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Water Quality Standards Implementation Plan

Statutory Authority, Definitions, Standards, Jurisdiction, Beneficial Uses and Protocols

Document date March 26, 2001 -- Effective July 1, 2001

Section A. Statutory Authority, Required WQSIP Elements

Section B. Pertinent Definitions, Abbreviations and Acronyms for Corp Commission O&G

Section C. General Statement; Responsibility For WQSIP Document

Section D. Pertinent Oklahoma Water Quality Standards

  • Surface Water
  • Ground Water

Section E. Functional Jurisdictions within the Corporation Commission

Section F. Specific Corp Commission Jurisdictional Areas of Environmental Responsibility

Section G. Beneficial Uses

Section H. USAP and Corporation Commission Assessment and Cleanup Protocols

SECTION II.

WQSIP ELEMENTS BY JURISDICTIONAL AREA

Corp Commission O&G Water Quality Decision Level Criteria

Jurisdictional Area

TABLES

I -- Specific Jurisdictional Areas of Environmental Responsibility

II -- Jurisdictional Areas Verses Beneficial Uses That Could Be Affected

III -- Pertinent Water Quality

Decision Level Criteria Used by Corp Commission O&G

SECTION I

STATUTORY AUTHORITY, DEFINITIONS, STANDARDS, JURISDICTION, BENEFICIAL USES AND PROTOCOLS

Section A. Statutory Authority

Subsection B, 27A O.S. Supp 1998, Section 1-1-202 (enacted through Senate Bill 549), mandates that each state environmental agency shall promulgate, by July 1, 2001, a Water Quality Standards Implementation Plan for its jurisdictional areas of environmental responsibility specifying how the agency utilizes and enforces the Oklahoma Water Quality Standards for surface water and groundwater. The Implementation Plan must be promulgated in compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act and pursuant to Section 1-1-202. After initial promulgation, each state environmental agency must review its plan at least every three years thereafter to determine whether revisions to the plan are necessary.

Each Water Quality Standards Implementation Plan is to include eight elements or items:

  1. Program Compliance with Anti-degradation Requirements and Protection of Beneficial Uses. General description of the processes, procedures and methodologies utilized to ensure that programs within the agency's jurisdictional areas of environmental responsibility comply with anti-degradation standards and lead to maintenance of water quality where beneficial uses are supported, removal of threats to water quality where beneficial uses are in danger of not being supported, and restoration of water quality where beneficial uses are not being supported.
  2. Application of Use Support Assessment Protocols (USAP)- Procedures to be utilized in the application of use support assessment protocols (found at OAC 785:46, Subchapter 15) to make impairment determinations.
  3. Description of Programs Affecting Water Quality - Description of the surface water and/or groundwater quality-related components of pertinent programs within each jurisdictional area.
  4. Technical Information and Procedures - Technical information, databases, and procedures to be utilized by Corp Commission+ O&G in the WQSIP.
  5. Integration of WQSIP into Corp Commission O&G Water Quality Activities - Description of how the Water Quality Standards Implementation Plan is and/or will be integrated into the water quality management activities of the agency, including rules, program area policies and guidance, and/or standardized methods of conducting business.
  6. Compliance with Mandated Statewide Water Quality Requirements - Describes how Corp Commission O&G is or will be complying with mandated statewide requirements affecting water quality developed by other state environmental agencies, including (but not limited to), total maximum daily load (TMDL) development, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution prevention programs, Oklahoma Water Quality Standards (OWQS), OWQS implementation procedures, and the Continuing Planning Process (CPP) document.
  7. Public and Interagency Participation Summary of written comments and testimony received relative to all public meetings held for the purpose of providing public participation relating to the WQSIP, and new rules related to the WQSIP
  8. Evaluation of Effectiveness of Agency Activities - Description of methods and means to evaluate the effectiveness of activities conducted pursuant to WQSIP to achieve Water Quality Standards

To the extent the required elements or items listed above will not result in a rule as defined by the Administrative Procedures Act, that information will be listed in the WQSIP. The Guidance Document of Technical Measures, which covers the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Oil & Gas Conservation Divisions pollution prevention rules that do not specifically reference or use the states water quality standards, is available from the PA/UIC department upon request, as are the other guidance documents referenced in the WQSIP. The partial listing of Conservation Division rules in these guidance documents is not intended to be an exhaustive notation. Compliance with specific areas of the Conservation Division's jurisdiction requires compliance with rules applicable to those operations, which are found in the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Oil and Gas Conservation rules, OAC 165 Chapter 10.

Section B. Pertinent Definitions, Abbreviations and Acronyms for Corp Commission O&G

