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Spring 2013

In this Issue:


Solid Waste Regulatory Review 

The Solid Waste Section of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Land Quality Bureau is undertaking a broad evaluation of the administrative rules regulating solid waste management activities in Iowa.  This review is intended to consider the way that solid waste is managed and regulated in Iowa, looking holistically at the entire system rather than reacting to piecemeal initiatives.  This effort is also part of a larger effort to review all of DNR’s administrative rules over a five year period in response to legislation passed in 2012 that requires all agencies to conduct an ongoing and comprehensive review of administrative rules.  

The primary objective in undertaking this open review of Iowa’s solid waste regulations is to develop a simpler and less burdensome environmental framework that will be easier for the regulated public to navigate and for the DNR to administer and enforce. This process will assist the DNR in ensuring administrative rules are up-to-date, meet present and future needs, are plain-spoken, direct, and carry out the laws of Iowa and federally-mandated programs without imposing unnecessary burdens. This regulatory review will result in improved program effectiveness and efficiency, thereby allowing the DNR to spend less time ensuring that applications and reports are filled out correctly and instead direct resources toward increased technical assistance and outreach.

The solid waste section will be following the steps below for this effort.  The time frames are tentative goals and subject to change.

Step 1:  DNR Regulatory Authority Review.  (July 2012 – December 2013) The first step will be an analysis to identify regulations that are duplicative, unduly burdensome, onerous, and unnecessarily more stringent that the federal government.  Regulations will also be evaluated in light of the enabling legislation. This evaluation will serve to clarify which activities the DNR has the authority to issue permits or set requirements for.

Step 2: External Regulatory Authority Review.  (January 2014 – June 2014) This step is intended to provide input from stakeholders in regard to the DNR’s initial analysis.  The goal is to create consensus, or at least understanding, in regard to the DNR’s analysis of our existing rules. 

Step 3: Discussion and consensus building:  (July 2014 – December 2014) This step entails the writing and revising of the proposed rule amendments.  It may involve select stakeholder input in regard to draft versions of the rule amendments. 

Step 4: Propose Revisions.    (January 2015 – December 2015) This step will seek public input prior to submitting the proposed revisions to the Governor’s Office for approval to proceed with rulemaking.  All proposed rules will go through a stakeholder input process and be analyzed for fiscal and job impacts at this stage.

Step 5: Formal Rulemaking.  (January 2016 – December 2016) This is the formal rulemaking process established by Code of Iowa Chapter 17A.

Use of J-Flags in Water Quality Evaluations    

The use of qualified data (commonly called J-Flags) is restricted to statistical evaluation only. For example, two consecutive J-Flag measurements of a volatile organic compound does not qualify as a double quantification and thus triggering a statistically significant increase over background. The DNR prefers an estimate of the concentration for qualified data be used instead of a default ½ way between the reporting limit and zero.

Monitoring after Identifying an SSL  

Upon review of several recent water quality reports, the DNR has become aware of some confusion among stakeholders regarding what steps must occur once contamination is discovered at a statistically significant level (SSL) above a groundwater protection standard (GWPS).  According to the monitoring program established by 113.10, the next steps are to define the extent of the contamination with additional wells and develop an assessment of corrective measures (ACM).  A remedy from the ACM must then be selected and implemented.  The performance of the remedy is monitored by a corrective action monitoring program, and a return to assessment or detection monitoring is allowed only after the criteria of 113.10(9)”e” have been satisfied.

The DNR has noted in some monitoring programs that previously identified SSLs are being ignored as soon as the lower confidence limit falls back below the GWPS.  This approach is not allowed under the provisions of 113.10.  Once an SSL is identified, the only way to eliminate it and return to detection or assessment monitoring is to satisfy the criteria of 113.10(9)”e”.  If you have any questions about the correct way to proceed after identifying an SSL, please contact your DNR engineer for assistance with the monitoring program at your site.

Groundwater Detection Monitoring Parameters

The option to propose an alternative parameter list for detection monitoring is allowed as listed in Iowa Administrative Chapter 567 113.10(5)”a”(1) which states:

The department may establish an alternative list of inorganic indicator parameters for an MSWLF unit within Appendix I, in lieu of some or all of the heavy metals (constituents 1 to 15 in Appendix I), if the alternative parameters provide a reliable indication of inorganic releases from the MSWLF unit to the groundwater. In determining alternative parameters, the department shall consider the following factors:

1.    The types, quantities and concentrations of constituents in wastes managed at the MSWLF unit;

2.    The mobility, stability and persistence of waste constituents or their reaction products in the unsaturated zone beneath the MSWLF unit;

3.    The detectability of indicator parameters, waste constituents and reaction products in the groundwater; and

4.    The concentration or values and coefficients of variation of monitoring parameters or constituents in the groundwater background.

