Section 208 Water Quality Management Plant
The updated SEAGO Section 208 Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) establishes strategies and processes to provide regional coordination in developing wastewater treatment facilities and for efforts to protect water quality. The updated WQMP is essentially an agreement between SEAGO, entities operating wastewater utilities within the region, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement these strategies and processes. It is referred to as the SEAGO 208 WQMP because it fulfills water quality planning requirements established in Section 208 of the federal Clean Water Act.
The purpose of this planning effort is to update the existing SEAGO 208 Plan to:
- Assure adequate wastewater facilities in the SEAGO region;
- Take advantage of economies of scale, treatment efficiencies, new and better treatment technology, and conservation practices where possible;
- Identify and address water quality and wastewater issues; and
- Improve effectiveness and efficiency of 208 Plan Consistency Reviews.
The previous SEAGO 208 Plan, adopted in 1994, was primarily an inventory of then-existing wastewater treatment facilities in the region and the 20-year capacity projections for those facilities. As new facilities were proposed or capacity projections needed modification, a “plan amendment” was required to update the regional plan.
Under the previous WQMP, the plan amendment process is both time-consuming, costly and of questionable value, especially when it involves a city, town, or sanitary district. Expansion of a public wastewater treatment facility requires multiple public processes including planning and zoning hearings and approval of capital expenditures by the governing body for design and construction. The requirement for a separate 208 amendment often results in a large amount of expended time and financial resources, with little to no public participation because the project was already well publicized and approved through other processes.
The new SEAGO 208 Plan utilizes a Strategic Plan of goals, with strategies and tactics to achieve those goals. For example, the expansion of an existing treatment facility will not trigger a plan amendment if it is found consistent with the goals and strategies in the 208 Plan. Only those proposed actions that are not found consistent with the Strategic Plan will require a plan amendment. In most cases, the effort and resources expended by agencies needing to expand existing facilities or build new facilities will be greatly reduced under the updated plan.
The updated plan was drafted in 2011 and final edits were produced for ADEQ and US EPA approval in April 2012. On November 21, 2012 the US EPA issued formal approval of the updated SEAGO 208 Plan. To download a copy of the EPA approval letter, click here.