RAPID/Geothermal/Oregon/Water Quality

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Oregon Geothermal Water Quality Assessment(14-OR)

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 contact the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to ensure compliance with Oregon’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Control program to ensure Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards for impaired waters are not exceeded. Projects with surface runoff might result in violation of TMDL standards and are subject to the Nonpoint Source Pollution Control program.

Developers proposing activities that will discharge pollutants from a point source into state water supplies must obtain either an individual or general National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Permit approval is regulated under O.A.R. 340-045. The permit process involves DEQ review of the application, notice and comment, public hearings, and is subject to DEQ approval.

Developers proposing to construct, operate, modify, or abandon an underground injection control (UIC) well must obtain an Industrial Individual Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) Permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The permitting process is regulated under O.A.R. 340-044. This process applies to geothermal closed loop systems, dewatering injection systems, roof drains and some stormwater injection systems. Applications must be accompanied by a storm water management plan and involve a notice and comment period during the DEQ review process.

If a developer receives a federal license or permit to conduct an activity that may result in a discharge into the waters of the United States, the developer must obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WCQ) Permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). WCQ permits are required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251, and O.A.R. 340-048. No permit is required if the project does not require a federal license or permit, or will not discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. WCQ Permit Applications are subject to approval by the DEQ.

Developers seeking to operate a facility disposing of wastewater must obtain a Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). WPCF permits are regulated under O.A.R. 340-045 and O.A.R. 340-071. Examples of systems that require WPCF permits include: land irrigation systems, evapotranspiration lagoons, industrial seepage pits, and on-site sewage disposal systems. Applications must include a preliminary engineering report and are subject to DEQ review. The review process will include public notice and participation.

Developers seeking to install a septic system must obtain a Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) and a Construction-Installation permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). These permitting processes for septic systems are regulated under O.R.S. 454, O.A.R. 340-071, and O.A.R. 340-073. WPCF permits are required for septic systems with a projected daily sewage flow greater than 2,500 gallons, that handle sewage with a greater strength than residential wastewater, or use technology identified as warranting regulation. The Construction-Installation permit review process involves payment of fees, site evaluation report, and a land use compatibility statement.

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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.

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