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NPDES Permits in New England

OMSAP  LogoInter-agency Advisory Committee (IAAC) Meeting

Tuesday, October 16, 2001, 9:00-9:45 AM,
MADEP
FINAL MINUTES

ATTENDANCE
Members Present: : Salvatore Testaverde, NMFS (chair); Dave Dow, NMFS; Matt Liebman, EPA; Steve Lipman, MADEP alternate; and Jack Schwartz, MADMF.

Observers: Bruce Berman, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay; Mike Borucke, MIT; Cathy Coniaris, MADEP; Mike Delaney, MWRA; Martin Dowgert, FDA; Dave Duest, MWRA; Marianne Farrington, New England Aquarium; Patty Foley, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay; Roger Janson, EPA; Ken Keay, MWRA; Bob Kenney, URI; Mike Mickelson, MWRA; Andrea Rex, MWRA; and Steve Tucker, Cape Cod Commission.

SUMMARY OF ACTION ITEMS

  1. IAAC will continue to meet with its original mission statement "advise OMSAP on environmental regulations" until there is a modification to the OMSAP charter which is attached to MWRA's NPDES permit.

  2. October 1999 minutes were approved with no amendments.

MINUTES

S. Testaverde welcomed everyone. The group then discussed the future role of the IAAC. S. Testaverde explained that he has had a number of meetings with EPA and MADEP and discussions with several IAAC members about IAAC's proposed mission change. EPA and MADEP felt that the mission change was too broad and seemed to conflict with OMSAP's scientific role. As chair, he recommends that the committee continue its work as the permit requires, without a mission statement change. R. Janson assumed that S. Testaverde accepts the charter here as written, that the committee will advise OMSAP on environmental regulations. S. Testaverde agreed. R. Janson added that this is consistent with OMSAP's view of the situation. C. Coniaris pointed out that OMSAP feels that the IAAC mission statement should not be changed. However, they feel that it is important to have people from the agencies in the audience during science panel meetings so that they can be on hand to answer questions. S. Testaverde thinks it is not only important but also part of the permit, under attachment T. Until there is a permit modification, he sees no choice but to continue.

B. Berman asked if there is a way IAAC can be more effective in participating with OMSAP and PIAC without a permit change, so that the concerns that you have expressed could be, at least informally, addressed. S. Testaverde replied that IAAC was trying to have agendas that included other issues that were important to a particular member agency. He will continue to create agendas based upon input from the members. He hopes that IAAC will have the benefit of PIAC and OMSAP members present to hear perhaps agenda items that they may not otherwise hear. S. Lipman thought that IAAC was set-up as a resource to OMSAP, and IAAC's agenda was based on what they were asking us, our role was not to set-up another science panel. S. Testaverde disagreed. He feels the goal is to share information among members. Since the charter was developed in October 1998, OMSAP has never asked us to convene, nor has it asked us any questions. S. Lipman thinks that means either OMSAP did not have questions, or if they did, they were addressed by IAAC members present at OMSAP meetings. He does not think the charter meant for IAAC to convene to discuss our own issues. S. Testaverde asked if IAAC should wait until we are called by OMSAP. S. Lipman said yes, as well as attend OMSAP and PIAC meetings. That is what he thought IAAC was supposed to be doing. R. Janson agreed that that was his reading of the charter as well.

M. Liebman outlined an example of a topic IAAC would be interested in. The marine dissolved oxygen (DO) criteria are about to be reviewed by EPA and IAAC may need an informational session on this complicated issue without waiting for OMSAP to convene them. S. Testaverde pointed out that IAAC's role is very broad: "the committee will advise OMSAP on environmental regulations". He does not see anything in the mission statement that precludes this type of meeting. S. Lipman agreed but he does not see it as being consistent with what IAAC is intended to be. He thinks if OMSAP is concerned about the DO issue, then that would trigger the IAAC to put together information for OMSAP and their discussions. S. Testaverde repeated that IAAC has never been called by OMSAP, yet he considers floatables an issue related to the Endangered Species Act that needs to be addressed.