The DNR has not issued an alternative listing to date but would consider approaches such as outlined in ASTM D-7045-04(2010) Standard Guide for Optimization of Ground Water Monitoring Constituents for Detection Monitoring Programs for RCRA Waste Disposal Facilities.

The primary benefit of tailoring a site specific monitoring program is to minimize false positives and the ensuing assessment and potential corrective measures tasks. The cost savings are more likely to derive from the minimization of false positives than any laboratory savings for the detection monitoring program itself as normally parameters are added that may replace some or all of the metals.

Elimination of Semi-Annual Water Quality Reporting (SAWQR) Submittals  

The DNR has recently issued unnumbered amendments to solid waste landfill permit holders that changes the reporting requirements for semi-annual sampling events. Reducing the submittal of the SAWQR paperwork should result in a cost savings to the permit holder, reduces the number of pages being scanned and cost to store these pages in the DNR’s electronic public records system (DocDNA), and reduces DNR engineer review time since this same data is included and reviewed in the Annual Water Quality Report. The unnumbered amendments were sent to municipal landfills that stopped accepting waste prior to October 9, 1994, after October 9, 1994, and after October 1, 2007, and active landfills. In addition the unnumbered amendments were also sent to open and closed C&D and Industrial landfills permit holders.

If your municipal solid waste landfill, is either an active site or a closed site that stopped receiving waste after October 9, 1994, you are still required, by rule, to provide notification to the DNR of any results that indicate exceedances, or levels of contamination at a statistically significant increase over background, detected assessment monitoring parameters, and results that indicate statistically significant levels above a groundwater protection standard. A report is not required and any evaluation for the semi-annual sampling events should be discussed in the Annual Water Quality Report (AWQR). The amendment does not change the rule requirements for scheduling of activities related to alternative source demonstration, background determination, resampling requirements, establishment of groundwater protection standards, plume delineation, adjacent property owner notifications, or preparation and implementation of assessment of corrective measures.

If your municipal solid waste landfill stopped accepting waste before October 9, 1994, then SAWQR and notification of exceedances has been eliminated. Again the results of the semi-annual sampling event shall be evaluated in the AWQR.

If your site is a C&D or industrial landfill then SAWQR and notification of exceedances has been eliminated. Again the results of the semi-annual sampling event shall be evaluated in the AWQR.

Land Application of Industrial Waste 

Inconsistencies in the application of Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 567-Chapter 121 “Land Application of Wastes” to industrial waste by-products has prompted the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to review and clarify the criteria used to characterize a waste for inclusion under IAC 567-121.  To be land applied under IAC 567- Chapter 121 “Land Application of Wastes”, the material must be either a solid waste or an industrial sludge.

For a material to be an industrial sludge it must be generated by one of the following:

  • A commercial or industrial wastewater treatment plant
  • A potable water supply treatment plant
  • An air pollution control device

If the material is generated by one of the above, it may be land applied according to the provisions in IAC 567-Chapter 121 as an industrial sludge.

"Solid waste" is defined as garbage, refuse, rubbish, and other similar discarded solid or semisolid materials. Whether a waste material is solid or semisolid is determined by conducting a paint filter test. The paint filter test is done by placing a 100-milliliter or 100-gram representative sample of the waste into a standard mesh number 60 (fine mesh size) conical paint filter for five minutes. Any free liquid visible below the funnel indicates sample failure. If the sample passes the paint filter test, it may be land applied according to the provisions in IAC 567-Chapter 121 as a solid waste material.

If the material does not meet the criteria to be an industrial sludge or a solid waste, it is by definition wastewater.  Wastewater cannot be land applied under IAC-567 Chapter 121 and is regulated by the Department of Natural Resources’ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Section.


DNR Solid Waste: Amy Buckendahl, 515-725-8350,
DNR Wastewater Engineering: Suresh Kumar, 515-725-8429


IAC-567 Chapter 121           
NPDES information           

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