As a follow-up to our last communication on 1/15/19 regarding amendments to SB 48 (Variances from Water Quality Standards), attached are amendments that have occurred since that time.
The Department wants to thank everyone who has taken the time to provide comments on the earlier draft amendments to SB 48. We have made changes to the draft bill in response to the comments we received from you and the attached unofficial amendments to SB 48 reflect those changes. It is important to note that the amendments strike the entire bill as introduced and that the amendments would become the bill.
We would also like to provide some information on the upcoming hearing. We have talked with the sponsor of SB 48 about introducing the amendments to the bill at the beginning of the hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee at 3 PM on February 13th. The Department will then request that the Committee replace the bill with the amendment and ask the Committee to focus on the amendments and not on the bill as introduced. The Department will explain how the amendments were developed, how they will work, and that the amendments are designed to provide a balance that enables the Board to adopt rules for variances that give dischargers time if they cannot meet a water quality standard while requiring them to take steps to protect and improve water quality.
Please let us know if you have any questions about the amendments or the hearing.
Water Quality Standards and Modeling Manager
MT Dept of Environmental Quality