What Do The Laws and Regulations Say About 208 Planning?
Arizona Administrative Code
Why is PAG Responsible for 208 Planning?
PAG was designated as the regional water quality planning agency for all of Pima County (excluding tribal lands) in 1974 by the Governor of Arizona. As a result, PAG is responsible for administering the 208 Plan in Pima County, ensuring that a regional approach is taken to wastewater planning. Pima County was as the first wastewater management agency in the PAG region designated as a Designated Management Agencies.
PAG works closely with the three Designated Management Agencies and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to ensure implementation of the 208 Plan.
Why is 208 Planning Necessary?
Areawide wastewater treatment management plans, otherwise known as "208 Plans," are required by Section 208 of the Clean Water Act. In addition, Section 208 states that no National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits shall be issued for any point source of pollution which is in conflict with a 208 Plan. In Arizona, ADEQ will not issue an AZPDES permit, which is the state equivalent for the national permit or an aquifer protection permit. Also, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will not issue an approval to construct treatment facilities that are not consistent with a 208 Plan.
The goal of 208 Planning is to coordinate the efforts of all the water management agencies as they relate to waste treatment planning. By coordinating efforts, duplication is minimized, consensus is built, and communication is enhanced. All parties are provided with the opportunity to be involved in the planning affecting their operation. The process also helps ensure that adequate public input occurs.
PAG’s 208 Plan emphasizes the regionalization of wastewater treatment, and discourages the proliferation of small, privately owned treatment facilities because of potential accessibility issues if adjacent privately owned properties become land-locked. Long-term reliability of small facilities and potential impacts to water quality further lend support to the concept of regionalization of wastewater treatment.
What is a 208 Plan Amendment?
A 208 Plan Amendment is any approved change to the Areawide Water Quality Management Plan. Areawide Water Quality Management Plans are required under Section 208 of the Clean Water Act.
In the PAG region, most 208 Plan Amendments since 1990 have related to proposals to construct wastewater treatment facilities that were not included in the original 208 Plan adopted in 1978. Many 208 Plan Amendments adopted in the 1980s addressed policy changes, pollution source assessments, groundwater quality investigations, and long-range plans for meeting regional wastewater treatment needs.
A 208 Plan Amendment is generally in the form of a detailed document that contains a variety of information that is required by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in order to approve a 208 Plan Amendment.
What Is the Process for Amending PAG’s 208 Plan?
The approved process for amending PAG’s 208 Plan is presented below. The planning process includes participation from local jurisdictions, the business community, environmental groups, public interest groups and the general public. In the case of proposals for private wastewater treatment facilities, the party requesting the amendment must first contact Pima County Wastewater Management Department or the Town of Sahuarita depending on the facility location, because they are the designated management agencies in Pima County (excluding tribal lands). Pima County or the Town of Sahuarita must first decline to serve the area in question in order for a 208 Plan Amendment for a private facility to proceed.
PAG will charge a processing fee for each 208 Plan Amendment in order to recover the process administration costs. The 208 Plan Amendment process is as follows:
1. The party requesting a change to the 208 Plan contacts the jurisdiction where the facility will be located and requests jurisdictional sponsorship of the project. Sponsorship does not mean support; it only indicates a willingness to investigate the possibility of such a project. Jurisdictions in Pima County include Tucson, South Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, and Pima County.
2. The jurisdiction contacts PAG to initiate the 208 planning process. This request may come from an elected official or a representative of the Manager’s office. The item will be placed on the agenda for the Regional Council’s monthly meeting.
3. The Regional Council directs staff to begin the 208 planning process.
4. A "Scope of Work" Task Force is convened to determine the scope of work for the plan amendment report.
5. A draft report is prepared by the party requesting the amendment; several copies are submitted to the Scope of Work Committee for review.
6. The Scope of Work Committee determines if the draft plan amendment report contains the necessary elements and adequately addresses any issues. If so, the report is submitted to the Water Quality Subcommittee of PAG’s Environmental Planning Advisory Committee (EPAC).
7. The Water Quality Subcommittee of EPAC reviews the report and makes a recommendation to EPAC. (This subcommittee usually meets the third Thursday of every month.)
8. EPAC reviews the report and makes a recommendation to the Regional Council. (EPAC usually meets the first Friday of every month).
9. A public hearing is held (requires 45-day legal notice).
10. PAG’s Management Committee reviews the proposal, EPAC’s recommendation, and the results of the public hearing, and determines whether the proposal will be forwarded to the Regional Council. (The Management Committee usually meets once a month.)
11. PAG Regional Council action. (The Regional Council usually meets once a month, roughly two weeks after the Management Committee meets.)
12. Action at the statewide Water Quality Management Working Group in Phoenix (meets every other month).
13. ADEQ approval. Amendment is certified by ADEQ director.
14. EPA approval. (EPA has 120 days to review; if no comments are received, the amendment is considered to be approved.
When is a 208 Plan Amendment Required?
Generally, any change in wastewater service which was not included in the original 208 Plan or its amendments will require either an analysis for consistency with the plan, or a new Plan Amendment. A 208 Plan Amendment will also be required in the event of any change in a policy established by the original 208 Plan or adopted in subsequent 208 Plan Amendments. A Plan Amendment is generally not necessary for a facility modification that will not change the facility’s capacity.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Continuing Planning Process (April, 1993) identifies the following instances in which a 208 Plan Amendment is required:
- When new Water Quality Management Planning Agency or Wastewater Management Agency designations are made;
- When significant changes occur in the service area and/or population figures projected in current wastewater treatment facility plans or areawide water quality management plans;
- Prior to construction of facilities (regardless of funding source) or implementation of management practices which are inconsistent with the areawide or State plan;
- When changes in site-specific water quality standards associated with wastewater treatment facilities and/or management practices are made;
- When significant growth occurs in areas where water quality is threatened by particular activities such as heavy reliance on septic tanks;
- When changes to the State plan necessitate an amendment to the regional or areawide plan in order for the changes to be implemented.
For more information, contact PAG at (520) 792-1093 or the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality at 1-800-234-5677.