  • 40 CFR means Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • 104 means Section 104 of the CWA, which provides federal grants for water quality management activities & projects
  • 106 means Section 106 of the CWA, which provides annual grants for water quality management activities (especially for groundwater) and special projects. Currently administered by DEQ
  • 303 means Section 303 of the CWA , which requires states to review and, as necessary, revise their water quality standards at least every three year
  • 303(d) means Section 303(d) of the CWA , which requires states to identify waters that do not or are not expected to meet applicable water quality standards (this is sometimes referred to as the 303(d) List). States must also establish priority rankings for the listed waters, taking into account pollution severity and designated beneficial uses of the waters. State must develop TMDLs for waters on this list according to priority rankings
  • 303(e) means Section 303(e) of the CWA, which requires each state to prepare a CPP document. See also CPP
  • 305 (b) means Section 305(b) of the CWA, which provides the process for and requires the preparation and submittal of a Water Quality Assessment Report (sometimes referred to as the 305(b) Report) by each state. This process was established as a means for the EPA and Congress to determine the status of the Nations waters
  • 319 means Section 319 of the CWA, which requires development of a State Assessment Report and a Management Program for Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution problems. The Assessment Report describes the nature, extent, and effects of NPS pollution in each state, as well as the causes and sources of such pollution. The Management Program describes what a state intends to accomplish in the next four-year period to address NPS pollution problems
  • 319h means the Grant Program under section 319h of the CWA, the funds from which are currently going to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission
  • Appendix A means Appendix A of the OWQS, OAC 785:45, which has the designated beneficial uses of all major and some smaller water bodies listed in Table 1 of the Appendix. For some water bodies I, II, or III (for the water bodies Appendix C Class) is posted under Agricultural uses in Table I; the TDS, chloride, and sulfate water quality standards for the rest of the water bodies listed in Table I default to their Appendix F values
  • Appendix F means Appendix F of the OWQS, OAC 785:45, which lists the three classes (I, II, and III) of agricultural water bodies based on the total levels of cations and anions present. Class I water bodies must be under 700 mg/l TDS, Class II from 700 to 2100 mg/l, and Class III allows over 2100 mg/l.
  • Appendix A means Appendix F of the OWQS, OAC 785:45, which has historic values for TDS, chloride, and sulfate by watershed for most of the watersheds in the state. For many watersheds, both a mean standard (the average value not to be exceeded) and a higher individual sample standard are listed
  • Aquifer means a geological formation or part of a formation or sedimentary zone or fracture system that is capable of yielding a significant amount of water to a well or a spring (at least 1 gallon per minute sustained yield) that is sufficient for year round daily domestic use, or for seasonal agricultural use
  • Background means either
  1. the normal level of a substance(s), which is characterized by determining the concentration(s) upstream (for surface waters) or hydraulically up gradient (for groundwater) to the potential source of a substance(s) being investigated, or
  2. 2) the background water quality around a site, measured as TDS, which is used to determine if the surface or ground water is a resource to be protected (<3000 ppm TDS), or if it is unusable by people (3000 ppm TDS)
  • BMP means Best Management Practice(s): , a technique determined to be the most effective, practical means of preventing or reducing discharges from a site or across a watershed to achieve water quality goals. The term is generally applied in the context of NPS pollution
  • BPJ means Best Professional Judgment
  • BTEX benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes, light end petroleum components common in condensate and gasoline and present in lower percentages in other petroleum compounds such as crude oil and diesel
  • BUMP means Beneficial Use Monitoring Program , a program developed by the OWRB pursuant to 27A O.S. Supp 1998, Section 1-3-101, for monitoring the states surface and groundwater quality for the purpose of determining compliance with the WQS and the effectiveness of water quality management activities. Streams with substances allegedly from entities and/or activities regulated by Corp Commission O&G have been included in the rotating BUMP programs for 1999-2001
  • Contamination means the presence at excessive, unhealthy, and/or potentially damaging levels of a material or substance. For the purposes of the WQSIP, this means that levels of a substance exceeding water quality standards and/or threatening or causing beneficial use impairments are in or affecting a state water body (see Waters of the State)
  • Corp Commission means the Oklahoma Corporation Commission
  • CPP means the Continuing Planning Process document, submitted by the state to the EPA, which describes present and planned water quality management programs and the strategy used by the State in conducting these programs. Information on how the state utilizes the WQS and WQS Implementation Criteria are contained in this document
  • CSW means Culturally Significant Waters identified by recognized Tribal authorities as critical to maintaining the waters utility for cultural, historic, recreational or ceremonial uses.
  • CWA means Clean Water Act and amendments thereto
  • CWAC as defined in OAC 785:45, means Cool Water Aquatic Community, a subcategory of the beneficial use category Fish and Wildlife Propagation where the water quality, water temperature and habitat are adequate to support warm water-intolerant climax fish communities and includes an environment suitable for the full range of cool water bentho
  • DEQ means the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
  • DRO means Diesel Range Organics, a measure of the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the C12 - C38 arrange, measured according to modified EPA methods 8020/8100
  • EPA means Environmental Protection Agency
  • EPA Region 6 means the EPA Region 6 office in Dallas, Texas. Oklahoma is in Region 6
  • Field Ops means the Field Operations section of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Oil & Gas Conservation Division
  • Fish and Wildlife Propagation means the WQS beneficial use designation for promoting fish and wildlife propagation for the fishery classifications of HLAC, WWAC, CWAC and Trout Fishery
  • Fish Consumption means the WQS beneficial use designation for the protection of human health for the consumption of fish flesh
  • Free Product means the finding of measurable levels of oil or condensate floating on water at the surface or in a (monitoring or drinking water) well
  • GRO means Gasoline Range Organics, a measure of the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the C6-C12 range, measured according to modified EPA methods8015/8020
  • Heavy Metals Specific metals listed with the 126 pollutants defined as toxic pollutants pursuant to Section 307 of the CWA, specifically those listed at 40 CFR 122, Appendix D, Tables II and III. Those heavy metals associated with activities regulated by Corp Commission O&G mainly include but are not limited to Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, and Mercury
  • HLAC as defined in OAC 785:45, means Aquatic Community, a subcategory of the beneficial use category Fish and Wildlife Propagation where the water chemistry and/or habitat are not adequate to support a warm water aquatic community (WWAC).In Oklahoma, this is often an intermittent stream which goes dry seasonally
  • HQW means High Quality Water, defined as those waters of the state which possess existing water quality which exceeds that necessary to support the propagation of fishes, shellfishes, wildlife, and recreation in and on the water. HQWs must receive special protection against degradation
  • HSA means Hydrologic ally Sensitive Area, defined as an area in
  • Hydro logically Vulnerable which the surface or ground water could easily be polluted by a spill. HSA or hierologically vulnerable areas include the recharge zone of an aquifer (especially aquifers shown to be vulnerable, from surface activities with the potential to contaminate groundwater, by the OWRB in OWRB Technical Report 99-1, Statewide Groundwater Vulnerability Map of Oklahoma), alluvium or terrace deposits, and other permeable zones close to or hydrologically connected to a surface water body or on an aquifer recharge area
  • Land Application means the application of substances including drilling mud, cuttings, waste crude oil and condensate, salt water, pit sludge, refined product wastes, pipeline waste and sludge, tank bottoms, and other allowed spilled/released materials and/or soils containing these substances to the land, at approved rates within the capacity of the land to handle without damage, for the purpose of disposal or land treatment; also known as soil farming, as governed by Corp Commission O&G rules OAC 165:10-7-26, 165:10-7-27, 165:10-7-28, and/or 165:10-7-29
  • Migration Pathway means a route by which substances can move from the source to a receptor. A pathway can be a) natural, via soil or bedrock porosity, moving with ground or surface water, through the air, and via fracture zones, or b) a man made conduit such as along an underground utility line
  • Mud, drilling mud means any mixture of water and clay or other material as is used by the oil & gas industry in the drilling of wells
  • Nonpoint Source means a source without a well defined point of origin or a single identifiable origin such as an outfall pipe, often involving the overland flow of substances with storm water or the subsurface flow of chemicals with groundwater over a wide area
  • Nonpoint Source Pollutants Excess sediment, petroleum products (either visible or measured as BTEX, GRO, and DRO) from sources such as crude oil and gasoline, and brine components (salinity) are some of the substances often associated with the exploration for and production of oil and gas that can cause pollution and are thus of concern to Corp Commission O&G