R. Janson thinks holding an informational session of the IAAC members to discuss proposed, pending, or recently issued DO criteria relative to the regulatory effect on the MWRA permit is probably within the general definition of the mission statement. On the other hand, discussions on floatables regarding the Endangered Species Act can be done individually with S. Testaverde representing NMFS and not IAAC, which is an important distinction. IAAC should not be used to push one agency's position. S. Testaverde said that he was not using the word "push", but rather "informational" to inform other members and also to hear how the other regulatory bodies feel about issues.

S. Tucker thinks that IAAC could have had a large role in what transpired this past year. For example: internal requests for permit modifications and exceedances, exceedance reports and how they are managed, new environmental regulations, and discussions on how OMSAP should respond to exceedances. IAAC could articulate what the agencies' expectations are and convey a message without going into the official process of the permit. D. Dow pointed out that with environmental regulations, it is better to try to deal with them proactively and discuss issues, rather than act reactively and having NMFS doing a section 7 consultation. S. Testaverde agreed and thinks it shows that we are working with our sister agencies in a very positive manner.

S. Testaverde asked if PIAC meets on its own or is it convened by OMSAP. P. Foley replied that PIAC meets on a quarterly basis in partnership with OMSAP and communicates with them, as necessary, in between meetings. PIAC also conducts business on its own via email or telephone calls. So there is a close working relationship that is in partnership with these quarterly meetings and happens as issues or occasions arise outside of the formal meeting setting.

S. Testaverde thinks IAAC should be meeting to discuss upcoming changes proposed by MWRA and share that information with the members. B. Berman pointed out that we heard from all of the agencies on all the exceedances and the proposed changes. He thinks there were spirited discussions and OMSAP made informative decisions.

S. Testaverde asked if everyone agreed with the recommendation that we continue our work as the permit requires with our mission statement, address current issues as they come along, and members can bring up additional topics in informational sessions. J. Schwartz noted that EPA has been unwilling to modify the charter language because they think the change in the charter would overlap the roles of IAAC and OMSAP. He thinks either change the language in the permit or dissolve IAAC. He thinks it is ridiculous to meet and discuss matters without being embodied, or enabled through the permit. He believes that unless EPA decides what to do, IAAC should disband. S. Testaverde disagreed. We are authorized by the permit to meet until the permit is modified, to disband IAAC. J. Schwartz does not see this as a functioning and productive committee.

S. Testaverde is bothered that some IAAC members do not attend OMSAP meetings, because he thinks the outfall is such an important issue to the ecosystem. However, this is the mission statement that we have been provided with. EPA and MADEP have said that they are not going to change the mission statement attached to the permit and so he will continue to call meetings until someone makes the recommendation that the IAAC be disbanded. J. Schwartz moved that we recommend to the permitting agencies to either revise the charter language as discussed in 1999 or eliminate IAAC from the permit. The motion failed. S. Testaverde repeated that IAAC is in the permit. We will continue to meet quarterly on the same day as OMSAP and PIAC to discuss relevant issues.

R. Janson noted that following the strict rules of permitting, EPA and MADEP could not unilaterally make a change in the permit. It would either have to be based on new information, or the MWRA would have to request a modification to the permit. When the permit is up for reissuance, then all parties to that process can entertain what changes they might want to make, if any. They may want to suggest changes to the charter language, they may want to suggest that one or more of these committees be eliminated, or one or more be combined. Going back to OM SAP's view, they want to avoid overlapping roles. He does not see any problem in following the DO example discussed earlier, that when there is some proposed regulatory change that likely would have an impact on this permit, IAAC meet to discuss the issues surrounding it. Perhaps OMSAP needs to be queried as to whether or not they intend to ever engage IAAC based on their own initiative.

Minutes from the October 2001 meeting were approved.

MEETING HANDOUTS

  • Agenda
  • October 2001 OMSAP/PIAC/IAAC membership lists
  • October 1999 draft IAAC minutes
  • OMSAP charter

ADJOURN
Summary prepared by C. Coniaris.


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