RAPID/Geothermal/Idaho/Water Quality

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Idaho Geothermal Water Quality Assessment(14-ID)

Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for nonpoint source pollution, NPDES permitting, underground injection control, 401 water quality certification, and 401 NPDES water quality certification.

Developers must consult with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to determine Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements and implementation plans if their project will affect impaired waters. Developers may choose to comply with Idaho’s nonpoint source program in order to obtain a Section 319 Grant under the Clean Water Act.

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 401 NPDES Water Quality Certification 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.

Developers must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if their project requires obtaining a 404 dredge and fill permit from the U S Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”). 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.

Developers must obtain an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit from the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) if their project involves the construction of an underground injection well. Developers are required to be able to communicate details about the proposed injection fluid to enable IDWR to make appropriate recommendations. Developers must submit an Application for Geothermal Injection Well and an Application for Permit to Construct, Modify or Maintain an Injection Well to IDWR for review. IDWR will use the applications and supplementary information to consider impacts the injection may have on the geothermal resource and other natural resources. Following review, IDWR will issue a draft permit, publish notice, and allow for public comment. IDWR is required to consider all comments submitted. If the draft permit is approved, then IDWR will issue a Permit for a Geothermal Injection Well to the developer.

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