  • NPDES means the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, as authorized by Section 402 of the CWA. The DEQ has received delegation of the NPDES program in Oklahoma for most point sources; the EPA has retained permitting authority for jurisdictional areas related to agriculture and the oil and gas industry
  • NPS means nonpoint source see above
  • OAC means Oklahoma Administrative Code
  • OCC means Oklahoma Conservation Commission
  • ODA means Oklahoma Department of Agriculture
  • ODM means Oklahoma Department of Mines
  • ODW means Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
  • OERB means the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board , which is voluntarily funded by oil & gas producers and royalty owners
  • O&G means the Gas Conservation Division of Corp Commission
  • ORBCA means Oklahoma Risk Based Corrective Action , the form of RBCA adopted by the PST Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission see RBCA
  • Order refers to an Interim Order or Consent Order, issued following a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
  • ORW means Outstanding Resource Water, defined as a water of the state which constitutes an outstanding resource or is of exceptional recreational and/or ecological significance. ORWs must receive special protection against degradation
  • OSHA means the Occupational Safety and Health Act and amendments thereto
  • OSU lab means the Oklahoma State University Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory, which analyzes soil and irrigation water samples for a wide variety of cations, anions, Total Soluble Salts, and related compounds from alleged spill or pollution sites for Corp Commission O&G. The lab also analyzes stream water samples for Corp Commission O&Gs NPS stream sampling program
  • OWQMC means the Oklahoma Water Quality Monitoring Council, consisting of 25 representatives from state agencies, tribes, federal agencies, academia, and other state water quality stakeholder groups
  • OWRB means the Oklahoma Water Resources Board
  • PA/UIC means the Pollution Abatement/UIC Department within the Oil & Gas Conservation Division of Corp Commission consisting of the Pollution Abatement
  • Pathway means the route(s) or media via which various substances can reach receptors, or reach a receptor point or location such as a well where receptors are exposed to the substances. Pathways can include both natural routes through water, soil, and air, and manmade conduits
  • PBCR means Primary Body Contact Recreation, a WQS beneficial use designation
  • Plan Water Quality Standards Implementation Plan
  • Plug means the closing off, in a manner proscribed by the Corporation Commission, of all oil, gas, and water bearing formations in any producing or non-producing wellbore before such well is abandoned
  • Plume means the substances impact area within a surface water body or ground water area, generally moving downstream or down-gradient from the source
  • Pollutant means any material or substance that is present at levels (as per the WQS and USAP) which may cause pollution
  • Pollution means (for Corp Commission O&G) the contamination of fresh water or soil, either surface or subsurface, by salt water, mineral brines, waste oil, oil, gas, and/or other deleterious substances produced from or obtained or used in connection with the drilling, development, producing, refining, transporting, or processing of oil or gas within the State of Oklahoma
  • Point Source means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance from which substances are or may be discharged such as a discharge pipe (see also definition in OAC 785:45)
  • PPWS means Public and Private Water Supply, a WQS beneficial use designation for the protection of human health for the consumption of water and consumption of fish flesh and water. Not synonymous with primary and secondary drinking water standards
  • ppb means parts per billion , the milligrams of a substance per 1,000 kilograms of solid material (usually soil) or the milligrams of the substance per 1000 liters of water (for dissolved substances)
  • ppm means parts per million, the milligrams of a substance per kilogram of solid material (usually soil) or the milligrams of substance per liter of water (for dissolved substances)
  • Property Assessments means a site investigation using soil and water sampling done to determine whether or not there is pollution on a certain property. This is often done by a potential property buyer or company merger partner to determine whether or not they are acquiring polluted property, but may also be done by the owner or lessee of property to determine their possible pollution liabilities. The actual source of the pollution and when the spill/release occurred may not be known or determinable. Pollution cases arising from Property Assessments are assigned to the PA section
  • PST means the Petroleum Storage Tank Division of the Corporation Commission
  • RBCA means Risk Based Corrective Action, a methodology for 1) determining the risks to health from specific (analytically measured) concentrations of petroleum compounds in various media (soil, water, air) at specified locations, and 2) determining the cleanup standards to be used and the remediation necessary at pollution sites
  • RCRA means the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and amendments thereto
  • Receptor means a living organism that can be sickened, injured or killed by any polluting substances released. While the Oklahoma Water Quality Standards regulate what levels of various substances can be allowed in state water bodies, these water bodies can only be receptor locations of the substances, and are not themselves receptors as Corp Commission uses the term
  • Receptor point (or location) means the point or area where a receptor is exposed to various substances by, for example, inhaling vapors, touching or ingesting contaminated soil, or swimming in or drinking polluted water
  • RFA means Request for Assistance, when the Field Operations section requests assistance on complex and/or water related pollution and spill cases from staff in the Pollution Abatement section. Some of these cases are directly assigned to PA staff for oversight, as are cases arising from Phase I or II property assessments
  • Remediation means the removal of pollutants from soil and/or water by absorption, excavation, pumping, natural attenuation, biological, chemical, or other means or combination of methods
  • RP means Responsible Party, the company or other entity legally and financially responsible for cleaning up a spill or other conditions of soil or water constituting pollution
  • SEL means the State Environmental Laboratory of the DEQs Customer Services Division
  • Spill means the unpermitted or unauthorized surface or subsurface release of substances including but not limited to petroleum (gasoline, diesel, crude oil and/or condensate), brine, or drilling mud
  • SWS means Sensitive Water Supply, defined as a water body which constitutes a sensitive public and private water supply
  • TDS means Total Dissolved Solids, measured dried at 180 C in a laboratory analytical test or measured in the field with a conductivity meter calibrated to read as TDS
  • TMDL means Total Maximum Daily Load, a written, pollutant-specific and water body-specific plan establishing pollutant loads for point and nonpoint sources, incorporating safety reserves, to ensure that a specific water body will attain and maintain the water quality necessary to support existing and designated beneficial uses. The term also includes consideration of increases in pollutant loads
  • TPH means Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, found in soil or water by laboratory analyses using DEQ and/or EPA defined methods. GRO and DRO are often summed as TPH, even though the overlap in their analytical ranges and the omission of the (low percent by weight) higher carbon number compounds in DRO analyses makes this inexact
  • TSS means Total Soluble Salts, the total amount of salts, ppm, dissolved in water according to laboratory (OSU) testing
  • UAA means Use Attainability Analysis, an investigation by OWRB of whether a WWAC or CWAC sub categorization (for the Fish and Wildlife Propagation beneficial use) is reasonably attainable. HLAC sub categorization of a water body requires a UAA prior to adoption
  • UIC means Underground Injection Control
  • USAP means Use Support Assessment Protocols, defining how sampling and other data shall be used to determine whether or not a water body is meeting water quality standards and its beneficial uses, as defined at OAC 785:46, Subchapter 15
  • USFWS means the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • USGS means the United States Geological Survey
  • Waters of the State means all streams, lakes, ponds, marshes, watercourses, waterways, wells, springs, irrigation systems, drainage systems, and all other bodies or accumulations of water, surface and underground, natural or artificial, public or private, which are contained within, flow through, or border upon this State or any portion thereof (82:1084.2(3))
  • WQMP means Water Quality Management Plan, a statewide plan incorporating the various water quality management program elements under the CWA. Sometimes referred to as the 208 Plan. Water quality management plans are also developed by designated area-wide planning agencies
  • WQS (or OWQS) means the Oklahoma Water Quality Standards, established pursuant to Section 303 of the CWA, and which serve as goals for water quality management planning and benchmark criteria for the NPDES/OPDES permitting process. Water Quality Standards consist of beneficial use classifications for navigable waters, water quality criteria to support those uses, and an antidegradation policy statement. Oklahoma's Water Quality Standards are found at OAC 785:45
  • WQS Implementation Criteria means Water Quality Standards Implementation Criteria, procedures used to implement the WQS. Some WQS Implementation Criteria including USAP are found at OAC 785:46
  • WQSIP means Water Quality Standards Implementation Plan
  • WWAC as defined in OAC 785:45, means Warm Water Aquatic Community, a subcategory of the beneficial use category Fish and Wildlife Propagation where the water quality and habitat are adequate to support climax fish communities and includes an environment suitable for the full range of warm water benthos

