RAPID/BulkTransmission/Idaho/Water Quality

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Idaho Bulk Transmission Water Quality Assessment(14-ID)

Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for nonpoint source pollution, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, and Section 401 water quality certification.

In Idaho, the NPDES permit program is administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which means that the EPA is responsible for issuing and enforcing all NPDES permits within the state. The EPA administers NPDES in a uniform manner pursuant to 40 CFR 122. Developers will apply for either an individual or general NPDES permit and the EPA facilitates public notice and comment prior to issuing any permit. The EPA will not issue a NPDES permit unless the developer has obtained a 401 water quality certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Developers must obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for NPDES permits from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if their project requires a federal NPDES permit. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to obtain 401 certification for NPDES permits, and the developer is not required to apply to DEQ directly for certification. EPA will develop a preliminary draft NPDES permit and send a copy, with a request for 401 certification, to the DEQ for review. The DEQ may choose to conduct their own public comment period on the preliminary permit. DEQ will prepare a draft 401 certification and submit it to the EPA for review. The draft 401 certification will be appended to any public notice required for the NPDES permit. Following public notice and review, the DEQ will issue a final 401 certification for the project.

In 2014, the Idaho Legislature revised Idaho Code to direct DEQ to seek EPA authorization for a state-operated pollutant discharge elimination system permitting program. The state program will be called the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program. DEQ must submit a primacy application that adheres to the Clean Water Act and 40 CFR 123 to EPA by September 1, 2016. Information regarding the development of Idaho's Pollutant Discharge Elimination System is available on the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality website.

Developers requiring a Section 404 (Dredge and Fill Permit), which covers impacts to wetlands and other waters of the United States and is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, are required to obtain a Section 401 (Water Quality Certification) from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Corps may issue an individual or general 404 permit. All individual permits are required to obtain a 401 certification from the DEQ. Developers must submit an application for a 404 permit to the Corps for review. The Corps will notify the developer if 401 water quality certification is required. The Corps and DEQ work together to obtain certification for 404 dredge and fill permits, and the developer is not required to apply for each separately. DEQ will determine if the proposed activity will comply with Idaho State Water Quality Standards before issuing a draft 401 certification. If DEQ determines that the activity will comply with water quality standards, then it will issue a Final 401 Certification.

Additional water quality permits and/or requirements may apply if any wastewater reuse ([IDAPA 58.01.17]), septic (58.01.17), or drinking water systems (58.01.02) are necessary for the construction and/or operation of a transmission line.

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Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.