Help limit Manganese pollution in our PA streams!
Help Support The Most Protective Standard Proposed to Limit Manganese a Toxic Substance from entering PA Streams
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has recently proposed to add manganese to the list of toxic substances and to enforce a stricter effluent limit of 0.3 mg/L. This is after many years of study and analysis and this standard is long overdue but the mining industry is pressuring officials to stall once more at the expense of public health.
DRN needs your help to tell PADEP and the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) that manganese should be added to the list of toxic substances at a limit of 0.3 mg/L and that the second point of compliance alternative (at the point of discharge) should be adopted so that all users of surface waters will benefit and the health and safety of PA residents, aquatic life for the stream, and water uses will be protected. The EQB should not cave to polluter pressure now. Public comments must be received by end of day on Sept 25th.
You can get help with a sample letter and send a letter using the form below.
Manganese is a naturally occurring metallic element that is often discharged into waterways during mining and quarry operations. Human exposure to levels of manganese beyond those necessary for maintaining adequate health can lead to excess manganese in brain tissue resulting in symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s disease. Depending upon the length and severity of the exposure, these neurological effects may result in permanent, irreversible damage to the brain. Manganese is also harmful to aquatic life. Numerous studies have shown that the effects of manganese on fish include impaired gill functions and hormonal and metabolic interference. Excess manganese also has negative implications for water uses such as agriculture.
The current manganese effluent limit in Pennsylvania is 1.0 mg/L and is based on taste, odor, and to prevent laundry staining. It does not take human health, aquatic life, or water supply use into consideration and is therefore inadequate to protect these uses. The EPA’s lifetime Health Advisory for adults and children is 0.3 mg/L and PADEP’s new proposal would match this.
PADEP’s proposal also outlines two point of compliance alternatives for manganese – one that would favor the dischargers over aquatic life. Points of compliance are the locations where manganese effluent limits are enforced. The first alternative would change the point of compliance for manganese to being met ''at the point of all existing or planned surface potable water supply withdrawals''. Under this alternative, no water quality-based effluent limits would apply to the surface water if no potable water supply exists or is planned. This is not acceptable. Aquatic life would be left completely vulnerable under this alternative because stream segments and aquatic ecosystems would not be subject to the manganese effluent limits unless they are located close to a potable water supply intake. This harmful alternative would also shift the burden of manganese removal onto public water suppliers instead of the dischargers and only benefits entities holding or seeking permits to discharge manganese into the surface waters of the Commonwealth – mostly quarries and mining operations.
The second alternative maintains the point of compliance for manganese in all surface waters at the point of discharge. Manganese is a persistent contaminant that can be carried long distances downstream. The only way to prevent manganese from reaching downstream sections is to enforce effluent limits at the point of discharge. Under this alternative, the manganese criterion for the protection of human health would be applicable in all surface waters to protect all relevant water uses. The threshold at which manganese needs to be maintained in the surface water to avoid toxicity to humans is lower than the level necessary to afford appropriate protection for aquatic life. Because of this, this alternative would afford aquatic life an appropriate level of protection from the negative impacts of manganese. There are also cost savings by public water systems because manganese levels in source waters would be lower and less treatment would be necessary to meet drinking water regulations.
DRN needs your help to tell PADEP and the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) that manganese should be added to the list of toxic substances at a limit of 0.3 mg/L and that the second point of compliance alternative (at the point of discharge) should be adopted so that all users of surface waters will benefit and the health and safety of PA residents, aquatic life for the stream, and water use will be protected.
PADEP is accepting comments until September 25, 2020 at midnight.
You can get help with a sample letter and send a letter with a few clicks here:
Written comments can also be mailed to:
Environmental Quality Board
P.O. Box 8477
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477
Express mail should be sent to:
Environmental Quality Board
Rachel Carson State Office Building
16th Floor, 400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301
A subject heading of the proposed rulemaking and a return name and address must be included in each transmission.