Montana Ground Water Pollution Control System (MGWPCS)
The Ground Water Program of the Water Protection Bureau (WPB) administers a program that issues Montana Ground Water Pollution Control System (MGWPCS) permits to the owners or operators of potential sources of pollution to state ground waters. The current list of permittees includes operations such as custom metal ore milling companies, petroleum distribution companies, soil remediation facilities, and agricultural producers. The structures from which waste materials are discharged include tailings ponds, waste treatment and storage ponds, spill clean-up systems, and soil treatment cells that potentially discharge to ground water.
The MGWPCS permit program consists of permit application review and issuance and permit compliance monitoring.
The application review process begins when the perspective permittee submits the appropriate application forms and any supporting technical information. The permit is then drafted and the tentative permit, statement of basis, and environmental assessment are made available for a 30-day public comment period, during which time, requests for a public hearing are accepted. Any comments received by the department and postmarked no later than the closing date are considered in the issuance of a final permit.
Permits are issued for a period of five years. All permits contain operating stipulations. Permit stipulations place conditions on how a discharge source is operated or managed in order to prevent the placement of wastes where they will likely cause degradation of state waters. Degradation is defined as any worsening of water quality that results from the permitted discharge. Degradation of water quality is identified by comparing water quality up-gradient of the discharge to water quality down-gradient of the discharge.
According to the rules governing MGWPCS permits, pollutant discharges may be entitled to a mixing zone in which the applicable ground water quality standards may be exceeded. Therefore, the nondegradation requirement may apply at the down-gradient edge of the mixing zone.
MGWPCS permits are subject to compliance monitoring. Compliance monitoring is accomplished by reviewing and analyzing Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMR's) and conducting Compliance Evaluation Inspections (CEI's). Proper review of monitoring reports should determine if all required measuring points were sampled according to the prescribed schedule and analyzed for the correct parameters, by the correct methods. Proper review also determines if degradation of state waters has occurred and seeks to recognize trends in soil and water quality affected by the permitted operation. Please see Compliance and Technical Support, Data Management for more information.
CEI's are conducted to verify that permitted facilities are in proper working order and that discharge stipulations are being carried out. Please see Compliance and Technical Support, Inspections for more information.