Recommendations for Programmatic, Regulatory and Legislative Actions for the Improvement of Water Quality

H-GAC recommends that the TCEQ and TSSWCB work with the EPA to allow for Regional Nonpoint Source Quality Assurance Project Plans. The concept is also a recommendation under the Bacteria Implementations Group's Bacteria Implementation Plan. As more and more local agencies begin installing BMPS and implementing NPS management measures (with or without 319 or TMDL money) the monitoring that will be necessary to determine the effectiveness of those BMPs or projects will require a QAPP. Many local entities (cities, counties, Municipal Utility Districts and other special districts) do not have the expertise or staff to develop QAPPs for their specific projects. If the project is not funded through 319 projects, historically the resource agencies have not been able to sign off on locally led initiatives. Individual QAPPs are expensive to develop and approve. An effort to have a regional NPS monitoring QAPP would save thousands of dollars and help ensure that monitoring techniques and lab methods are comparable throughout the region. Under its current 604b Water Quality Management Planning activities with the TCEQ, H-GAC is developing a Regional QAPP for NPS monitoring that will be approved by the TCEQ's Non Point Source Group. It is hoped that the TCEQ will work with the TSSWCB and EPA to make Regional NPS QAPPs available to entities of all kinds to help facilitate monitoring that will help document the success of locally led initiatives to reduce nonpoint source pollution.

H-GAC also recommends that NPS monitoring continue to be funded under CRP. While ambient monitoring shows overall trends in water quality, smaller scale NPS monitoring will allow CRP to show successes related to NPS controls in individual watersheds that might not be apparent in ambient data.

Stakeholders throughout the region are beginning to ask about emerging contaminants on a more regular basis. It is making the national news and is becoming more and more of a story. The USGS is doing work on emerging pollutants. They have inquired about partnering in new monitoring initiatives that would develop a baseline of data for a few areas of the region. H-GAC recommends that TCEQ begin working with USGS and EPA to develop guidelines for this new monitoring.

The I-Plan that is being developed by the Bacteria Implementation Group recommends more rigorous monitoring requirements and stricter bacteria limits for WWTFs that are located in the BIG project area. H-GAC's Clean Rivers Program agrees with that recommendation and feels it will result in lower bacteria levels in area water bodies.

H-GAC's Clean Rivers Program agrees with the recommendation of the BIG to restructure penalties for repeat violations of sanitary sewer operations. Currently penalties are small and sometimes considered "the cost of doing business". Penalties should be more severe to be a more effective deterrent.

The Bacteria Implementation Group recommended that the TCEQ host a biennial review of OSSF regulations because of OSSF contributions to bacteria levels.. As of 2010, new permit applications include a fee of $10 to be directed to this council. This fee should be increased to $20 for each OSSF by changing the Health and Safety Code, Chapter 367, § 367.010 and its implementing regulation 30 TAC § 285.21. Furthermore, § 367.008 of the Health and Safety Code should award funds through a competitive process to facilitate the mapping, identification, and evaluation of OSSFs.

In addition, the TCEQ is required to provide a model order, ordinance, and resolution that can be used by authorized agents to meet the minimum requirements of OSSF laws and rules. (See 30 TAC § 285.10.) The TCEQ should maintain a list of more stringent local rules that have been adopted. Authorized agents are encouraged to adopt more stringent local rules as appropriate.

H-GAC recommends that the TCEQ work with local entities and the development community to interpret existing policies to facilitate MUD reimbursement to developers for storm water quality features (which may otherwise be considered part of a developer's amenity package and not subject to MUD reimbursement) in their plans for development. As part of this discussion, the parties, including the engineering and development communities, will work to develop criteria which can be used to determine the eligibility of a water-quality feature for reimbursement.

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