State Innovation Grant
                    Program
                   Wyoming:
                   Watershed-based  NPDES Permitting for  the
                   Powder River  Basin
The EPA State Innovation Grant Program was established in 2002 to help strengthen EPA's innovation partnerships
with States and Tribes and is a direct result of the Agency's innovation strategy, Innovating for Better Environmental
Results: A Strategy to Guide the Next Generation of Innovation at EPA (http://www.epa.gov/innovation/strategy).
To support the Innovation Strategy, the 2002 grant program focused its efforts on projects that related to one of
four priority issues: reducing greenhouse gases, reducing smog, improving water quality, and reducing the cost
of drinking water or wastewater infrastructure. In addition,  EPA sought projects that test incentives that motivate
"beyond-compliance" environmental  performance, or move whole sectors toward improved environmental
performance. This series of fact sheets features the State projects selected for funding under the Grant Program.
            Contacts:
Dan Hengel
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality,
Herschler Building, 4th Floor West, 122 West 25*
Street, Cheyenne , WY 82002,
dhenge@state.wy.us
Whitney Trulove-Cranor
US EPA Region 8; Denver, CO, trulove-
cranor.whitney@epa.gov
Amanda Bassow

US EPA National Center for Environmental
Innovation, Washington, DC, 202-566-2240,
bassow.amanda@epa.gov
Background
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Water
Quality Division (WDEQ/WQD) issues individual National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for
discharges into the Powder River Basin (PRB) in northeastern
Wyoming for a variety of industrial and municipal point sources.
The industrial point sources range from coal mining to oil and gas
treaters to coal bed methane development. In an area the size of
the  PRB, approximately 9000 square  miles in Wyoming, the
potential impacts to water quality  from industrial point source
discharges is significant. The WDEQ/WQD, with stakeholder
involvement, has therefore  decided to streamline and strengthen
the NPDES permitting process for the Powder River Basin.
                                                          NCEI

                                                          NATIONAL  CENTER FOR
                                                          ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION

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Project Description

WDEQ/WQD proposes to implement a watershed-
based NPDES permitting  approach for the Powder
River Basin within Wyoming.  The primary goals of
the strategy are the consideration of cumulative
impacts to water quality over an entire watershed and
development of an efficient permitting methodology.
Secondary goals include developing a template for
watershed-based  NPDES permitting that will be
transferable to other watersheds in Wyoming  and
potentially to other states with similar permitting issues
and watersheds.  Ultimately, implementation of a
watershed-based  NPDES permitting process for
northeast Wyoming should streamline the NPDES
permit application sequence and strengthen the
NPDES regulatory mechanism to maintain compliance
with established water quality standards.
The watershed-based permitting project is designed first
to achieve and demonstrate results in the short-term
(1 year), and then to transfer the project methodology
to other watersheds and other States. An example of a
potential benefit from the  implementation of a
watershed-based permitting approach for the Powder
River Basin would involve the coalbed methane (CBM)
industry.  WDEQ/WQD anticipates a dramatic
increase in NPDES permit applications for CBM
effluent discharges in the next decade. A watershed-
based permitting approach,   relative  to  CBM
development, may allow for an  overall reduction in
CBM constituent loading to the Powder River through
a "reallocation" program at the  sub-watershed level
(e.g. higher quality CBM effluent discharged at a higher
rate into LX Bar Creek to compensate for lower quality
CBM effluent discharged at a lower rate into Pumpkin
Creek).
             Benefits of the Project

             The implementation  of a watershed-based NPDES
             permitting process  for northeast Wyoming will
             streamline the  NPDES permit application sequence
             and  strengthen  the WDEQ/WQD regulatory
             mechanism to  maintain compliance with established
             water quality standards.  The watershed-based
             permitting approach aims to improve WDEQ/WQD
             administrative efficiency (reduction in time needed to
             review  permit applications),  increase  public
             involvement  opportunities  (better  informed
             stakeholders), and potentially reduce permit applicants'
             costs (potentially fewer permit applications).
             The watershed-based approach differs from the current
             permitting method  by looking at a cumulative
             assessment of  the potential impacts to water quality
             in the basin. The watershed-based approach builds on
             lessons learned from the overwhelming number of
             NPDES permit applications  received by WDEQ/
             WQD involving CBM in the late 1990s. Implementing
             a watershed-based permitting  approach will result in
             measurable improvements in water quality for the
             Powder River Basin. Improvements in administrative
             efficiency will include quicker  turn-around time from
             receipt of permit application to submission for public
             notice and reduced  operational costs since fewer
             personnel hours would be  required per  permit
             application.  Costs  for the permit applicants will be
             lower because there will be fewer required permits per
             watershed resulting in reduced in expenses for permit
             application development.

             Project Plan

             This is a 12 month  project.
United States
Environmental Protection
Age ncy
Oftice of Policy,
Economics and Innovation
(1807T)
   January 2005
EPA-100-F-05-009

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