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EPA proposes general wastewater permit for small suction gold dredging in Idaho

January 27, 2010

The EPA is proposing to issue a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for placer miners using small suction gold dredges in Idaho. The permit would apply to dredges with intake nozzles of 5 inches or less, equipped with motors of 15 horsepower or less. Miners using larger dredges would need to submit an individual application to the EPA.

The proposed rule has been published and interested miners are encouraged to provide comments. There are many issues that need to be addressed. For example, the General Permit as proposed currently states that "...motorized winches or other motorized equipment to move boulders, logs, or other natural obsctructions..." would be prohibited (page 17, section G).

A Fact Sheet is available, which describes the proposed permit conditions.

Suction dredgers would be required to obatins a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPES) General Permit and have a copy of the permit on site.

Comments are due on this proposed rule by March 8, 2010.

Public meetings have been scheduled as follows:
    February 22, 2010
        Nez Perce National Forest
        104 Airport Rd
        Grangeville, Idaho
    February 23, 2010
        Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
        Conference Room C
        1410 N Hilton
        Boise, Idaho
    February 24, 2010
        Salmon-Challis National Forest
        1206 S Challis St
        Salmon, Idaho
    February 25, 2010
        Idaho Department of Fish & Game
        4279 Commerce Circle
        Idaho Falls, Idaho

The complete notice, including comment addresses and technical contacts for more information, is available here.

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