RAPID/Geothermal/Montana/Water Quality

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Montana Geothermal Water Quality Assessment(14-MT)

Geothermal 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 groundwater discharge.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) administers a voluntary regulatory Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program to control the impacts of nonpoint source pollution. The MDEQ program consists of public awareness, cooperation with other agencies and land owners, and the application of Best Management Practices (BMPs). Developers may choose to comply with the program.

Developers must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. Montana has been granted authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES program within the state. The MDEQ issued NPDEs permits in accordance with EPA regulations and MCA 75-5-402. Generally, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain NPDES permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

The EPA has not delegated authority to Montana to regulate Class V underground injection control wells. Developers seeking underground injection control wells for geothermal activities must receive authority from Region 8 of the EPA.

Developers must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from the MDEQ if their project implicates any federal license or permit issued to construct or operate a facility which may result in any fill or discharge into navigable waters of the United States. The MDEQ has developed administrative rules for water quality certification under Rules of 17.30.101 -17.30.109.

If the project will impact groundwater in any of the below mentioned ways, the developer must obtain a groundwater discharge permit. The MDEQ protects groundwater quality through issuing groundwater discharge permits under MCA 75-5-101 and Rule 17-30-10 for activities that impact groundwater quality such as surface disposal, septic systems, unlined ponds, overland flow, reuse and irrigation.

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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.