natural Resources has had a residential housing development rule since 1974 with the current regulation effective March 30, 1999. The current residential housing development regulation is based upon a check and balance of our knowledge of the soil/landscape model and its ability to treat and control the effluent with subsurface soil dispersal (absorption) systems. The rule addresses individual onsite wastewater treatment (septic) systems, cluster systems or any combination thereof. The purpose of the rule is to determine the method of wastewater treatment and allows the developers the ability to determine it during the early planning.

The current residential housing rule is being amended not only to follow the EPA Voluntary National Guidelines for Management of Onsite and Clustered (Decentralized) Wastewater Treatment Systems but to ensure it continues to work with the Department of Health and Senior Services standards for decentralized individual or cluster systems under their jurisdiction.

Residential Housing Development and Liquid-Waste Treatment

Residential Housing evaluation reports consist of descriptions of geologic and hydrologic conditions and project-specific information. Proposed residential housing development reports determine a minimum lot size for the use of standard septic systems with specified water-supply sources. Other proposed liquid-waste treatment site reports provide limitations ratings for the specific treatment system planned. For some proposed or existing facilities, GSP also assists with planning and devaluating groundwater monitoring systems. The Geological Survey Program reports are provided to the Water Pollution Control Branch and the regional office to be used for permit writings

Missouri Geological Survey

The Missouri Geological Survey, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, provides geologic evaluations that classify streams as either gaining or losing flow and provides technical evaluations on the suitability of sites for various wastewater treatment alternatives, including subdivisions using septic tanks, wastewater treatment or holding ponds, discharges to streams, land-application plots, and subsurface soil absorption fields. The potential for catastrophic collapse due to sinkhole development or mine collapse is also evaluated for earthen holding ponds.

The Missouri Geological Survey engages in various support activities with the Water Protection Program on enforcement cases, such as groundwater tracing and special contaminant-source investigations, providing evaluations with regard to wastewater streams from industrial, business and agricultural sources as well.

The Missouri Geological Survey provides technical assistance to the water program on geologic and hydrologic issues related to impaired waters of the state. This assistance is expected to include various tasks related to Total Maximum Daily Load development and may include other activities. The Water Protection Program and the department's Water Resources Program use similar sources of low-flow survey data including the U.S. Geological Survey. The Water Protection Program reviews flow data from all possible sources and if necessary requests additional flow monitoring.

Multiple Discharger Variance

The multiple discharger variance (MDV) is currently being developed by the department. The MDV is a variance of water quality standards of total ammonia nitrogen for municipalities whose residents would experience a substantial and widespread social and economic impact due to the compliance with final effluent limits for ammonia. The MDV under development would variance the standard for a total of ten years. Once approved by the Missouri Clean Water Commission and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the application for MDV will be available for minor municipalities with a well-functioning lagoon system.

The MDV requires each applicant to meet the highest attainable effluent concentration appropriate for their well-functioning lagoon as well as developing and participating in a pollution minimization program. An engineering evaluation on the applicant’s current lagoon system is completed by department staff. The engineering evaluation ensures that the lagoon system meets our current design standards and sludge is at an optimal level for pollutant reduction. Therefore, participation in the MDV ensures water quality is kept a level that does not cause pollution to the stream and requires municipalities to work toward minimizing pollutants while responsibly planning for future upgrades.

Integrated Plans

An integrated plan allows communities to develop a sequence of work which identifies and address their highest public health and environmental risks first. The department is currently finalizing the Missouri Integrated Planning Framework. The purpose of the framework is to guide municipalities through the development of an integrated plan. The framework identifies the principles, elements and implementation practices that each municipality should consider while developing an integrated plan.

Integrated planning does not remove obligations to comply with the Missouri Clean Water Law or the Clean Water Act, nor does is it reduce existing regulatory or permitting standards. However, it does recognize that there are flexibilities in the Missouri Clean Water Law and Clean Water Law that allow for the appropriate sequencing and scheduling of work.