Avis Newell, water quality basin coordinator at DEQ for the Tualatin Basin, recently updated the District about a new fact sheet about general water quality permits for freshpack, winery and food process water (our 1400A and 1400B general permits). The rule applies to packers and processors in the agricultural industry. The Fact Sheet can be found on the DEQ Northwest Region webpage: http://www.deq.state.or.us/nwr/docs/FoodProcessWastewater.pdf
The fact sheet is intended to help operators understand and operate within the requirements of the permitting process. “I decided to complete the fact sheet after I investigated, with the help of Mike Powers and Ryan Beyer of Oregon Department of Agriculture, a complaint about a discharge in the Tualatin River,” said Newell. “The discharge was large, very black, and was eventually traced to a berry packer. The packer’s washwater was reaching the Tualatin River through tile drains in his field. This discharge eventually led to a significant fine to the berry packer ($8400).”
During the investigation, it became clear that there are not many berry packers are registered for this permit, so this DEQ fact sheet describes the permit, the waste treatment options, and how to apply for a permit. This permit covers the activities of anyone who is doing the activity described here; if they are doing this activity, they should register for the permit. If they are doing similar activity but produce a larger quantity, or use a different method to treat waste water, then they will not qualify for this general permit.
The permit does not indicate how small a volume of waste water is small enough to cause no impact. Producers who create small amounts of wastewater and are not sure if they need a permit should contact DEQ with details about their operation, waste disposal and soils to find out if a permit is needed. Dave Cole is the main contact for this permit. Cole.David@deq.state.or.us or (503)229-5011.