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California Waste Discharge Requirements (14-CA-e)

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) may require Waste discharge Requirements (WDR) for geothermal energy projects under California Code of Regulations Title 27. Whether WDR apply depends on the contents of the fluids discharged and the form of disposal. If injection is the primary method of disposal of spent geothermal fluids and all stormwater is captured for injection, WDR may not apply. Additionally, 27 CCR 20090 exempts discharges of drilling mud and cuttings from well-drilling operations so long as the discharges are to on-site sumps, do not contain halogenated solvents, and at the end of the drilling operations, the discharger either, (1) removes all wastes from the sump or (2) removes all liquid from the sump and covers all residual and semisolid waste. However, for other types of discharges, the SWRCB may require a WDR permit.

Waste Discharge Requirements Process

14-CA-e.1 to 14-CA-e.2 - Does the Facility Store, Treat, or Dispose of Hazardous Waste Under Cal. Code of Regs., Title 22

If the facility will store, treat, or dispose of hazardous waste under Cal. Code of Regs., Title 22, the developer should initiate the California RCRA and hazardous waste process.

RCRA Process (Hazardous Waste Facility Permit):

14-CA-e.3 to 14-CA-e.4 - Does the Project Discharge Waste to Land in a Diffused Manner or Affect Groundwater Quality

If waste is discharged to land in a diffused manner, such as that it causes soil erosion or the discharge affects groundwater, the developer must file an application and necessary supplemental information with the appropriate Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). Otherwise, the developer does not need a permit for waste discharge and can continue with the project.

14-CA-e.5 - Report of Waste Discharge (WDR) Application (Form 200)

The developer must complete and submit a Report of Waste Discharge application (Form 200) to the RWQCB at least 120 days before commencing discharge.

14-CA-e.6 to 14-CA-e.7 - Review Application Material and Data Request/Response

The RWQCB staff reviews the application for completeness and may request additional information in order to certify the application as complete.

14-CA-e.8 - Does the RWQCB Adopt WDR, Waive WDR, or Prohibit Discharge

Once the application is complete, the RWQCB staff determines if it should adopt WDRs, prohibit discharge, or waive WDRs.

14-CA-e.9 to 14-CA-e.10 - Waive WDR

For specific situations, the RWQCB may waive the requirement to obtain a WDR for discharges to land. The RWQCB cannot waive Waste Discharge Requirements for any facility defined as a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfill subject to regulation under SWRCB Resolution No. 93-62.

14-CA-e.11 - Prohibit WDR

In specific situations, the RWQCB may prohibit discharge to land.

14-CA-e.12 - Draft Waste Discharge Permit

The RWQCB prepares a Draft Waste Discharge Permit, including the requirements for the disposal of the waste by surface discharge.

14-CA-e.13 - WDR Notice and Comment Period

The RWQCB distributes the Draft WDR Permit to persons and public agencies with a known interest in the project for a minimum 30 day comment period.

14-CA-e.14 - WDR Public Hearing

The RWQCB holds a public hearing with at least 30 days public notice. The RWQCB may adopt the WDRs, modify and adopt the WDRS, or decline to issue a WDR permit.

14-CA-e.15 to 14-CA-e.16 - Does the RWQCB Issue a Waste Discharge Permit

If the RWQCB adopts the WDRs, it issues the developer a WDR Permit. The WDR Permit is valid until the project no longer discharges or until revoked by the RWQCB.

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