RAPID/Geothermal/Alaska/Water Quality

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Alaska Geothermal Water Quality Assessment(14-AK)

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 ground water discharge.

Developers must comply with Alaska’s Nonpoint Source Pollution control if their project will affect “impaired waters.” However, if the developer’s project will not affect impaired waters, then compliance is voluntary. Developers will work closely with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to determine Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) and Waterbody Recovery Plan Requirements.

Developers must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. Alaska has been granted authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES program within the state. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has primary authority for issuing most new NPDES permits in Alaska. A NPDES permit in Alaska establishes conditions and limits for the discharge of pollutants from domestic and industrial sources. A general permit regulates discharges from more than one facility with similar wastewater characteristics in a defined geographical area. Developers must request to be covered under a general permit. If the developer cannot be covered by a general permit, then an individual permit is necessary. An individual permit is issued to a single facility and its terms, limits, and conditions are specifically tailored to the unique aspects of that facility and the receiving water body. Developers must submit an application for an individual permit, and ADEC will then post a draft discharge permit on their website based on the information contained in the application.

The Alaska Underground Injection Control Permit is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA regulates Class V injection wells on federal lands, many tribal lands, and in some states, including Alaska.

Developers must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation if their geothermal 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. ADEC must ensure that the project will comply with the Clean Water Act, the Alaska Water Quality Standards (18 AAC 70), and other applicable state laws. Developers may qualify for coverage under a general permit, if coverage is not available for the project then an individual permit will be required.

More Information

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.

Permitting at a Glance

Alaska Federal

Nonpoint Source Pollution Process: Alaska’s Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Control Strategy is a statewide plan for protecting Alaska’s natural resources from polluted runoff also known as nonpoint pollution. The Plan identifies existing programs, sets a strategy for implementing these programs, establishes goals, objectives, and timelines for completion of tasks, and outlines methods for determining success. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) is the agency charged with oversight and implementation of the Plan.
Nonpoint Source Pollution Agency: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Discharge Elimination System: Alaska Pollution Discharge Elimination System (APDES) permits establish conditions and limits for the discharge of pollutants from domestic and industrial sources in Alaska. A general permit regulates discharges from more than one facility with similar wastewater characteristics in a defined geographical area (which can be statewide). An operator of a facility that meets the eligibility requirements of the general permit will be authorized to discharge waste after filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the ADEC, so long as all conditions of the permit are met. If the conditions for an existing general permit are not met, the developer must file an individual APDES permit application or petition the ADEC to issue a new type of general permit.
Discharge Elimination System Agency: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
UIC Permit Process: The Alaska Underground Injection Control Permit is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA regulates Class V injection wells on Federal lands, many tribal lands, and in some states, including Alaska. Injection wells are overseen by one of EPA's Region 10 office.
UIC Permit Agency: United States Environmental Protection Agency

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