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In re Town of Newmarket Wastewater Treatment Plant

12/02/2013

Case Number:NPDES Appeal No. 12-05
ELR Citation:44 ELR 41368

The Great Bay Municipal Coalition, representing the municipalities of Dover and Rochester, New Hampshire (“Coalition”), petitions the Environmental Appeals Board (“Board”) to review an effluent limitation for total nitrogen (“TN”) in a Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit (“Permit”) that the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1 (“Region”), issued on November 16, 2012, to the Town of Newmarket, New Hampshire, for its wastewater treatment plant. The Permit reauthorizes discharges of treated wastewater effluent into the Lamprey River from the Town’s treatment plant and includes a nitrogen effluent limit of 3.0 mg/l TN.

The Coalition argues that Board review of the Region’s decision is appropriate in this matter on the following four principal grounds: (1) the Region abused its discretion in determining that a permit effluent limit of 3.0 mg/l for TN is necessary to achieve the State of New Hampshire’s narrative water quality standards for the Lamprey River and the Great Bay of New Hampshire (in large part, the Coalition asserts that the Region erred by relying on proposed numeric nutrient criteria in a 2009 New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services study referred to as the “Great Bay Nutrient Report” because the State’s analysis was scientifically flawed); (2) the Region erred by using the State’s proposed nutrient criteria without undertaking rulemaking; (3) the Region erred in its consideration of the contribution of nonpoint sources in determining the Permit’s nitrogen limits; and (4) the Region did not satisfy applicable procedural obligations in issuing the Permit.

HELD: Upon consideration of the Coalition’s arguments, the Board denies review of the Region’s Permit decision in all respects.