South Carolina General Assembly
115th Session, 2003-2004

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Bill 4070

Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)


May 27, 2004

H. 4070

Introduced by Rep. Witherspoon

S. Printed 5/27/04--S.

Read the first time April 14, 2004.




Amend Title To Conform

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    This act may be cited as the "Aquatic Life Protection Act".

SECTION    2.    Chapter 1, Title 48 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 48-1-87.    (A)    In order to provide for the survival and propagation of a balanced indigenous community of flora and fauna as set forth in Regulation 61-68 in a manner consistent with Section 48-1-20, the department may only impose NPDES permit limitations for whole effluent toxicity ('WET') expressed in terms of survival endpoints where, based on the mixing zone authorized in subsection (D), the department determines that a discharge has the reasonable potential to cause or contribute to an excursion of a water quality criterion in Regulation 61-68, other than numeric criteria for specific pollutants, that apply to the protection of indigenous aquatic organisms.

(B)    The department shall promulgate regulations to implement WET tests that incorporate the findings of the study required by this subsection. The study must:

(1)    develop a valid scientific correlation between sublethal WET test results and the biological integrity of representative lakes, streams, and estuaries in this State, wherein biological integrity includes the richness, abundance, and balanced community structure of indigenous aquatic organisms;

(2)    calibrate EPA's standard toxicity testing species and methods to the natural water chemistry representative of the lakes, streams, groundwater, and natural storm water runoff of this State; and

(3)    as necessary, develop sublethal WET testing protocols in accordance with applicable EPA regulations and guidance using fish and invertebrate species native to this State, including sensitivity analyses to validate these native species for use in further sublethal WET tests, and to provide the correlations and calibrations set forth in items (1) and (2).

(C)    Until such time as the department complies with subsection (B), the department may use sublethal WET test failures associated with a specific discharge only for the following purposes:

(1)    to require additional WET testing;

(2)    to require a Toxicity Identification Evaluation;

(3)    to require an instream bioassessment;

(4)    to impose a permit limit expressed in terms of lethality where the department can show reasonable potential pursuant to subsection (A); or

(5)    to impose WET permit limits expressed in terms of sublethal endpoints where the department can show reasonable potential, in conformity with subsection (D), with respect to the specific discharge.

(D)    For purposes of performing WET reasonable potential determinations for a specific discharge and, where justified, setting WET permit limitations for that discharge, the department shall:

(1)    adjust for actual frequency, duration, and magnitude of exposure to potentially toxic discharges;

(2)    evaluate acute and chronic instream exposure based on the complete mixing of the effluent with 100% of that stream flow statistically calculated to represent the lowest average flow conditions that occur continuously for a seven-day period once every ten years (7Q10) or, for water bodies other than streams including, but not limited to, lakes and ponds, other reasonably equivalent conditions based on complete mixing with the 7Q10 flow of source waters feeding the water body;

(3)    use stream flow conditions other than those described in item (2) where justified by hydrological controls that are capable of ensuring minimum flow conditions higher than the respective ten year flows identified in item (2), to evaluate acute and chronic exposure, using the actual frequency, duration, and magnitude of that exposure;

(4)    use, for stormwater discharges, stream flows higher than 7Q10 that are proportional to the rainfall event responsible for the stormwater discharge, with any resulting WET permit limitations comprising only those expressed in terms of acute survival endpoints;

(5)    consider such mixing calculations as described in items (1), (2), (3), and (4) to be consistent with its policy set forth in Regulation 61-68 for minimizing mixing zones;

(6)    provide for, at the request of an individual discharger, setting WET permit limitations based on actual flow conditions that may be present above the minimum flows defined in items (2), (3), and (4);

(7)    show, based on scientifically established and statistically sound procedures and with results validated by independent peer review, that a statistically significant correlation exists between sublethal WET test results for the specific discharge and the extent of adverse impact on the indigenous biological community downstream of the discharge prior to imposing WET permit limits expressed in terms of sublethal endpoints;

(8)    utilize a weight of evidence approach that gives primary consideration to compliance with numeric criteria and actual instream biological conditions;

(9)    show that WET test results are at levels above which there is adequate confidence that test organism survival or reproductive rate in the effluent is statistically significantly different from test organism survival or reproductive rate in the control;

(10)    allow, at the request of the permittee, the use of ambient receiving waters as control and diluent waters in WET tests used for compliance purposes; and

(11)    exempt once-through, noncontact cooling water, to which no biocides have been added, from toxicity requirements.

(E)    The department shall establish formal data quality objectives that define the level of accuracy and precision necessary to correctly evaluate WET test results and shall establish an enhanced laboratory certification program to implement those objectives.

(F)    The department shall disclose, in the rationale for any NPDES permit in which a WET limit is imposed, the number of WET limit excursions that are statistically expected to arise during the permit term due to statistical error, analytical variability, or other factors unrelated to actual effluent quality.

(G)    No later than one year after the effective date of this section, the department shall promulgate regulations, consistent with the use reclassification provisions of Regulation 61-68(E)(6) and conforming with applicable EPA regulations and guidance, to allow temporary variances from WET-based requirements or permit limits for a period of three years, subject to review and, as appropriate, subsequent renewals.

(H)    Any provision in this section must not be construed to limit the department's authority to adopt water quality criteria or to impose permit limits for specific chemical pollutants, and any provision in this section must not be construed to obligate the department to revalidate existing water quality criteria or establish additional water quality criteria for specific chemical pollutants.

(I)    For the purpose of implementing Section 48-1-20 and Regulation No. 61-68:

(1)    'Propagation' means self-sustaining presence and dissemination of aquatic organisms native to this State within their natural environment.

(2)    'Biological integrity' means a measure of the health of an aquatic or marine ecosystem using the richness and abundance of species as the primary indicator, and 'biological integrity' is a key component of an 'instream bioassessment'.

(3)    'Valid scientific correlation' means a statistically valid relationship allowing the prediction, to within a pre-determined statistical confidence level of at least ninety-five percent, of the value of a second variable or parameter from the value of a first variable or parameter.

(4)    'Sublethal toxicity tests' means laboratory experiments that measure the nonlethal biological effects, including, but not limited to, growth or reproduction, of effluents or receiving waters on aquatic organisms.

(5)    'Calibrate' means a process to establish the baseline control condition based on the normal range of biological responses likely to occur when standard test organisms are exposed to various nontoxic waters sampled from streams and lakes throughout the State.

(6)    'Frequency, duration and magnitude of exposure' means a measure of the potential for toxic effects to occur based on the amount of time that an organism is likely to be in contact with a given concentration of a potentially toxic substance and the probability that similar contact conditions will reoccur in waters of this State."

SECTION    3.    If at any time after the effective date of this act, the United State Environmental Protection Agency publishes a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to commence withdrawal of the South Carolina NPDES program as a direct result of this act, the application and enforcement of this act is suspended.

SECTION    4.    Five years from the effective date of this act, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and any interested parties shall submit a report to the General Assembly including a review of this act and a determination as to whether repeal of the act would be appropriate.

SECTION 5. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.


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