Fact Sheet #2

Watershed-Based Permitting Case Study:
Permitting Approach

The Selenium Stakeholder Group


South Platte River and Sand Creek (Segments 15 and 16a)

Permitting Authority

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Point of Contact

Anthony R. Congram
Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc.
(303) 286-5890

Additional Information
Project Timeframe

2000 - 2004


~	Through the triennial review process in 2000, CDPHE proposed lowering the
chronic selenium standard from 12 ug/1 total selenium to 4.6 ug/1 dissolved

~	Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., formerly Conoco Denver Refinery, convened a
stakeholder group consisting of two refineries, a municipality, and a wastewater
district in Denver, CO, to discuss the potential impacts of changing the selenium
standards for point sources discharging to the South Platte River and its
tributaries, specifically Sand Creek.

~	The Selenium Stakeholder Group believed the standard change was unwarranted
based on preliminary site-specific biological data and literature review.

~	A change in the selenium standard could make compliance with NPDES water
quality-based effluent limits (WQBELs) extremely challenging (considering
current technological limitations for selenium removal from process wastewater
discharges and nonpoint source contributors).


~	The Selenium Stakeholder Group presented data at the Triennial Review hearings
demonstrating that suspected non-point sources of selenium in the upper Sand
Creek watershed would cause a violation of the lower standard and require
placement on the state's 303(d) list.

~	Based on data presented by the Selenium Stakeholder Group, the Colorado Water
Quality Control Commission (Commission) granted a three-year Temporary
Modification for Segment 15 of the South Platte River and Sand Creek.

~	The negotiation process with the Commission required the Selenium Stakeholder
Group to develop and implement a Study Plan to collect more information to
better understand the sources of selenium in the Sand Creek watershed and
determine appropriate site-specific selenium criteria. The Study Plan is now in its
third year of implementation.

Factors to Consider in Permitting

~	Each member of the Selenium Stakeholder Group had different motivating factors
for participating. These factors are described below.

—D For the upstream municipality on Sand Creek, concerns over elevated
upstream selenium concentrations and potential impacts on NPDES permit
limits motivated participation in the group.

—	The two refineries involved in the group are concerned about future
WQBELs and implementation of a TMDL for a stream in which background
selenium concentrations exceed the proposed lower selenium standard.

Permit renewals for these facilities were imminent at the time of the
temporary modification.

—	The wastewater reclamation district participates in the group due to the fact
that it cannot control selenium concentrations entering the POTW and the
economic and technical limitations of treating huge municipal flows.

Study Plan Objectives

The Selenium Stakeholder Group intends to:

~	Identify sources of elevated selenium levels to Sand Creek.

~	Develop site-specific chronic selenium criterion for Sand Creek and South Platte
River (Segment 15).

Study Plan Overview

~	Since March 2001 the group has collected monthly water column and outfall data
to identify selenium hotspots and trace selenium hotspots up into storm water
drainage systems to identify sources.

~	To support development of site-specific criteria, the group collects a suite of
biological and chemical data from South Platte River, Sand Creek, and on
reference streams.

Expected Outcomes

~	The Selenium Stakeholder Group anticipates development of final site-specific
selenium criteria for Sand Creek and Segment 15 of the South Platte River based
on analyzed data.

~	In addition to the site-specific criteria, the group will draft recommendations and
a report that presents the data and data analysis during the next South Platte River
Triennial Review in summer 2004.

Project Funding

~	Cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $0.5 million, incorporating
costs for consultants, sampling and legal assistance. The coordination of all
billing is handled by the primary consultant, who divides the charges and invoices
among the individual stakeholders based on a negotiated arrangement for splitting
the charges.

Benefits to Date

~	Through collaboration, the group produced successful negotiation of a temporary
modification of the selenium stream standard.

~	Members of the group collected comprehensive data with significant cost savings
due to shared burden of both physical sampling and financial resources over the
duration of the Study Plan.

~	The relationship established among neighboring dischargers expanded to other
issues; in one particular case, a wasteload re-allocation (water quality based
trade) between two refineries was uncontested during the permit renewal process.

~	The process promoted a broad watershed approach to issues of mutual concern,
and provided an effective catalyst to bring dischargers and regulators around the
same table.

~	The Study Plan facilitated the collection of a large amount of quality data, which
can be used in implementing better science-driven TMDLs in the future, not to
mention important ecological data shared with state and federal agencies.

~	This approach provided a medium for adaptive implementation—the desire to
work cooperatively and pro-actively to solve problems outside of the regulatory
realm, furthering efforts toward sustainability.