Section C - General Statement; Responsibility For WQSIP Document

Programs within the Corporation Commissions environmental regulatory authority will be managed to minimize the possibility of contact between regulated substances (including liquid petroleum, natural gas, brine, drilling mud, and drill cuttings) and the fresh waters of the state, and to oversee remediation efforts when problems are found.

This WQSIP was prepared by the NPS Coordinator and reviewed by staff in the Pollution Abatement section of the Oil & Gas Conservation Division and by the Deputy General Counsel for Oil & Gas. There are a few issues, such as exactly how a hydrogeologic basins groundwater vulnerability level will be considered by Corp Commission O&G in its UIC, land application, and/or pit construction rules and policies, and whether revised or additional erosional and runoff rules are appropriate, that have not yet been addressed by Corp Commission O&G. If any changes to these rules are necessary, they will be included in a future revision of the WQSIP and rules.

Section D. Pertinent Oklahoma Water Quality Standards

  1. Surface Water
    Pursuant to Section 303 of the CWA, Oklahoma's surface water quality standards are promulgated by the OWRB at OAC 785:45, Subchapter 5 Surface water quality standards are comprised of three elements:
    1. Beneficial uses, ,designated to apply to specific water bodies or defined water body segments, as listed in Appendix A to OAC 785:45, and which generally address the goals of the CWA. Certain default beneficial uses are assumed for waters not listed in Appendix A until a UAA may indicate otherwise. The subset of beneficial uses which address water quality (as opposed to quantity) are
      • Public and Private Water Supply (PPWS) (OAC 785:45-5-10);
      • Fish and Wildlife Propagation (F&W) (OAC 785:45-5-12), according to one of four fishery subcategories:
      • Habitat-Limited Aquatic Community (HLAC)
      • Warm Water Aquatic Community (WWAC)
      • Cool Water Aquatic Community (CWAC)
      • Trout Fishery (Put and Take)
      • Agriculture (Ag) (OAC 785:45-5-13);
      • Primary Body Contact Recreation (PBCR) (OAC 785:45-5-16);
      • Secondary Body Contact Recreation (OAC 785:45-5-17);
      • Fish Consumption (OAC 785:45-5-20)
    2. Numerical and narrative criteria (OAC 785:45-5) apply statewide. Numerical criteria are substance-specific and apply to a water body according to its beneficial uses in accordance with OAC 785:45. Narrative criteria are generally referred to as free from prohibitions.
      • Numerical salinity water quality standards have been set only for agricultural beneficial uses (irrigation and watering livestock). Stream segment averages of historic data for chlorides, sulfates, and TDS are available in Appendix F for most stream segments statewide. The WQS also allows for use of upstream/background data and data from surrounding streams instead of these averages if this data provides a more appropriate basis for setting standards for a specific stream (OAC 785:45-5-13(f&g).
      • OAC 785:45-5-13 (e) states that Increased mineralization from other elements such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and their associated anions shall be maintained at or below a level that will not restrict ANY BENEFICIAL USE, which OWRB interprets as meaning that neither salinity nor other minerals shall be allowed to impair the PPWS, F&W, PBCR, and other beneficial uses listed for streams in the WQS. Even though there are no numerical standards for salinity set for these other beneficial uses, it is Corp Commission O&Gs goal to act within its regulatory authority so as to protect such uses from adverse impacts, including the setting of site specific numerical water quality criteria.
      • Oklahoma WQS contain numeric standards for some of the common components of petroleum (e.g. benzene, ethylbenzene, and toluene) known to have adverse health effects which can be used as indicators of the presence of petroleum for PPWS and F&W (toxicity to aquatic life and toxicity of fish flesh to humans)beneficial uses. Corp Commission O&G has set risk-based criteria for some of the other petroleum compounds with no numeric standards. Narrative criteria including no visible oil also apply
      • Excess sediment impacts may be addressed through the numeric turbidity standards established for F&W metal numerical WQ standards have been set by OWRB for many beneficial uses
      • water quality anti-degradation policy, which applies statewide and is, consistent with the goals of the CWA, is found at OAC 785:45, Subchapter 3. Anti-degradation policy implementation is found at OAC 785:45-5-25 and OAC 785:46, Subchapter 13. There are three levels of protection:
        • Attainment or maintenance of existing or designated beneficial uses (Tier 1).
        • Maintenance of beneficial uses and water quality in higher quality waters and sensitive water supplies of the state, as well as in waters of ecological and/or recreational significance (Tier 2).
        • Prohibition of any water quality degradation for waters designated as outstanding resource waters (Tier 3).
        • Groundwater
          Although not required by any provision of the CWA, the OWRB has promulgated groundwater quality standards for the state at OAC 785:45, Subchapter 7.Groundwater quality standards are also comprised of three elements:
          • Beneficial uses, designated to apply to the groundwater situated below the surface of the dedicated land identified in a groundwater use permit or right issued by the OWRB. Such beneficial uses are defined at OAC 785:45-7-3(b) and may include, but are not limited to:
            • Public and Private Water Supply (including municipal use and domestic use)
            • Agriculture (including the subcategories of irrigation and non-irrigation use)
            • Industrial
            • Recreation
            • Fish and Wildlife
            • Classifications
              • Class I (Special Source Groundwater): Groundwaters where exceptional water quality exists, where there is an irreplaceable source of water, where it is necessary to maintain an outstanding groundwater resource or where the groundwater is ecologically important. This class of groundwater is considered to be very vulnerable to contamination and includes:
                • All groundwater located beneath the watersheds of surface waters designated as Scenic Rivers in Appendix A to OAC 785:45.
                • Groundwater located underneath lands located within the boundaries of areas with waters of ecological and/or recreational significance listed in Tables 1 and 2 of Appendix B to OAC 785:45.
                • Groundwater located underneath lands located within the boundaries of a state-approved wellhead protection area for public water supply.
              • Class II (General Use Groundwater):Groundwaters capable of being used as a drinking water supply with no or conventional treatment methods, with the potential for multiple beneficial uses, and with mean TDS levels < 3000 mg/l.
              • Class III (Limited Use Groundwater):Poor quality groundwaters due to naturally occurring contaminants, which require extensive treatment for use as a drinking water source, having mean TDS levels 3000 mg/l.
            • Protective measures and corrective actions, composed of:
              • Numerical criteria for certain organic compounds listed at OAC 785:45-7-2(a)(2), as well as practically measurable levels of toxics listed pursuant to Section 307(a) of the CWA, which, if exceeded, constitute groundwater pollution and may require corrective action.
              • Narrative criteria requiring that protective measures be at all times maintained which are adequate to preserve and protect existing and designated groundwater basin classifications and which are sufficient to minimize the impact of pollutants on groundwater quality.
              • Development of prescriptive measures by each state environmental agency in their WQSIP, and subsequent use of such measures, to prevent, control or abate groundwater pollution caused by any person or entity within their jurisdictional area of environmental responsibility.
              • Consideration by each state environmental agency of a hydrogeologic basins vulnerability level, as developed in OWRB Technical Report 99-1, Statewide Groundwater Vulnerability Map of Oklahoma, No I. Osborn and Ray H. Hardy, for surface activities with the potential to Contaminate groundwater.
              1. Functional Jurisdictions within the Corporation Commission
                1. When oil (free product, or significant streaming sheen) is seen on the surface of or in or staining the banks of a water body more than once (for fewer than 10 site visits), or > 10% but < 25% of the time for 10 or more stream inspections over a year, the water body is determined to be only partially supporting of its beneficial uses.
                2. If oil is seen 3 or more times (for fewer than 10 site visits in a year), or >25% of the time for 10 or more stream inspections over a year, the water body is determined to be impaired.
                3.  
                1. When the TDS or Chloride Levels exceed the streams Appendix F Sample Standard more than once (for fewer than 10 site visits in a year), or > 10% but < 25% of the time for 10 or more stream inspections/samples over a years time, the water body is determined to be only partially supporting of its beneficial uses.
                2. Exceeding a water body's Appendix C Class I or II suitability standard is considered to be the same as exceeding the sample standard.
                3. If excess salinity is found in the water body 3 or more times (for fewer than 10 site visits), or >25% of the time for 10 or more stream inspections over a year, the water body is determined to be impaired
                4. Alternatively, a water body is considered to be impaired if the mean (average) of ten or more sampling events exceeds its Appendix F Mean Standard.

              2. Field Ops has four district offices, one in each quadrant (northeast, northwest, southwest, and southeast) of the state. When fully staffed and funded each district has a District Manager, Assistant Manager, and approximately one Field Inspector for each oil and/or gas producing county in the district. Field Operations staff are the first to respond to spills and pollution complaints, and oversee or approve most surface spills and soil remediation activities. The procedures governing response to and resolution of citizens complaints about environmental matters within Corp Commission O&Gs jurisdiction are found in the Rules of Practice, OAC 165:5-1-25 et seq. O&G Field Inspectors also follow Field Ops guidance documents regarding spills according to the instructions of the District Managers and the Manager of Field Operations as specified by OAC 165:10-7-7 (where surface or subsurface pollution is apparent, a district manager or field inspector may direct an alleged violator to take steps necessary to stop and/or clean up pollution").

                The Pollution Abatement section (PA) within PA/UIC assists Field Ops with complex pollution cases, especially those that involve water (surface or ground water), and oversees many complex cases directly. Both PA managers and Field Ops District Managers can assign complex cases to PA District Hydrologists. PA and Field Ops also consult with each other about the referral of oil & gas exploration and production sites impacted by spill(s) or pollution where there is no RP. These are referred to the OERB when that is deemed to be the most appropriate action.

