Proposed Modification to the General Permit for Small Suction Dredge Mining in Idaho | Region 10 | US EPA

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Proposed Modification to the General Permit for Small Suction Dredge Mining in Idaho

Public Notice Summary

Public Notice Issued:
December 20, 2013
Comments Due:
February 03, 2014
Technical Contacts:
Cindi Godsey (
(907) 271-6561

Tracy DeGering (
(208) 378-5756

Permit No.: IDG370000
Small Suction Dredge Mining in Idaho
Summary of Previous Action

On January 22, 2010, the EPA published the first notice in the Federal Register announcing the comment period for a draft NPDES general permit (GP) for discharges from Small Suction Dredge Mining and held four public workshops around the state of Idaho. A second public notice of the proposed permit was issued on May 1, 2012 and public comments were collected through June 1, 2012. The final permit was issued on April 4, 2013, and went into effect on May 6, 2013.

The GP received a certification under the Clean Water Act (CWA) 401 from the State of Idaho but the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Shoshone Bannock Tribe denied certification. As a result of Tribal government-to-government consultation and coordination, the GP does not cover any of the five Reservations with land within the boundaries of the State of Idaho.

EPA prepared a Biological Evaluation (BE) to aid informal consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the Endangered Species Act. By limiting coverage in certain waterbodies, NMFS and USFWS concurred with EPA’s determination that the permit would not likely adversely affect endangered species.

During the 2013 mining season, EPA received Notices of Intent (NOIs) from 162 applicants requesting to operate in 370 specific locations. Many NOIs asked for coverage within areas that require additional steps (e.g., Endangered Species Act designated critical habitat, not meeting specific application deadlines for Grimes, Mores, and Elk Creek) or that are not covered by the GP (e.g., waterbodies impaired for sediment and/or mercury, Tribal reservations). Some NOIs were incomplete and the additional information has not yet been provided. EPA issued coverage for 81 locations.

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Description of this Action

When the 2013 GP was issued the language of the GP contained a discrepancy with the total maximum daily load (TMDL) that was issued for Mores Creek. The GP did not include any reference to the tributaries of Mores, Elk or Grimes creeks that were included in the loading restrictions of the TMDL.

In particular, the TMDL states “[t]his is an industry-wide WLA that applies to dredges of all sizes. The WLA will be established for each designated stream section in the Boise-Mores watershed, including tributaries” (emphasis added). Section 5.1 Sediment page 137.

40 CFR 122.44(d)(1)(vii)(B) requires that “Effluent limits developed to protect a narrative water quality criterion, a numeric water quality criterion, or both, are consistent with the assumptions and requirements of any available wasteload allocation for the discharge prepared by the State and approved by EPA pursuant to 40 CFR 130.7” (Total maximum daily loads (TMDL) and individual water quality-based effluent limitations).

This modification proposes to rectify the discrepancy by including a reference to the tributaries in the GP in the requirements for Mores, Grimes and Elk creeks and listing the tributaries in Appendix F to the GP. This means that an NOI will be required during the timing previously required for just Mores, Grimes and Elk creeks and that EPA will include activities in the tributaries when considering the allocation of hours from the TMDL. Also, the wasteload allocations were determined based on Mores Creek being open below Boulder Creek and Elk Creek being open above Eldorado Gulch and these closures are now incorporated into the GP.

EPA is also proposing to change the timing of Notice of Intent (NOI) submittals for these waterbodies. The 2013 GP says NOIs have to be submitted between January 1 and February 14 with notification by EPA in March. The change would allow the submittal of NOIs between January 1 and April 1 with EPA notification by May 1. EPA is proposing to remove the language on the 2013 submittal of NOIs because it is no longer pertinent to the GP.

EPA is requesting comment only on the inclusions of the tributaries and NOI timing proposed in this action. Comments on any other permit condition will not be considered.

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Public Comments and Hearing Requests
Persons wishing to comment on, or request a public hearing for, the draft permit action may do so in writing by the expiration date of the public notice period. A request for a public hearing must state the nature of the issues to be raised as well as the requester’s name, address, and telephone number. All comments should include name, address, phone number, a concise statement of the basis for a comment and relevant facts upon which it is based.

Persons wishing to comment should submit written comments within the 30 day period to:
Office of Water & Watersheds Director
U.S. EPA, Region 10
1200 Sixth Avenue Suite 900, OWW-130
Seattle, WA 98101

All written comments and requests should be submitted to the EPA at the above address to the attention of the Director, Office of Water and Watersheds or to You can submit a comment by facsimile to (206) 553-0165

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Document Availability

Documents available for download:

The draft permits and fact sheets are also available for review at the following locations:
EPA Region 10 Office
1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, OWW-130,
Seattle, Washington 98101
EPA’s Idaho Operations Office
950 W Bannock, Suite 900
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208-378-5746
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
1445 N. Orchard
Boise, ID 83706
ph: (208) 236-6160
fx: (208) 236-6168
Copies and other information may be requested by writing to the EPA at the above address to the attention of the NPDES Permits Unit or by sending an e-mail to, or by calling (206) 553-0523.
Disability Reasonable Accommodation Notice:
If you need a reasonable accommodation for a disability, please contact John Drabek at 206-783-6506 (voice). TTY/TDD users please dial Washington Relay Service at 1-800-833-6388. Please provide one week advance notice for special requests not related to ongoing programs and services.

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