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Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District
Proposed UPDES Permit to Discharge to Great Salt Lake
The Utah Division of Water Quality received a request from Jordan Valley for a Utah Pollution Discharge Elimination System (UPDES) permit to discharge byproduct water via a 21 mile, 16 inch diameter pipeline running from the Jordan Valley facility in West Jordan to the mouth of Gilbert Bay along the south shore of the Great Salt Lake (see Discharge Location Map) and excess shallow groundwater used in the treatment process into the Jordan River.
This project is a part of a larger groundwater cleanup under a Natural Resource Damage Claim (NRDC) filed in 1986 by the State of Utah against Kennecott Utah Copper. The claim was made for damages to two deep water aquifers from historic mining activities. The Jordan Valley Southwest Groundwater Treatment Plant was constructed under the NRDC settlement agreement to treat contaminated water located in the deep water aquifer in Zone B in the southwestern Salt Lake Valley. Kennecott Utah Copper constructed a similar reverse osmosis facility to clean up contaminated water in the deep groundwater in Zone A.
The cleanup project makes use of reverse osmosis to remove total dissolved solids (salts) from the groundwater. High pressure forces contaminated water through a semi-permeable membrane. The water flows through the membrane while salts, such as sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, and sulfate, are separated from the water moving through the membrane and collected in the byproduct waste stream.
Treatment will result in three streams from the treatment plant:
- Drinking quality water distributed to areas served by Jordan Valley's existing system
- Excess untreated shallow groundwater that will be discharged to the Jordan River
- Byproducts from the treatment process, including concentrated dissolved salts and trace metals, discharged to Gilbert Bay in the Great Salt Lake via a 21 mile pipeline
UPDES permits are granted to facilities that demonstrate they can comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Utah Water Quality Act. UPDES permits include effluent limits and permit conditions that insure the beneficial uses of the receiving water are protected.
This draft permit contains limits for discharges from the Jordan Valley Southwest Groundwater Treatment Plant to the Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake. The limits for discharges into the Jordan River are based on existing water quality standards. DWQ adopted a weight-of-evidence approach for discharges to the Great Salt Lake to ensure that the effluent limits in the permit meet the narrative standards for the lake and protect the beneficial uses of Gilbert Bay and its transitional waters.
Concerns about impacts from selenium and mercury in the byproduct discharge were raised during public comments several years ago. Since then, DWQ has established numeric criteria for selenium in the Great Salt Lake and conducted exhaustive research on potential adverse impacts from byproduct discharge on the lake biota. The proposed permit includes effluent limits and stringent monitoring requirements that address these concerns.
On the Water Quality Draft Permit
Division of Water Quality
Phone: (801) 536-4385
On the Southwest Jordan Valley Groundwater Project
Division of Environmental Response and Remediation
Phone: (801) 536-4282