                PA central office staff are often directly assigned cases arising from property assessments or site investigations not directly associated with known spills. For sites overseen by PA, the instructions of and guidance approved by the Manager of Pollution Abatement (165:10-7-2 The Manager of Pollution Abatement shall supervise and coordinate the administration and enforcement of the rules of this Subchapter) as to when a cleanup/remediation should be done, and when it is deemed to be sufficient and a closure/no further action letter is written, are followed.

                PA staff also perform and/or oversee all federal Clean Water Act (CWA) related activities, including 1) monitoring surface and ground waters of the state, 2) determining which surface waters are impaired by substances related to activities the Oil & Gas Conservation Division regulates for the CWA required 303(d) list, 305(b) report, and any necessary TMDLs or cleanup activities; 3) participating in revising Oklahoma's Water Quality Standards and sampling protocols; 4) taking part in state/federal interagency work groups, grant committees, and the Oklahoma Water Quality Monitoring Council (OWQMC); 5) writing Corp Commission O&Gs water quality standards implementation plan (WQSIP); and 6) helping other state agencies with required documents to be submitted to the EPA.

                The UIC section within the PA/UIC Department sets pollution prevention requirements on saltwater disposal (injection) wells, which return the brine produced with oil to the subsurface from whence it came, and on injection wells used for secondary/tertiary recovery of additional oil and gas within producing fields. UIC also provides cleanup oversight for spills from injection wells. UIC has been delegated the federal UIC program for these activities.

                The O&G Technical Department (Tech) oversees technical matters, conservation rules, well drilling and other permits, and most filings for the O&G pollution prevention rules including allowed well locations, well casing requirements, blowout prevention, and drilling mud pit construction. Tech may also advise Field Ops and PA/UIC about engineering or geological issues within the context of a spill cleanup or pollution matter where necessary and appropriate. In order to protect the public, the Pipeline Safety program within the Commission's Transportation Division oversees the design, installation, operation, maintenance and abandonment of all intrastate natural gas and liquid petroleum pipelines subject to 49 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 192 and 195. The department responds to all regulated spills to determine the cause and steps to take to minimize future occurrences. The clean up of these spills are handled by the Oil and Gas Conservation Division.

                The Petroleum Storage Tank (PST) Division oversees pollution site investigations, risk assessments, and remediation arising from overfills, spills, and leaks of fuels, antifreeze, and other substances from underground and above ground storage tanks and their related piping, plus spills at intermediate jobbers who sell to retailers Non retail storage tanks, including those located at refineries, at the upstream or intermediate shipment points of pipeline operations, and on farms are not in Corp Commission jurisdiction. Historic and abandoned PST spill sites with no viable responsible party that are causing water pollution are remediated by the PST leaking underground storage tank LUST Trust Fund. The PST Division follows its Oklahoma Risk-Based Corrective Action (ORBCA) Guidance Document, which has been formalized into rules.

                WQSIP is intended for use only with regard to matters within the jurisdiction of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division. The PST Division will have a separate WQSIP for its jurisdictional areas.

                Specific Jurisdictional Areas of Environmental Responsibility

                The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has exclusive environmental regulatory jurisdiction, power and authority, and it shall be its duty to promulgate and enforce rules and issue and enforce orders, in the following 12 areas designated as I-XII. The technical and technology based measures already in Corp Commission O&G rules to prevent possible pollution referred to in column 3 of Table 1, that do not use or directly refer to water quality standards, are outlined in the Guidance Document of Technical Measures available from the Commission.

                Table I

                Specific Jurisdictional Areas of Environmental Responsibility
                Corp Commission O&G Jurisdictional Area Corp Commission O&G Activity WQSIP Plan Needed?
                I. The conservation of oil & gas Tech insures production rates that don't waste oil & gas. No
                II. Field operations for geologic and geophysical exploration for oil, gas and brine. Tech permitting of seismic survey wells, stratigraphic test wells and core test wells. No**[1] - Technical pollution prevention
                III. The exploration, drilling, development, producing or processing for oil and gas on the lease site including construction, operation, maintenance, closure and abandonment of the facilities and activities. Permits issued, well records kept, plugging documented by the Tech Dept. Oversight and inspections by Field Ops. No** Tech-Technical except for notification, remediation of spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                IV. The exploration, drilling, development, production and operation of wells used in connection with the recovery, injection or disposal of mineral brines including construction, operation, maintenance, closure and abandonment of the facilities and activities. Permits issued, well records kept, plugging documented by the Tech Dept. Construction, maintenance, and plugging oversight and inspections by Field Ops. No Technical except for notification and remediation for spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                V. Reclaiming facilities associated with the exploration, drilling, development, producing or transportation of oil or gas; includes processing saltwater, crude oil, natural gas condensate and tank bottoms or basic sediment from crude oil tanks, pipelines, pits and equipment. Oversight and inspections by Field Ops. No Technical except for notification and remediation for spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                VI. Underground injection control pursuant to the federal safe drinking water act and 40 CFR parts 144 through 148 For Class II injection wells, Class V injection wells utilized in the remediation of groundwater, and wells used for the recovery, injection or disposal of mineral brines as defined in the Oklahoma brine development act. Permits are issued by and inspections done by UIC section except for wells used in remediation cases, which are overseen by PA. No** Technical except for notification and remediation for spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                VII. Tank farms for storage of crude oil and petroleum products located outside the boundaries of refineries, petrochemical manufacturing plants, natural gas liquid extraction plants. DEQ[2] has jurisdiction inside plants. Oversight and inspections by Field Ops. No Technical except for spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                VIII. The construction and operation of pipelines and associated rights-of-way, equipment, facilities or buildings used in the transportation of oil, gas, petroleum, petroleum products, anhydrous ammonia or mineral brine, or in the treatment of oil, gas or mineral brine during the course of transportation. Located outside the boundaries of refineries, petrochemical manufacturing plants, natural gas liquid extraction plants reclaiming facility, mineral brine processing plant. Permits from and inspections done by Pipeline Safety. No Technical except for notification and remediation for spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                ADVANCE \d4 IX. The handling, transportation, storage and disposition of saltwater, mineral brines, waste oil and other regulated substances produced from or obtained or used in connection with the drilling, development, producing and operating of oil and gas wells. Permission and/or permits for the disposal of drilling mud, contaminated soil or water issued by PA, or by UIC for injection wells. Oversight and inspections by Field Ops or PA or UIC. No** Technical except for notification and remediation for spills and leaks, covered in section X.
                X. Spills (and leaks) of deleterious substances associated with facilities and activities specified above or otherwise associated with oil and gas extraction facilities and activities, and other commission-regulated activities, except petroleum storage tanks. Oversight by Field Ops or PA, including site inspections, overseeing work, reviewing plans, reviewing reports, waste disposal, cleanup or remediation, issuing closure letters. Yes. Includes spills, spill cleanup activities, and associated problems such as excess erosion.
                XI. Subsurface storage of oil, natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas in geologic strata. Environmental matters apply only to the construction, maintenance, and plugging of the wells in this program, which is the same as for wells in sections III and VI. No
                XII. Groundwater protection for activities subject to the jurisdictional areas of environmental responsibility of the commission. The Commission does not have separate surface water and groundwater programs, but instead considers the protection of the waters of the state, both surface water and groundwater, in all of its regulatory programs. No** except for spills and leaks affecting groundwater; covered in section X.

