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About General Permit #6
The 82nd State General Assembly passed a statute which required the Department to write new rules and a provide issuance of a General Permit to authorize well construction and well services related wastewater discharge when that discharge reaches a Water of the United States. Beginning on March 17, 2010, all well construction, well related service and GHEX loop borehole drilling related wastewater that reaches a Water of the United States is regulated by National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES) General Permit #6 (GP6).
What is well construction wastewater?
Well construction wastewater is the wastewater generated by any well drilling related activity in our state. These activities include new well construction, existing well rehabilitation and renovation, pump installation, test pumping, geothermal borehole drilling, water observation well installation, water well test hole and test well drilling, and other types of drilling that access or utilize the groundwater for a specific purpose. The wastewater generated during these activities can be made up of drilling fluids, groundwater or a combination of both, can be very turbid to nearly clear and can contain geologic materials and chemicals used to enhance drilling. If the well drilling related discharge leaves the construction site it becomes wastewater discharge.
Anytime the wastewater generated by well related construction and services discharges off the well construction site and reaches a Water of the United States, the wastewater falls under the requirements of GP6. GP6 requires the wastewater to comply with the treatment standards and discharge requirements stated in GP6. If the well construction or well services related wastewater does not reach Waters of the United States, the discharge is not subject to GP6.
Why is well construction and well service related wastewater regulated?
Many well construction sites are located near ditches, waterways, or subsurface drainage inlets that may allow well construction related wastewater to reach a Water of the United States. Well construction related wastewater normally consists of diluted drilling fluids and/or groundwater, and contains particles of natural materials like sand, silt, colloids (clay), limestone and dolomite, and possibly various chemicals used to enhance the drilling fluid. When allowed to flow untreated, the wastewater may eventually reach a stream, river or a lake. This can result in turbidity that can affect aquatic life and accumulation of sediments that create undesirable changes to the stream or lake bed.
In addition, drilling fluid additives and other products used in drilling and servicing wells may contain substances that are acutely toxic to aquatic life. These products can chemically and physically alter the water body and cause additional problems like killing aquatic life and inhibiting the life processes for all species that depend on the water. Untreated discharges also impact the manner in which the water is used or enjoyed by adjoining property owners and others who have access to the water.
What well services are included in GP6?
How do I comply with GP6?
Iowa's NPDES General Permit No. 6 requires the development of a well site specific well water pollution prevention plan (WWPPP or Plan) for the each well construction site where the discharge reaches a Water of the United States. When an engineer is used to develop the well plans, an engineer must also develop and create the WWPPP for the permittee. For wells that do not require the services of an engineer, the WWPPP can be developed by the well/landowner (permittee) or by a contractor or agent retained by the permittee to manage the WWPPP.
The WWPPP must be designed to address the anticipated volume and treatment needs for the wastewater generated during the well construction project. It shall include specifications for adequate Best Management Practices (BMPs) to treat the wastewater and guidance for the implementation, inspection and maintenance of the BMPs or controls used for the project. The Plan shall be written and implemented to adequately treat the wastewater before it enters streams, rivers, and lakes where is can create watery quality problems. As the work on the well project is about to begin, the local regional IDNR Field Services Office must be notified using the Field Office Notification Form (FON). For your convenience, the FON is now available in both Word and PDF formats.
The Well Water Pollution Prevention Plan shall take into account items that will influence how the wastewater is managed, such as:
What types of resources are available?
Who should I contact if I suspect that a stream, river, or lake is being impacted by water well related wastewater discharge?
You should contact your local IDNR Field Services office if you suspect a body of water is being impacted by a well discharge. Please use the link below to find the nearest Field Office and their contact information.
Helpful web links:
For additional information about GP6 please contact:
Russ Tell - phone: 515-725-0462, email@example.com
Iowa DNR Water Supply Engineering, 502 E 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319
Wendy Hieb - phone: 515-725-8405, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa DNR NPDES Wastewater Permits, 502 E 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319, or by Fax: 515-725-8202