                G. Jurisdictional Areas Verses Beneficial Uses That Could Be Affected (OAC 785:45 Subchapter 5)

                Beneficial uses defined by the OWRB that could be adversely affected by spills or other activities in the jurisdictional areas of Corp Commission O&G for which WQSIP plans are necessary are:

                Table II

                Jurisdictional Areas Verses Beneficial Uses That Could Be Affected

                Jurisdictional area Substance(s) WQS Defined Beneficial Use(s) Possibly Affected
                II. Field operations for geologic and geophysical exploration. Drill cuttings, eroded sediments. Fish and Wildlife, Aesthetics, PPWS
                III. The exploration & production of oil and gas spills Brine, oil & condensate, drilling mud, eroded sediments, occasionally heavy metals PPWS, Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Aesthetics
                IV. Activities involving mineral brines - spills Brine, eroded sediments Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife, Aesthetics
                V. Reclaiming facilities spills Brine, waste oil, drilling mud, occasionally heavy metals PPWS, Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Aesthetics
                VI. Underground injection spills Brine, oil Agriculture, Aesthetics
                VII. Tank farms for storage of crude oil and petroleum spills Oil PPWS, Fish and Wildlife, Aesthetics
                VIII. The construction and operation of pipelines - spills Brine, oil, condensate, eroded sediments PPWS, Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Aesthetics
                ADVANCE \d4 IX. The handling and disposition of saltwater, mineral brines, waste oil and other regulated substances spills Brine, waste oil, drilling mud, occasionally heavy metals PPWS, Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Aesthetics
                X. Spills (and leaks) of various substances Brine, oil & condensate, drilling mud, occasionally heavy metals PPWS, Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Aesthetics
                XII. Groundwater Brine, oil & condensate, drilling mud, occasionally heavy metals PPWS, Agriculture[3]

                H. USAP and Corporation Commission Assessment and Cleanup/Remediation Water Quality Protocols

                The OWRB has developed Use Support Assessment Protocols (OWRB rules 785:46-7) for determining when surface water streams are fully supporting, partially supporting, or not supporting (impaired) their designated beneficial uses. The Corporation Commission follows these in its nonpoint source program, and where appropriate in determining impacts from spills on defined beneficial uses of the waters of the state. Corp Commission O&G has developed it own guidance for determining when a cleanup/remediation at an O&G Division supervised spill site needs to be done, and when the site is sufficiently remediated to avoid impairment of beneficial uses for surface and ground waters.

                OWRBs USAP methodology is used in determining whether or not the defined beneficial uses for surface water bodies are being adversely affected by current or historical spills. Impaired and partially supporting water bodies are placed on the federal 303(d) list. Streams that are determined to be affected by the above substances only once, or 10% of inspection/sampling events, are considered to be fully supporting of beneficial uses; those whose beneficial uses are considered to be threatened will be listed in the 305b report.

                Some examples of how the USAP rules are used to determine if water bodies are partially supporting or impaired are:

                The same protocols would apply if the benzene, ethylbenzene, and/or toluene dissolved in stream waters were (in laboratory analysis of water samples) to exceed OWRB toxicity standards.

                Since no equivalent USAPs have yet been developed for groundwater, the OWRBs USAP is not being used when there are possible groundwater impacts.

                SECTION II

                WQSIP ELEMENTS BY JURISDICTIONAL AREA

                A. Corp Commission O&G Water Quality Decision Level Criteria

                Environmental impacts resulting from activities regulated by Corp Commission O&G almost always involve petroleum compounds, brine (salinity) components, excess sediments in erosional runoff, and/or (rarely) heavy metals. When possible, action levels for these substances are based on Oklahoma Water Quality Standards (OWQS). However, the existing numerical salinity standards (Appendices C and F, only for TDS, chloride, and sulfate) are defined for agricultural beneficial uses, not for other uses such as PPWS or F&W. Corp Commission O&G has therefore developed some of its own numeric decision levels for these and other pollutants for agricultural and other beneficial uses when it is necessary to prioritize sites and determine water quality impairment(s) requiring remediation or another remedy. The distance from a site to vulnerable state waters is also considered. These criteria are listed below. OWRB has been asked to develop new numerical water quality standards for salinity compounds affecting PPWS and F&W beneficial uses on a stream/watershed specific basis.

                Salinity or petroleum or heavy metals in Class I groundwaters and/or in an aquifer at a drinking water well or in surface water where used for human consumption- the human health risk from pollutants in drinking water shall be determined by comparing current or likely future pollution levels at the water supply source with numeric DEQ and EPA drinking water standards. When there is measurable free product in such a well or nearby monitoring well or levels of dissolved oil constituents exceed standards or risk based levels, the groundwater is considered to be impaired and remediation is probably warranted.

                Salinity in irrigation water surface or groundwater Appendix C and F standards and OSU guidelines for excessive sodium that could adversely affect crops/pastures are used.

                Salinity in surface water not directly used for irrigation or drinking water Numerical criteria from Appendices C and F are used.

                Petroleum in groundwater away from drinking water wells 1) Corp Commission O&G defined or Risk Based (RBCA) numerical criteria in Corp Commission O&G guidelines for current and/or likely future levels of BTEX and TPH, to protect human or animal life, and 2) the presence of measurable free product, will be used. The levels of GRO and/or DRO and/or other specific petroleum carbon ranges will be used as guidelines on a case by case basis.

                Petroleum in surface waters not at surface drinking water supplies 1) Visual presence of oil and (when there is analytical data) 2) OWRB standards for benzene, ethylbenzene, and toluene or RBCA numerical criteria are used. GRO and/or DRO and/or other specific carbon range levels can also be used as guidelines on a case by case basis.

                Heavy Metals in groundwater not used for drinking

                Heavy Metals in surface water not used as a drinking water supply OWRB WQ standards for PPWS, F&W, and other beneficial uses are used

                Turbidity resulting from excess sediments in erosional runoff into surface water - OWRB WQ standards for F&W and Aesthetics determine the need for corrective action.

                Table III

                Pertinent Water Quality Decision Level Criteria Used by Corp Commission O&G

                Substance or activity

                Regulated material(s)

                Main Adverse Effects

                Standards to be applied (OWRB 785:45-5 & 45-7 except as noted) to determine the need for remediation

                Brine, drilling mud containing brine (from brine spills, brine in irrigation water applied to crops or pasture)

                Salinity TDS or TSS, sodium, chloride. Sulfate isn't usually from brines.

                 

                 

                Human Excess sodium causes blood pressure or other problems for sensitive people;

                F&W- high TDS & chlorides can kill.

                Agricultural- Excess sodium adversely affects water transport to plant roots; excessive TDS and chloride make water unsuitable for animals to drink.

                At drinking water wells and surface drinking water supplies, EPA drinking water standards are used.

                Irrigation systems (surface or ground water), OSU Lab guidelines for sodium are followed.

                Non drinking surface waters

                Based on OWRB Agricultural use standards, which vary by stream. In watersheds that have historically had low salinity, surface water TDS of 700 ppm and chloride of 250 ppm are standard. In watersheds that historically exceed these TDS/chloride standards, the (785:45 Appendix F) yearly mean standard and sample standards are used.

                Oil & gas spills Benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylenes, other TPH components, Oil & Grease

                Humans, Animals - Unsafe to drink;

                F&W - oil on water surface interferes with oxygen getting into water; dissolved constituents can be health hazards for aquatic life and/or for humans consuming fish.

                Class I groundwaters, @ drinking water well and @ surface drinking water supplies - EPA numerical WQ standards for BTEX, measurable free product.

                Petroleum in Groundwater away from drinking water wells Risk based criteria and the visual presence of free product.

                Other Surface waters

                Visual presence of oil (see USAP); OWRB numeric standards; RBCA.

                Drilling mud, oil pumping stations, gas plants & processing operations

                Heavy metals Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium +6, Lead, Mercury. High nickel, zinc, silver, & thallium are rarely associated with these

                Humans, Animals - Health hazard in drinking water;

                F&W - dissolved metals can be health hazards for aquatic life and for humans consuming fish.

                Class I groundwaters or at drinking water wells, OWRB numerical WQ standards. Risk based criteria used otherwise.

                OWRB WQ Toxicity to aquatic life and Toxicity of fish flesh, and PPWS heavy metal numeric standards are used.

                Erosion from brine vegetation kills, land abuse or construction

                Excess sediment in surface water, turbid water.

                F&W excess sediment smothers F&W habitat.
                Aesthetic, PBCR muddy water is unappealing.

                 

                F&W Turbidity standards of 25 NTU for lakes and 50 NTU for streams are used.

                The Water Quality Antidegradation policy, OAC 785:45 Subchapter 3, implemented at OAC 785:45-5-25 and OAC 785:46 Subchapter 13, is not specifically addressed above. It is the Commissions policy to maintain existing defined beneficial uses for surface and ground water throughout the state (Tiers 1-3, surface water; Class II General Use Groundwater). Very little of the Oil and Gas related activities regulated by the Commission are located where they could affect the High Quality Waters and Sensitive Water Supplies of the state, or waters of ecological and/or recreational significance (Tier 2), or Class I Special Source Groundwater (OAC 785:45-7-3). Since the Commission does not regulate point source discharges and does not geographically have significant oil & gas operations where Tier 3 outstanding resource waters are located, Tier 3 antidegradation for surface waters, though applicable, would rarely, if ever, need to be applied to oil and gas operations.

                ADVANCE \d4B. Jurisdictional Area X, Oil & Gas Conservation Division.

                This covers spills of substances associated with facilities and activities specified above or otherwise associated with oil and gas extraction facilities and activities. This section includes spills and leaks and excess erosion associated with all Oil and Gas Conservation Division regulated activities and pipelines, but not those of petroleum storage tanks regulated by the PST Division. I

                The Eight WQSIP elements:

                1.                  Program compliance with antidegradation and protection of beneficial uses - When spills occur or other environmental problems resulting from current or historic practices are found to have occurred, the goal of the Commission is to prevent impairments of the surface water and groundwaters of the state, and to prevent significant risks to humans, livestock, or other ecological receptors from inhalation of fumes, direct contact, or ingestion. When pollution is found to have impaired the defined beneficial uses of the surface or ground waters of the state, Corm Commission acts to restore water quality whenever feasible.

                Corp Commission O&G does not become involved in specific cases unless a complaint is made pursuant to OAC 165:5-1-25, a spill or a probable or confirmed impairment is found or a potential violation of Corp Commission O&G rules is discerned by Corp Commission O&G staff during an inspection, or a request for approval of a pollution abatement plan is submitted to the agency for review and implementation.

                Recent spills and newly located polluted sites are remediated by the responsible party (RP) or, sometimes, by the Commission using surety (165:10-1-10), to the extent necessary to meet Commission goals, insofar as is possible. Most cases that affect only soil are handled by the Field Operations staff. PA staff are called in to assist Field Ops or to directly manage cases when the waters of the state are possibly or definitely affected or PA staff skills are more suited to the site, as per the agreement between these two Commission sections. Where no RP can be found, pollution sites on the surface caused by historic exploration and/or production activities may be referred to the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB), which is voluntarily funded by oil and gas producers and royalty owners. If the OERB receives information that shows evidence that water quality has been threatened through a surface testing procedure, the OERB will report test results to the Commission.

                Specific Commission guidelines and procedures to be followed include:

                a.      To ensure the earliest possible response to a spill of petroleum, drilling mud, oilfield brine, or related compounds from storage tanks or other oilfield production-related facilities and activities including pipelines and disposal facilities, operators, contractors, drillers, service companies, pit operators, transporters, pipeline companies, or other persons conducting operations regulated by the Commission must promptly notify the Commission when spills or leaks are found (165:10-7-5 ( c)(1));

                b.      The operator shall immediately undertake cleanup activities voluntarily or when notified by the Commission Field Operations staff (165:10-7-7(c )). Field Operations provides guidance and recommends surficial soil cleanup levels in their Oklahoma Corporation Commission Guidelines for Responding to and Remediating Spills. The Commission can fine RPs that fail to perform adequate cleanups, and/or shut down their operations (165:10-7-5 ( c)(2), 165:10-7-7(d));

                c.      Spills or extensive pollution problems that cannot be cleaned up promptly under Field Operations supervision using their guidelines, those which have significant surface or ground water contamination plume(s), or those which Field Operations staff cannot handle due to workload, staff skills, or other considerations, will be assigned to Pollution Abatement staff;

                d.      In Pollution Abatement oversight cases, and/or in response to a spill or pollution complaint for surface or ground water, when there is determined to be a responsible party (RP), the Commission may request when necessary a thorough site investigation including an assessment that includes soil and/or groundwater and/or surface water observations, measurements, and/or sampling and laboratory analyses in the area(s) most likely to be impacted. Sampling for various substances upstream and downstream, or upgradient and downgradient, of the probable source(s) is often necessary to determine if there is a water body impairment. The Commission may choose to undertake its own investigation, or to accompany the RP and split samples, or to exercise oversight in other ways;

                e.      If a pollution remediation or other remedy is determined to be necessary, Corp Commission O&G staff will determine or approve the appropriate soil and water action and cleanup levels. Remediation of petroleum pollution problems overseen by Pollution Abatement are handled through either a risk based corrective action (RBCA) process, where risks to human receptors are modeled and risks to domestic animals or other receptors are considered, or by using the guidance listed below);

                f.        PA/UIC provides guidance in their Site/Risk Assessment and Cleanup Guidelines for Petroleum Hydrocarbon and Heavy Metal Pollution. RPs can use either the RBCA methodology or the fixed numerical standards in the guidance, which includes numerical standards for petroleum compounds listed in the Soil and Groundwater Petroleum Products Remediation Index Table. Standard RBCA methodologies including but not limited to ORBCA (plus TPH), ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), the Gas Technology Institute method, and the US Military's TPH Working Group guidelines are acceptable to Corp Commission O&Gs PA department;

                g.      The fixed or RBCA levels will be utilized on a site specific basis such that state Water Quality Standards or other more appropriate numerical criteria will be met at the nearest potential downgradient or downstream water body (receptor point or location) and/or receptor as specified in the Commission Water Quality Decision Level Criteria. Potential pollution recipients considered include a) persons, farm animals, and wildlife (receptors), b) surface water bodies (beyond the immediate mixing zone), and c) ground water aquifers at the point where they are used for water supply or directly discharge into surface water bodies or into springs. Class III ground waters and or surface waters whose natural chemical or other characteristics, including a TDS > 3000 mg/l, make them unsuitable for human or other beneficial use are not considered to be protected.

                h.      Corp Commission O&G may as appropriate monitor or require the owner or other responsible party (RP) to monitor surface and/or ground waters onsite and/or between sources and potential receptors to ensure that appropriate Water Quality Standards will be met before pollutants can reach a possible receptor/recipient.

                i.         When a cleanup or remediation at a site that has affected or significantly threatened water body impairment is completed, appropriate water quality monitoring in the nearest downgradient or downstream water bodies will be done to ensure that water quality standards have been met.

                j.         Petroleum, oilfield brine-related high TDS, or other oil-field related materials can be found in a stream or an aquifer resulting from historic (now prohibited) practices, or from recent events. This can create what are for current practical purposes "irreversible man-induced impacts" (40 CFR 131.10(g)(3)) when either:

                1)      there is no RP to perform or pay for the extensive remediation, and/or

                2)      there is no technically feasible way to do a remediation without causing more environmental damage to correct than to leave pollutants in place (OAC 785:45-5-2(b)(1)(A)).

                In cases where this occurs the Commission will:

                1)       monitor or request that the OWRB or Oklahoma Conservation Commission monitor the affected streams and/or groundwater as necessary, or

                2)       when there is no RP and a cleanup becomes feasible make a request for a cleanup with State Funds; or

                3)       if remediation to restore a listed water body for its beneficial uses cannot be done, Corp Commission O&G may request that the listed beneficial uses be a) downgraded by the OWRB to a lower use (e.g. HLAC instead of WWAC) or b) that listed beneficial uses be removed entirely (OAC 785:45-5-2(b)).

                2. Application of Use Support Assessment Protocols (USAP) (OAC 785:46 Subchapter 15) This applies to samples taken of streams or other surface water bodies as a result of a pollution complaint or known spill. Samples are taken by responsible parties and/or Commission staff as necessary. Streams on the 303d list or listed in a federal 305b report, 319(h) report, or other listing of likely affected waters are also sampled as part of Corp Commission O&Gs NPS program. Whenever possible monitoring is done in all four seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter) of the year. If a stream segment is sampled more than once in the same week, sites at least one mile apart are chosen whenever possible.

                The USAP guidelines are used in determining whether or not surface water bodies are being affected by current or historical spills (see section I.H.).

                Since OWRB has not yet developed a USAP for groundwater, the standards listed in Corp Commission O&Gs Water Quality Decision Level Criteria and Table III are used to determine if ground water is likely impaired, and if remediation and/or provision for an alternate source of drinking water is recommended.

                3.                  Programs Affecting Water Quality Leaks and spills and historic sources have in some cases impaired the surface or ground waters of the state. When possible, Corp Commission O&G determines how water quality is affected, and then initiates actions where beneficial uses are not being met to restore water quality when and where possible. RPs either perform cleanups, or demonstrate that the substances found do not pose a threat to receptors or cause state water quality standards to be exceeded.

                a.      Commission staff under O&G staff direction sample (monitor) ground and surface waters of the state in response to complaints.

                b.      Commission staff will monitor and request that other state agencies such as the OWRB assist them to monitor surface water bodies that may be affected by historic or unknown spill or pollution sites with possible Oil & Gas related sources, including 1) allegedly impaired waters listed on the federal 303d list, 2) waters included in a federal 305b report, 319(h) report, or other listing of likely affected waters, or 3) when there is a reason such as known land environmental damage or historic sources in an area to suspect resultant water quality problems.

                c.      Surface waters found to be impaired or only partially supporting will be placed or kept on the 303(d) list; surface waters found to be fully supporting as defined by OWRB water quality standards and not threatened will be removed from all lists and reports of impaired water bodies; water bodies found to be exceeding standards once or likely threatened will be included in the 305b report.

                4.Technical Information and Procedures for Implementation

                Field Ops provides the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Guidelines for Responding to and Remediating Spills. PA provides the Site/Risk Assessment and Cleanup Guidelines for Petroleum Hydrocarbon and Heavy Metal Pollution and an Oilfield Pollution Prevention pamphlet oriented to minimizing spills and proper waste disposal. Corp Commission O&G and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service collaborated to write Pollution Prevention at Exploration and Production Sites in Oklahoma, Water Quality Series publication E-940. Corp Commission O&G provides the Guidance Document of Technical Measures for environmental jurisdictional areas not covered by the WQSIP.

                Water Quality monitoring data is kept in a spreadsheet, which is used in the determination of water body impairment.

                5.                  Integration of WQSIP into Agency Water Quality Management Activities .

                Additional rules and policies may be necessary to implement the WQSIP.

                6.                  Compliance With Mandated Statewide Water Quality Management Activities Developed by Other State Environmental Agencies (TMDLs, nonpoint source pollution prevention programs, NPDES)

                 part of its cooperative water quality protection activities with other agencies, a Corp Commission O&G representative participates in:

                a.      meetings to develop and/or revise Oklahoma's Water Quality Standards, including the USAP;

                b.      NPS Working Group meetings, and revision of the 319(h) Plan and the NPS Management and Assessment plan reports submitted to the EPA;

                c.      TMDL/303d Working Group meetings, and handling water quality monitoring, listing, and de-listing of streams on the 303d list and in the 305b report from alleged oilfield related sources;

                d.      104b grant meetings, and voting to decide how this grant money will be spent;

                e.      OWQMC meetings and programs;

                f.        meetings to revise the CPP document submitted to the EPA;

                g.      EQIP meetings and voting recommendations;

                h.      OWRB Basin Planning, wetlands, and other workgroup meetings and document revisions;

                i.         WQSIP meetings, and review of state agency Plans; and

                j.         The Oil & Gas Conservation Division will also work with the DEQ in its establishment as per SB 549 of a statewide database for all water quality monitoring data.

                Cases involving sites with monitoring wells are not closed until all wells and borings are abandoned according to OWRB rules. If spills and leaks from Commission regulated activities are found to be contributing to water quality problems in a stream or watershed, the Commission will attempt to cooperate with the TMDL activities of other state agencies and/or increase its own enforcement activities. However, at present the Commission receives no funding for TMDL or other NPS or Clean Water Act related programs, and cannot commit to doing all that may be necessary, especially for historic and other sites with no responsible party, until sufficient funding for staff salaries, sampling costs, necessary cleanup or TMDL work, participation in 319h or 104b activities, and other NPS related activities is in place.

                7.Public Participation. This will be done as part of any rulemaking process as per the Administrative Procedures Act, and for all work related to federal or state programs where public participation is required. The summary of written comments and testimony received pursuant to the promulgation of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division's WQSIP may be obtained from the public record of the Commission's Cause RM No. 200100005, wherein notice was provided by publication and mailing, as summarized in the Agency Rule Report for the Cause.

                8.Evaluation of Effectiveness of Agency WQSIP Activities (to achieve Water Quality Standards). - The Commission reviews regulated activities to ensure that waters of the state are being protected, and will propose rule changes if and when problems are seen. Monitoring will be done as necessary at surface and ground water pollution cleanup sites to confirm the effectiveness of remedial activities. This may be integrated with the 303d/305b stream monitoring program. Program management, staffing levels and oversight, employee training, forms, procedures, equipment, and information availability will be also be reviewed to determine their effect on the overall efficacy of the program.

** See page 12, General Statement, for future UIC, land application, erosional/runoff, and pit construction rules and policies.

The DEQ has environmental jurisdiction over (1) Point source discharges from tank farms for the storage of crude oil and petroleum products which are within the boundaries of refineries, natural gas liquid extraction plants, petrochemical manufacturing plants, or other facilities subject to DEQ jurisdiction; (2) Construction and operation of pipelines, equipment, facilities or buildings used in the transport of oil, gas, petroleum, petroleum products, anhydrous ammonia or mineral brine within the boundaries of refineries, natural gas liquid extraction plants, petrochemical manufacturing plants, mineral brine processing plants, and reclaiming facilities other than those processing salt water, crude oil, natural gas condensate, tank bottoms or basic sediment from crude oil tanks, pipelines, pits and equipment associated with the exploration, drilling, development, production or transport of oil or gas; (3) Point source discharges of pollutants and storm water to waters of the state from refineries, natural gas liquid extraction plants, petrochemical manufacturing plants, bulk terminals located within any of the above facilities, and facilities manufacturing oil- and gas-related equipment and products; (4) Point source discharges of pollutants to waters of the state, as well as the disposal of contaminated soil, media or debris which is hazardous, during site remediation of underground and/or aboveground storage tanks having contained antifreeze, motor oil, motor fuel, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel or aviation fuel; (5) Transportation, discharge or release of deleterious substances or solid or hazardous waste or other pollutants from rolling stock and rail facilities; and (5) Nonpoint source discharges of pollutants from refineries, natural gas liquid extraction plants, petrochemical manufacturing plants, bulk terminals located within any of the above types of facilities, and facilities manufacturing oil- and gas-related equipment and products.

Other beneficial uses, such as Fish and Wildlife, would apply only where a ground water pollution plume was potentially entering a surface water body.

Last Modified on Nov 04, 2020
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